The chemical composition of food and our health

What if we had a better understanding of what’s in our food?

A team of researchers are working to answer that question by building a comprehensive database of all compounds found in our foods. The advantage of such a database, researchers say, could help us lead healthier lives.

Using garlic as an example, researchers mined existing literature. Using machine learning to refine an extensive list, they then manually evaluated 299 papers. They found 1,426 chemical measurements pertaining to garlic’s composition, including new information for 170 compounds that current databases do not account for.

About 30% of these chemicals have potential health effects, while their concentration in garlic as well as how the interact with other chemicals in food during ingestion, remains unknown. The study, published in Nature Food, was partly funded by NHLBI.

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Northeastern University