Nutritional Assessment

Introduction

Scientists, educators, nutritionists, government agencies and industries normally use information obtained from the nutritional assessment of foods to evaluate and improve the nutritional health status of the population.

The uses and needs of nutritional assessment include:

Food industry. The interest of the industry in nutritional assessment is mainly brough about by:

  • The legislation on food labeling
  • The characterization and / or development of new products:
    • Search for economically advantageous alternative compositions.
    • Identify the differences of a product compared to existing products to demonstrate nutritional superiority.
    • Identify the nutritional composition of a novel food to validate its nutritional claims.
    • Design new products that meet specific nutritional composition needs.
    • Identify nutrients that may be added to certain foods for fortification.
    • Design of special dietary foods that may be useful for the treatment of certain diseases.
  • Vision to anticipate the growing interest of consumers in food components of nutritional and healthy value

Research. The epidemiological studying of the relationhip between diet and health requires detailed information on nutritional and non-nutritional components of food.

Clinical practice. Doctors and dietitians use the information on food composition to treat a wide range of patients from specially developed diets.

Nutritional and public health surveys. Food composition data can be used to estimate the consumption of nutrients and non-nutrients from dietary surveys.

Nutritional education. Food composition tables are used to prepare food guides and to elaborate menus in order to illustrate nutritional principles.

Analytic Identification

  • Participation in the elaboration of food composition tables on bioactive compounds for inclusion in food labelling.
  • Use and optimization of advanced methods of rapid, highly sensitive and selective analyses for the identification and characterization of a variety of bioactive compounds in several food matrices variety.
Bioactive compounds Food matrices
  • Phenol compounds (flavonols, flanoves, isoflanoves, anthocyanins, procyanidins, lignans, resveratrols, …)
  • Proteins and peptides
  • Lipids (fatty acids, n-3, n-6, CLA, diacylglycerides, …)
  • Phytosterol
  • Pigments (chlorophylls, carotenoids, anthocyanins, …)
  • Tocopherols
  • Flavor compounds
  • Antioxidants amines
  • Fiber
  • Probiotics (lactic bacteria, …)
  • citric fruits
  • green tea extracts
  • honeys
  • wine
  • cocoa
  • forest fruits/berries
  • oils
  • by-products of plant/vegetal origin
  • by-products of animal origin

Biofunctionality

Assessment of the nutritional and healthy potential of bioactive compounds in various food matrices from the direct measurement of biological effects or the use of reliable biomarkers in:

Experimental or preclinical studies: Clinical studies:
  • in silico (computer simulated).
  • in vitro in cells (mechanisms).
  • in vivo in animals (mechanisms.
  • epidemiological in humans (indirect).
  • intervention on humans (direct).

These studies may provide information regarding:

Bioavailability and metabolism
  • Study of access of functional ingredients and general dietary components into the blood stream and cells:
  • Identification and quantification of bioactive compounds and their metabolites in biological fluids (plasma, serum and urine) and tissue after oral administration.
  • Evaluation of digestibility of bioactive compounds in in vitro models
Biofunctionality (physiological and biochemical characterization)
  • Establishing a causal relationship between nutrients and functional ingredients and functions of cells, organs and organisms in the prevention of certain pathophysiological processes.
Nutrigenomics, proteomics and metabolomics

  • Description of the proteome of an individual after the intake of bioactive compounds (nutrigenomics).
  • Description of the resulting biological effects caused by the altered proteome (proteomics).
  • Determination of the type of metabolites formed and their concentration in biological fluids such as cell responses to such changes (metabolomics).
  • Obtainment of consumption markers and effect markers (status of diseases) and their possible interactions.