Researchers have claimed that food additives and other cooking ingredients could lead to hardened arteries.
Hardening arteries, or arterial stiffness, is an independent risk factor for heart disease and death, and the mechanisms that contribute to arterial stiffening are not well understood, according to the study published in the Journal of Hypertension.
"Metabolomics can accurately measure the amount of exposures entering the body," said Changwei Li, an author of the study.
Metabolomics is the study of metabolites, which are created each time there is a transfer of energy in the body. Metabolites play a key role in maintaining the body's normal function, and changes in metabolite levels can reflect how environmental factors, like smoking, diet or pollutants, influence health.
Using the most up-to-date panel of metabolites, Li and his colleagues ran an analysis on participant blood samples, looking for environmental exposures that had an impact on measures of arterial stiffness.
The study found 27 new metabolites associated with arterial stiffness.
"We were able to identify some environmental and lifestyle related-metabolites, build metabolite networks to shown how the body reacts to the environmental exposures, and more importantly, tested the effect of those metabolites on arterial stiffness," said Li.
The majority of these were associated with other known risk factors of arterial stiffness like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.
But some of these metabolites are food additives and cooking ingredients.
For example, the team identified two peptides - gamma-glutamylvaline and gamma-glutamylisoleucine. These are commonly used to enhance the savory taste of the chicken broth.
The study raised the possibility that those additives may cause arterial stiffness. Given the wide usage of those additives, future studies are warranted to investigate their role in arterial stiffness.