Biomarkers of Fruit Intake Using a Targeted Metabolomics Approach: an Observational Cross-Sectional Analysis of the ELSA-Brasil Study

J Nutr. 2022 Sep 6;152(9):2023-2030. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxac115.


Background: Advances in technology have led to the identification of a greater number of metabolites related to diet. Although fruit intake biomarkers have been reported in some studies, these findings require further replication, considering the relevance of fruits for diet quality and health.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore the associations of a set of potential urinary biomarkers of diet, assessed using a targeted metabolomics approach, with self-reported fruit intake data in participants of a computer-assisted 24-h dietary recall (GloboDiet software) validation study.

Methods: A total of 93 individuals aged 43-72 y, 54% female, participated in this study. The subjects were a subsample of the Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil). A 24-h dietary recall was obtained with the aid of GloboDiet software matching a 24-h urine sample from each participant. Candidate biomarkers were selected in a literature search and identified in urine by LC coupled to high-resolution MS. Spearman correlation analyses were performed between fruit intake and each biomarker.

Results: Spearman correlation analysis showed that total fruits intake was significantly correlated with citric acid (ρ = 0.213, P = 0.041), ferulic acid sulfate I (ρ = 0.240, P = 0.020), hesperetin glucuronide/homoeriodictyol glucuronide (ρ = 0.303, P = 0.003), hydroxyhippuric acid (ρ = 0.239, P = 0.021), homovanillic alcohol sulfate (ρ = 0.339, P = 0.001), methylgallic acid sulfate (ρ = 0.268, P = 0.009), naringenin glucuronide (NG; ρ = 0.278, P = 0.007), proline betaine (PB; ρ = 0.305, P = 0.003), syringic acid sulfate (ρ = 0.210, P = 0.044), and sinapic acid sulfate (ρ = 0.412, P < 0.001). Among them, 3 have been described in literature as promising biomarkers for intake of total fruit, oranges, and citrus fruit: NG, hesperetin glucuronide, and PB.

Conclusions: Associations of total fruits intake with urinary measurements indicate the potential usefulness of dietary biomarkers in the Brazilian population as a complement to self-reported dietary assessments.

Keywords: 24-h urine; dietary assessment; globodiet; mass spectrometry; metabolomics.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Brazil
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Glucuronides*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Metabolomics
  • Sulfates


  • Biomarkers
  • Glucuronides
  • Sulfates