New-onset vegetarian diet shows differences in fatty acid metabolites in European American and African American women

Naomi C. Wang, Minoo Bagheri, Timothy Olszewski, Katie A. Friese, Holly M. Smith, Michelle E. Robles, Chuan Wang, Andrew Brooks, Seth R. Bordenstein, Jane F. Ferguson, Heidi J. Silver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background and aims: The type of fat consumed in animal-based western diets, typically rich in the saturated fat palmitate, has been implicated in cardiometabolic disease risk. In contrast, the most abundant mono- and polyunsaturated fats, more typical in a vegetarian or plant-based diet, potentiate less deleterious effects. This study determined differences in plasma and urine metabolites when switching from omnivorous to vegetarian diet, including metabolites involved in fatty acid utilization. Methods and results: A prospective cohort of 38 European (EA) and African American (AA) omnivorous females were matched by age (25.7 ± 5.3y) and BMI (22.4 ± 1.9 kg/m2). Pre-intervention samples were collected while subjects consumed habitual animal-based diet. Changes in metabolites were assessed by ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectroscopy (Metabolon, Inc.) upon completing four days of novel vegetarian diet provided by the Vanderbilt Metabolic Kitchen. Changes in several diet-derived metabolites were observed, including increases in compounds derived from soy food metabolism along with decreases in metabolites of xanthine and histidine. Significant changes occurred in metabolites of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids along with significant differences between EA and AA women in changes in plasma concentrations of acylcarnitines, which reflect the completeness of fatty acid oxidation (versus storage). Conclusion: These data suggest improvements in fatty acid metabolism (oxidation vs storage), a key factor in energy homeostasis, may be promoted rapidly by adoption of a vegetarian (plant-based) diet. Mechanistic differences in response to diet interventions must be understood to effectively provide protection against the widespread development of obesity and cardiometabolic disease in population subgroups, such as AA women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2436-2448
Number of pages13
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 22 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'New-onset vegetarian diet shows differences in fatty acid metabolites in European American and African American women'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this