Evaluation of an FFQ for assessment of antioxidant intake using plasma biomarkers in an ethnically diverse population

Public Health Nutr. 2009 Dec;12(12):2438-47. doi: 10.1017/S1368980009005539. Epub 2009 Apr 16.


Objective: To evaluate FFQ estimates of dietary intake of individual antioxidants, fruit and vegetables in comparison to plasma concentrations of each antioxidant, and to determine which individual foods are associated with plasma antioxidant concentrations.

Design: Dietary (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein/zeaxanthin, lycopene, retinol, and vitamin E) intakes over 12 months were estimated from a 121-item FFQ. Correlation coefficients, corrected for within-person variability in diet and plasma antioxidants, were used to examine associations between antioxidant concentrations in diet and plasma.

Setting: Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study (MCCS).

Subjects: Men and women (n 3110) who were randomly selected from the MCCS. Participants were aged 36-72 years and were born in Australia, Greece, Italy or the UK.

Results: Correlation coefficients for the carotenoids ranged from 0.28 for lycopene to 0.46 for beta-cryptoxanthin. There was no association between dietary and plasma retinol or dietary vitamin E with plasma alpha- and gamma-tocopherol. Individual plasma carotenoid concentrations were associated with intakes of fruit and vegetables.

Conclusions: Our data suggest that the FFQ provides useful information on intakes of each of the carotenoids: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene and lutein/zeaxanthin. There was no association between diet and plasma markers of retinol or vitamin E; this may reflect the importance of factors other than intake in modifying circulating levels of these nutrients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antioxidants / analysis
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Australia
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Carotenoids / analysis
  • Carotenoids / blood*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet* / ethnology
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Food Analysis
  • Fruit* / chemistry
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards
  • United Kingdom
  • Vegetables* / chemistry


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • Carotenoids