A nutrient-dense, high-fiber, fruit-based supplement bar increases HDL cholesterol, particularly large HDL, lowers homocysteine, and raises glutathione in a 2-wk trial

FASEB J. 2012 Aug;26(8):3515-27. doi: 10.1096/fj.11-201558. Epub 2012 May 1.


Dietary intake modulates disease risk, but little is known how components within food mixtures affect pathophysiology. A low-calorie, high-fiber, fruit-based nutrient-dense bar of defined composition (e.g., vitamins and minerals, fruit polyphenolics, β-glucan, docosahexaenoic acid) appropriate for deconstruction and mechanistic studies is described and evaluated in a pilot trial. The bar was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Changes in cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk biomarkers were measured after 2 wk twice-daily consumption of the bar, and compared against baseline controls in 25 healthy adults. Plasma HDL-cholesterol (HDL-c) increased 6.2% (P=0.001), due primarily to a 28% increase in large HDL (HDL-L; P<0.0001). Total plasma homocysteine (Hcy) decreased 19% (P=0.017), and glutathione (GSH) increased 20% (P=0.011). The changes in HDL and Hcy are in the direction associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline; increased GSH reflects improved antioxidant defense. Changes in biomarkers linked to insulin resistance and inflammation were not observed. A defined food-based supplement can, within 2 wk, positively impact metabolic biomarkers linked to disease risk. These results lay the groundwork for mechanistic/deconstruction experiments to identify critical bar components and putative synergistic combinations responsible for observed effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Glutathione / blood
  • Homocysteine / blood
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Homocysteine
  • Glutathione