The study, published in the journal Lipids, suggests that the fatty acid composition of blood is not only a biomarker for the quality of dietary fat but also reflects the quality of dietary carbohydrates. For example, the team reveal that blood levels of oleic acid were found to be higher among children who consumed a lot of candy and little high-fibre grain products.
Led by Taisa Venäläinen from the University of Eastern Finland, the researchers investigated the cross-sectional associations of food consumption with the proportions of fatty acids (FA), and estimated desaturase activities in plasma cholesteryl esters (CE) and phospholipids (PL) in children.
"The results of our study suggest that plasma FA composition is not only a biomarker for dietary fat quality but also reflects the consumption of high-fibre grain products and foods high in sugar among children," said the team.
Venäläinen and her colleagues analysed data from a population sample of 423 children aged 6–8 years examined at baseline of The Physical Activity and Nutrition in Children (PANIC) Study.
"We assessed food consumption by food records and plasma FA composition by gas chromatography," explained the team - who then used linear regression models to adjust for age, sex, physical activity and total energy intake to better analyse the associations.
The team reported that a higher consumption of vegetable oil-based margarine was associated with a higher proportion of linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids in plasma CE and PL, while a higher consumption of high-fibre grain products was related to a lower proportion of oleic acid in CE and PL.
"The consumption of candy was directly associated with the proportion of palmitoleic and oleic acid in plasma CE," wrote the team, adding that vegetable oil-based margarine consumption was inversely associated with estimated stearoyl-CoA-desaturase activity in plasma CE and PL and the consumption of candy was directly related to it in plasma CE.
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1007/s11745-014-3894-7
"Cross-Sectional Associations of Food Consumption with Plasma Fatty Acid Composition and Estimated Desaturase Activities in Finnish Children"
Authors: Taisa Venäläinen, Ursula Schwab, et al