Food phytochemicals matter for cardiometabolic health

Impact of Diet, Food Components and Food Processing on Body Weight Regulation and Overweight Related Metabolic Diseases (METADIS 2019)
Food phytochemicals matter for cardiometabolic health
Dr Claudine Manach


Partner Organization Partner Country
IDIBAPS, Hospital Clínic, University of BarcelonaSpain
University of ParmaItaly
Chalmers University of TechnologySweden
Max Rubner-InstitutGermany
University of AlbertaCanada
King’s college LondonUK

1. Overall project description

1.1 Summary

FOODPHYT aims at raising awareness and understanding of the enormous potential of food phytochemicals to support the global fight against obesity and associated cardiometabolic diseases. Phytochemicals are small molecules synthetized by plants for their protection against aggressions. Over 1200 phytochemicals have been identified in commonly consumed foods, and every plant food contains a unique combination of several hundreds of phytochemicals. An explosion of research is demonstrating the health benefits of plant-based diets, specific plant foods and particular phytochemicals. For example, caffeine acutely improves cognitive function, cocoa flavanols protect vascular function and many food phytochemicals contribute to the prevention of diseases associated with aging and unbalanced diet, such as diabetes, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, and some cancers.

The diverse food phytochemicals display varied effects on molecular targets. Their bioactivity often depends on everyone's capacity to metabolize them: phytochemicals are transformed in our tissues and by our gut microbes into derivatives called metabolites, which may have different bioactivity compared to the native compounds. The individuals' metabolic capacity is controlled by genetic and lifestyle factors. Data on bioactivities of food phytochemical metabolites are scattered in the scientific literature and challenging to evaluate. Some misleading information is also circulating due to an incorrect interpretation of scientific results or excessive marketing messages.

The first objective of FOODPHYT is to make available consolidated knowledge on metabolism and cardiometabolic health effects of food phytochemicals in an open-access database, compiling scientific data critically analyzed by an international consortium of experts. This database will fit the needs of many types of end-users, including the general public and health professionals.

Another crucial lever for a better consideration of phytochemicals is to improve our assessment of individuals' exposure to these compounds. The second FOODPHYT objective is to develop a reference analytical method, based on metabolomics, that allows covering a comprehensive range of food phytochemical metabolites in biofluids. FOODPHYT will also validate a panel of biomarkers of intake reflecting the consumption of all major plant foods. We will investigate associations observed between plant food intake biomarkers or specific food phytochemical metabolites present in biofluids with body weight and cardiometabolic outcomes in intervention and observational studies made available for FOODPHYT.

In the context of the expected transformation of the global food system towards an unprecedented increase of plant food consumption, there is a considerable potential for improving the nutritional quality of raw and processed foods as well as dietary advices, building on a better knowledge of exposure and health effects of food phytochemicals.

1.2 Highlights

Due to the COVID-19 pandemics, activities have been delayed and although we made substantial progress, we consider that this is too early to communicate on the project results.

One achievement was the constitution of an Early Carrier Scientist group with >40 young scientists who meet (virtually) monthly for networking and for driving some transversal tasks for the project.

4. Impact

4.1 List of publications

AuthorsTitleYear, Issue, PPPartners NumberDoiPdf
Colin D Kay, Michael N Clifford, Pedro Mena*, Gordon J McDougall, Cristina Andres-Lacueva, Aedin Cassidy, Daniele Del Rio*, Nikolai Kuhnert, Claudine Manach*, Gema Pereira-Caro, Ana Rodriguez-Mateos*, Augustin Scalbert, Francisco Tomás-Barberán*, Gary Williamson, David S Wishart*, Alan CrozierRecommendations for standardizing nomenclature for dietary (poly)phenol catabolites2020, 112:1051–10686 persons from 2 partner institutions, 2 collaborator institutions and 1 advisory board institution10.1093/ajcn/nqaa204Download

4.2 Presentation of the project

Target groupAuthorsMeans of communicationHyperlinkPdf
Project participantsC. Manach (INRAE), FoodPhyt project overview, FoodPhyt Kick-off meeting, Paris, 3-4 Feb 2020Presentation

4.3 List of submitted patents and other outputs

Patent licencePartners involvedYearInternational eu or national patentCommentPdf

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s
H2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement n.696300

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