Background/objective: Serum metabolites have been linked to higher risk of chronic diseases but determinants of serum metabolites are not clear. We aimed to investigate the association between habitual diet as a modifiable risk factor and relevant serum metabolites.
Subjects/methods: This cross-sectional study comprised 2380 EPIC-Potsdam participants. Intake of 45 food groups was assessed by food frequency questionnaire and concentrations of 127 serum metabolites were measured by targeted metabolomics. Reduced rank regression was used to find dietary patterns that explain the maximum variation of metabolites.
Results: In the multivariable-adjusted model, the proportion of explained variation by habitual diet was ranked as follows: acyl-alkyl-phosphatidylcholines (5.7%), sphingomyelins (5.1%), diacyl-phosphatidylcholines (4.4%), lyso-phosphatidylcholines (4.1%), acylcarnitines (3.5%), amino acids (2.2%) and hexose (1.6%). A pattern with high intake of butter and low intake of margarine was related to acylcarnitines, acyl-alkyl-phosphatidylcholines, lyso-phosphatidylcholines and hydroxy-sphingomyelins, particularly with saturated and monounsaturated fatty acid side chains. A pattern with high intake of red meat and fish and low intake of whole-grain bread and tea was related to hexose and phosphatidylcholines. A pattern consisting of high intake of potatoes, dairy products and cornflakes particularly explained methionine and branched chain amino acids. Dietary patterns related to type 2 diabetes-relevant metabolites included high intake of red meat and low intake of whole-grain bread, tea, coffee, cake and cookies, canned fruits and fish.
Conclusions: Dietary patterns characterized by intakes of red meat, whole-grain bread, tea and coffee were linked to relevant metabolites and could be potential targets for chronic disease prevention.