Diet: Test detects fats ingested through food

Diet: Test detects fats ingested through food

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New test to better prove nutritional interventions

A new test can track individual fat intake reliably and accurately, reports a Canadian research team. The test could become an important tool in public health to develop better nutrition guides. This is urgently necessary, because especially in recommendations on fats there are currently widely divergent views.

Researchers at McMaster University in Canada are introducing a novel test that can use tiny amounts of blood to check the fats a person has ingested through food. This would allow better conclusions to be drawn about health, since current knowledge in the diet area is mainly based on statements by participants. The test was recently featured in the Journal of Lipid Research.

Unreliability in nutritional research

Establishing reliable nutritional guidelines is a major challenge for nutritional epidemiologists because they have to rely on the study participants to record their own consumption faithfully. The results based on it are prone to human error and selective reporting. This always leads to contradictory recommendations in the area of ​​nutrition, especially when it comes to high-fat diets.

Test detects fats ingested through food

McMaster University chemists have now developed a test that can detect free-circulating fatty acids in the blood. Small amounts of blood are sufficient. More specifically, the test can detect specific non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAs). This enables a more precise picture of the fats consumed through food.

Which makes food research difficult

"Epidemiologists need better ways to reliably assess food intake if they develop nutritional recommendations," emphasizes Professor Philip Britz-McKibbin, the study's lead author. “The foods we consume are highly complex and difficult to measure,” says the chemical biologist. There are thousands of chemicals that we consume through food. With such complex processes, one should not rely on self-reports or reminders.

Controversial recommendations for fat intake

“Fat intake is one of the most controversial aspects of public health nutrition policy,” explains the professor. Only when it is possible to reliably measure what has actually been ingested through food can credible and reliable nutritional recommendations be developed, according to Britz-McKibbin.

Test should answer numerous nutritional questions better

In this way, the researchers want to clarify nutritional questions, such as whether fish oil supplements make sense for pregnant women, whether certain foods lead to better baby health, what influence NEFAs and other metabolites have on children's health, and whether certain amounts of fats linked to the development of obesity, the development of the metabolic syndrome or the risk of chronic diseases. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Philip Britz-McKibbin, Sandi M. Azab, Russell J. de Souza, et al .: Serum non-esterified fatty acids have utility as dietary biomarkers of fat intake from fish, fish oil and dairy in women; in: Journal of Lipid Research, 2020,

Video: The Truth About Allergies and Food Sensitivity Tests (September 2022).


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