Metabolomic Biomarkers of Healthy Dietary Patterns and Cardiovascular Outcomes

Hyunju Kim, Casey M. Rebholz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of Review: Healthy dietary patterns are recommended for prevention of CVD. Recently, metabolomics has been used to identify biomarkers of healthy dietary patterns and elucidate mechanisms underlying diet-disease associations. This review provides an overview of approaches to define healthy dietary patterns, discusses important issues related to using metabolomics to describe healthy dietary patterns, and summarizes studies identifying blood metabolites associated with hypothesis-driven healthy dietary patterns and cardiovascular risk factors and incident CVD. Recent findings: We identified 17 studies which reported on blood metabolomic signatures of 5 healthy dietary patterns (Healthy Eating Index, Alternative Healthy Eating Index, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet, Mediterranean diet, vegetarian diet). Four of these studies evaluated associations between diet-related metabolites and cardiovascular outcomes. Many metabolites replicated across different healthy dietary patterns, which suggest that they may represent biomarkers of generally healthy diets. Unsaturated lipids positively associated with healthy dietary patterns were inversely associated with incident CVD, suggesting that they may be a pathway through which diet is associated with a lower risk of CVD. Summary: Although many metabolites replicated across cross-sectional studies, few metabolites identified as candidate biomarkers of healthy diets in feeding studies replicated in observational studies. Additionally, limited evidence exists on the ability of diet-related metabolites to predict cardiovascular outcomes. Replication of candidate biomarkers of dietary patterns in different study designs and more studies evaluating the associations between diet-related metabolites and cardiovascular outcomes are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number26
JournalCurrent atherosclerosis reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Biomarkers
  • Diet indices
  • Hypothesis-driven dietary patterns
  • Metabolomics
  • Replication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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