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📕 Holistic Analysis Enhances the Description of Metabolic Complexity in Dietary Natural Products

Simmler C, Kulakowski D, Lankin DC, McAlpine JB, Chen S and Pauli GF
Advances in Nutrition , 179-189 (2016)


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In the field of food and nutrition, complex natural products (NPs) are typically obtained from cells/tissues of diverse organisms such as plants, mushrooms, and animals. Among them, edible fruits, grains, and vegetables represent most of the human diet. Because of an important dietary dependence, the comprehensive metabolomic analysis of dietary NPs, performed holistically via the assessment of as many metabolites as possible, constitutes a fundamental building block for understanding the human diet. Both mass spectrometry (MS) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) are important complementary analytic techniques, covering a wide range of metabolites at different concentrations. Particularly, 1-dimensional 1H-NMR offers an unbiased overview of all metabolites present in a sample without prior knowledge of its composition, thereby leading to an untargeted analysis. In the past decade, NMR-based metabolomics in plant and food analyses has evolved considerably. The scope of the present review, covering literature of the past 5 y, is to address the relevance of 1H-NMR–based metabolomics in food plant studies, including a comparison with MS-based techniques. Major applications of NMR-based metabolomics for the quality control of dietary NPs and assessment of their nutritional values are presented.