Background: Choline and betaine are found in a variety of plant and animal foods and were recently shown to be associated with decreased homocysteine concentrations.
Objective: The scope of this work was to investigate the associations between dietary choline and betaine consumption and various markers of low-grade systemic inflammation.
Design: Under the context of a cross-sectional survey that enrolled 1514 men (18-87 y of age) and 1528 women (18-89 y of age) with no history of cardiovascular disease (the ATTICA Study), fasting blood samples were collected and inflammatory markers were measured. Dietary habits were evaluated with a validated food-frequency questionnaire, and the intakes of choline and betaine were calculated from food-composition tables.
Results: Compared with the lowest tertile of choline intake (<250 mg/d), participants who consumed >310 mg/d had, on average, 22% lower concentrations of C-reactive protein (P < 0.05), 26% lower concentrations of interleukin-6 (P < 0.05), and 6% lower concentrations of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (P < 0.01). Similarly, participants who consumed >360 mg/d of betaine had, on average, 10% lower concentrations of homocysteine (P < 0.01), 19% lower concentrations of C-reactive protein (P < 0.1), and 12% lower concentrations of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (P < 0.05) than did those who consumed <260 mg/d. These findings were independent of various sociodemographic, lifestyle, and clinical characteristics of the participants.
Conclusions: Our results support an association between choline and betaine intakes and the inflammation process in free-eating and apparently healthy adults. However, further studies are needed to confirm or refute our findings.