Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) in plasma are discussed as risk factors for the onset of several diseases. Information about the contribution of the overall diet to plasma BCAA concentrations is controversial. Our objective was to investigate which dietary pattern is associated with plasma BCAA concentrations and whether other additional nutrients besides BCAA further characterize this dietary pattern. Based on the cross-sectional KarMeN study, fasting plasma amino acid (AA) concentrations, as well as current and habitual dietary intake were assessed in 298 healthy individuals. Using reduced rank regression, we derived a habitual dietary pattern that explained 32.5% of plasma BCAA variation. This pattern was high in meat, sausages, sauces, eggs, and ice cream but low in nuts, cereals, mushrooms, and pulses. The age, sex, and energy intake adjusted dietary pattern score was associated with an increase in animal-based protein together with a decrease in plant-based protein, dietary fiber, and an unfavorable fatty acid composition. Besides BCAA, alanine, lysine and the aromatic AA were positively associated with the dietary pattern score as well. All of these factors were reported to be associated with risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases before. Our data suggest that rather than the dietary intake of BCAA, the overall dietary pattern that contributes to high BCAA plasma concentrations may modulate chronic diseases risk.
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