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Diet, but not food type, significantly affects micronutrient and toxic metal profiles in urine and/or plasma; a randomized, controlled intervention trial

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Leo RempelosORCiD, Dr Marcin Baranski, Dr Anthony Watson, Dr Nikolaos Volakakis, Eleni Chatzidimitriou, Dr Amelia Magistrali, Dr Hannah DavisORCiD, Dr Dominika Srednicka-Tober, Professor Stephen Rushton, Emeritus Professor Chris SealORCiD, Professor Carlo Leifert



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Background: Observational studies have linked Mediterranean Diets (MedDiet) and organic food consumption with positive health outcomes, which may be explained by higher mineral micronutrient and phenolic intake and lower dietary exposure to toxic compounds.Objectives: To determine the effects of diet and food type (organic versus conventional) on urinary excretion (UE) and/or plasma concentrations of mineral micronutrients, phenolics and toxic metals.Methods: Healthy, adult participants were randomly allocated to a conventional (n=14) or an intervention (n=13) group. During a two-week period, the intervention group consumed a MedDiet made entirely from organic foods, while the conventional group consumed a MedDiet made from conventional foods. Before and after the intervention period, both groups consumed their habitual Western diets made from conventional foods. The primary outcome was UE and/or plasma concentrations of selected mineral micronutrients, toxic metals and phenolic markers. In addition, we monitored diets using food diaries. The participants were aware of study group assignment, but the study assessors were not.Results: Changing from a Western to a MedDiet for two weeks resulted in significant increases in UE of total phenolics and salicylic acid (by 46 and 45% respectively), the mineral micronutrients Co, I, and Mn (by 211, 70 and 102% respectively) and the toxic metal Ni (by 42%), and plasma Se concentrations (by 14%). However, no significant effects of food type (organic versus conventional) were detected. Redundancy analysis identified vegetables, coffee, wine and fruit as positive drivers for UE of phenolic markers and mineral micronutrients, and fish consumption as a positive driver for UE of Cd and Pb.Conclusions: Although small effects of food type cannot be ruled out, our study suggests that only changing to a MedDiet with higher fruit and vegetable, and lower meat consumption results in a large increase in phenolic and mineral micronutrient intake.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rempelos L, Wang J, Baranski M, Watson A, Volakakis N, Hadall C, Hasanaliyeva G, Chatzidimitriou E, Magistrali A, Davis H, Vigar V, Srednicka-Tober D, Rushton S, Rosnes KS, Iversen PO, Seal CJ, Leifert C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Year: 2022

Volume: 116

Issue: 5

Pages: 1278-1290

Online publication date: 30/08/2022

Acceptance date: 18/08/2022

Date deposited: 05/09/2022

ISSN (print): 0002-9165

ISSN (electronic): 1938-3207

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqac233


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Funder referenceFunder name
Sheepdrove Trust