Associations of food groups and cardiometabolic and inflammatory biomarkers - Does the meal matter?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Increased attention has been paid to circadian patterns and how predisposition to metabolic disorders can be affected by meal timing. Currently, it is not clear which role can be attributed to the foods selected at meals. On a cross-sectional sub-cohort study (815 adults) within the EPIC-Potsdam study we investigated whether the same foods (vegetables, fruits, refined grains, whole grains, red and processed meats) eaten at different meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) show different associations with biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk. Meal-specific usual intakes were calculated from multiple 24h dietary recalls. Multivariable-adjusted linear regression models showed that intake of vegetables at breakfast was associated with lower LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) (-0.37 mmol/l per 50g; 95%CI: -0.61 to -0.12) and vegetables at dinner was associated with higher HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) (0.05 mmol/l per 50g; 95%CI: 0 to 0.10). Fruit intake at breakfast was associated with lower glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) (-0.06% per 50g; 95%CI: -0.10 to -0.01) and fruits at dinner with lower CRP (-0.21 mg/l per 50g; 95%CI: -0.42 to -0.01). Red and processed meat intake at breakfast was associated with higher HbA1c (0.25% per 50g; 95%CI: 0.05 to 0.46) and CRP (0.76 mg/l per 50g; 95%CI: 0.15 to 1.36). Our results suggest that by preferring fruits and vegetables and avoiding red and processed meats at specific meals (i.e., breakfast and dinner), cardiometabolic profiles and ultimately chronic disease risk could be improved. Lunch seemed to be a less important meal in terms of food-biomarker associations.


  • Carolina Schwedhelm
  • Lukas Schwingshackl
  • George O. Agogo
  • Emily Sonestedt
  • Heiner Boeing
  • Sven Knüppel
External organisations
  • German Institute of Human Nutrition
  • NutriAct - Competence Cluster Nutrition Research Berlin-Potsdam
  • Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg
  • Yale University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Gerontology, specializing in Medical and Health Sciences


  • breakfast, cardiometabolic biomarkers, chrono-nutrition, dinner, fruits and vegetables, lunch, meals, red and processed meat, refined grains, whole grains
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)707-716
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number6
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch