A nutrient-dense, high-fiber, fruit-based supplement bar increases HDL cholesterol, particularly large HDL, lowers homocysteine, and raises glutathione in a 2-wk trial.
Dietary intake modulates disease risk, but little is known how components within food mixtures affect pathophysiology. A low-calorie, high-fiber, fruit-based nutrient-dense bar of defined composition (e.g., vitamins and minerals, fruit polyphenolics, β-glucan, docosahexaenoic acid) appropriate for deconstruction and mechanistic studies is described and evaluated in a pilot trial. The bar was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Changes in cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk biomarkers were measured after 2 wk twice-daily consumption of the bar, and compared against baseline controls in 25 healthy adults. Plasma HDL-cholesterol (HDL-c) increased 6.2% (P=0.001), due primarily to a 28% increase in large HDL (HDL-L; P<0.0001). Total plasma homocysteine (Hcy) decreased 19% (P=0.017), and glutathione (GSH) increased 20% (P=0.011). The changes in HDL and Hcy are in the direction associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline; increased GSH reflects improved antioxidant defense. Changes in biomarkers linked to insulin resistance and inflammation were not observed. A defined food-based supplement can, within 2 wk, positively impact metabolic biomarkers linked to disease risk. These results lay the groundwork for mechanistic/deconstruction experiments to identify critical bar components and putative synergistic combinations responsible for observed effects.