Biomarkers of cereal food intake
Background/objectives: Cereal foods are major contributors to the daily energy, protein, and dietary fiber intake all over the world. The role of cereals in human health is dependent on whether they are consumed as refined or whole grain and on cereal species. To unravel the underlying mechanisms of health effects attributed to specific cereal foods and to provide more precise dietary advice, there is a need for improved dietary assessment of whole-grain intake. Dietary biomarkers of specific cereals, different fractions or cereal-containing foods could offer such a possibility. The aim of this review was to summarize the current status on biomarkers of different cereals, fractions, and specific cereal foods.
Subjects and methods: A literature review was conducted and putative biomarkers of different cereals and pseudo-cereals (wheat, oats, rye, barley, rice, and quinoa) as well as for different grain fractions (whole grain, refined grain, bran) and foods were summarized and discussed.
Results: Several putative biomarkers have been suggested for different cereals, due to their unique presence in these grains. Among the biomarkers, odd-numbered alkylresorcinols are the most well-studied and -evaluated biomarkers and reflect whole-grain wheat and rye intake. Even-numbered alkylresorcinols have been suggested to reflect quinoa intake. Recent studies have also highlighted the potential of avenanthramides and avenacosides as specific biomarkers of oat intake, and a set of biomarkers have been suggested to reflect rice bran intake. However, there are yet no specific biomarkers of refined grains. Most biomarker candidates remain to be evaluated in controlled interventions and free-living populations before applied as biomarkers of intake in food and health studies.
Conclusion: Several putative biomarkers of different cereals have been suggested and should be validated in human studies using recently developed food intake biomarker validation criteria.