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Metabolic changes in response to varying whole-grain wheat and rye intake

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sumanto Haldar, Amanda Lloyd, Wendy Bal, Dr Kirsten BrandtORCiD, Dr Lee Fawcett, Emeritus Professor Chris SealORCiD



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


Epidemiological studies have shown associations between whole-grain intake and lowered disease risk. A sufficient level of whole-grain intake to reach the health benefits has not been established, and there is limited knowledge about the impact of whole-grain intake on metabolite levels. In this clinical intervention study, we aimed to identify plasma and urine metabolites associated with two different intake levels of whole-grain wheat and rye and to correlate them with clinical plasma biomarkers. Healthy volunteers (N = 68) were divided into two groups receiving either whole-grain wheat or whole-grain rye in two four-week interventions with 48 and 96 g/d of whole grains consumed. The metabolomics of the plasma samples was performed with UPLC–QTOF-MS. Plasma alkylresorcinols were quantified with GC-MS and plasma and urinary mammalian lignans with HPLC-ECD. The high-dose intervention impacted the metabolite profile, including microbial metabolites, more in the rye-enriched diet compared with wheat. Among the increased metabolites were alkylresorcinol glucuronides, sinapyl alcohol, and pipecolic acid betaine, while the decreased metabolites included acylcarnitines and ether lipids. Plasma alkylresorcinols, urinary enterolactone, and total mammalian lignans reflected the study diets in a dose-dependent manner. Several key metabolites linked with whole-grain consumption and gut microbial metabolism increased in a linear manner between the two interventions. The results reveal that an increase in whole-grain intake, particularly rye, is strongly reflected in the metabolite profile, is correlated with clinical variables, and suggests that a diet rich in whole grains promotes the growth and/or metabolism of microbes producing potentially beneficial microbial metabolites.Similar content being viewed by others

Publication metadata

Author(s): Koistinen VM, Haldar S, Tuomainen M, Lehtonen M, Klavus A, Draper J, Lloyd A, Beckmann M, Bal W, Ross AB, Brandt K, Fawcett L, Seal C, Hanhineva K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: npj Science of Food

Year: 2024

Volume: 8

Online publication date: 30/01/2024

Acceptance date: 08/01/2024

Date deposited: 05/02/2024

ISSN (electronic): 2396-8370

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/s41538-024-00247-0


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Funder referenceFunder name
Academy of Finland
Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation
UK Food Standards Agency (Project number N05075)