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Fruit and vegetable bioactives and cardiometabolic health

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death world-wide. It kills over 17 million people annually, and in Australia, close to one third of all deaths are due to CVD. Most of these deaths can be prevented or delayed. Lifestyle change could reduce risk of CVD by more than 70%, and even small lifestyle changes have the potential to lead to substantial benefits.

Increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables remains the foundation of dietary approaches to prevent CVD. This alone has the potential to cut CVD risk and associated costs by up to 25%. Surprisingly little is known about the components of these foods that contribute to blood vessel health, or the mechanisms involved. Identifying these specific components and mechanisms will enhance targeted dietary approaches for CVD prevention. Our research program aims to investigate how specific components present in fruit and vegetables could prevent CVD. It also aims to develop and evaluate new foods targeted at CVD prevention.

For more information, contact Professor Jonathan Hodgson or Associate Professor Joshua Lewis

Current Projects

Clinical trials

  • VEgetableS for vaScular hEaLth (VESSEL) study.
    A randomised controlled crossover trial investigating the short-term effects of different types of vegetables on vascular and metabolic function in middle-aged and older adults with mildly elevated blood pressure.

Cohort studies

  • The relationship between fruit, vegetables, their respective bioactives (for example flavonoids and nitrate), and vegetable diversity with long term health outcomes is currently being investigated in large national and international cohorts.

Research Team

Group Leaders

Early and mid-career researchers

HDR students

  • Mr Abadi Gebre, PhD
  • Mrs Anjana Rajendra, PhD
  • Mr Ben Parmenter, PhD
  • Mrs Caroline Hill, PhD
  • Mrs Emma Connolly, PhD
  • Mr Reindolf Anoyke, PhD
  • Dr Simone Radavelli Bagatini, PhD
  • Ms Bassant Abuelgheit, MBR

Research Assistants

  • Dr Alex Liu
  • Mr Liezhou Zhong
  • Miss Shelby Mullin
  • Mrs Tanja Grosshammer

Postgraduate student project opportunities

The research group are looking for outstanding applicants who are interested in pursuing a PhD in the area of nutrition and human health. The research will investigate the importance of specific components present in fruit and vegetables for vascular health.

  • Understanding the vascular and metabolic health benefits of organosulfur compounds found in cruciferous and allium vegetables in human studies.
  • Understanding mechanistic effect of organosulfur compounds on vascular and metabolic health using animal models.
  • Systematic review on the vascular and metabolic health benefits of organosulfur compounds found in cruciferous and allium vegetables.

For more information visit the SMHS Higher Degree by Research or HDR students project opportunities webpages.

Key Research Grants

  • Jonathan Hodgson is the recipient of a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia Senior Research Fellowship.
  • Joshua Lewis is the recipient of a National Heart Foundation of Australia Future Leader Fellowship.
  • Lauren Blekkenhorst is the recipient of a NHMRC of Australia Emerging Leadership Investigator Grant and a National Heart Foundation of Australia Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship.
  • Nicky Bondonno is the recipient of a National Health and Medical Research Council Early Career Fellowship.
  • Dietary nitrate: from villain to hero. Department of Health Western Australia Merit Award, $75 000.
  • Vegetable types and their Bioactives: Growing the evidence for Cardiovascular benefits,  Department of Health WA,  Near Miss Merit Awards,  $50,000
  • A new Western Australian flavonoid-rich apple, BravoTM, and vascular health. Edith Cowan University Industry Collaboration Grant, $84 545
  • Profiling urinary metabolites after the ingestion of flavonoid-rich foods. Edith Cowan University Early Career Research Grant, $29 810
  • Short-term effects of increased intake of cruciferous vegetables on blood pressure, oxidative stress and inflammation,  Edith Cowan University Early Career Researcher Grant - 2019,  2019 - 2020,  $29,943
  • Can the short-term consumption of vitamin K rich vegetables improve markers of musculoskeletal health?,  Edith Cowan University Early Career Researcher Grant - 2019,  2019 - 2020,  $19,474.
  • Developing a national database for vitamin K1 and K2 content in food,  Royal Perth Hospital Medical Research Foundation,  Seeding Grant,  2018 - 2020,  $17,331

Key Recent Publications

  1. Liu AH, Bondonno CP, Russell J, Flood VM, Lewis JR, Croft KD, Woodman RJ, Lim WH, Kifley A, Wong G, Mitchell P, Hodgson JM, Blekkenhorst LC. Relationship of dietary nitrate intake from vegetables with cardiovascular disease mortality: a prospective study in a cohort of older Australians. Eur J Nutr 2019; 7:2741-2753. [Impact Factor 4.4]
  2. Sim M, Prince RL, Scott D, Daly RM, Duque G, Inderjeeth C, Zhu K, Woodman RJ, Hodgson JM, Lewis JR. Sarcopenia definitions and their associations with mortality in older Australian women. J Am Med Direct Assoc 2019; 20:76-82. [Impact Factor 5.3]
  3. Sim M, Lewis JR, Blekkenhorst LC, Bondonno CP, Devine A, Zhu K, Peeling P, Prince RL, Hodgson JM. Higher dietary nitrate intake is associated with better muscle function in older women.  J Cachexia Sarcop Muscle 2019; 10:601-610. [Impact Factor 12.5]
  4. Wade AT, Davis CR, Dyer KA, Hodgson JM, Woodman RJ, Murphy KJ. Effects of Mediterranean diet supplemented with lean pork on blood pressure and markers of cardiovascular risk: Findings from the MedPork trial. Br J Nutr 2019; 122:873-883. [Impact Factor 3.3]
  5. Lewis JR, Eggermont CJ, Schousboe JT, Lim W, Wong G, Khoo B, Sim M, Yu MX, Hodgson JM, Zhu K, Wilson KE, Kiel DP, Prince RL. Association between abdominal aortic calcification, bone mineral density and fracture in older women: the Perth Longitudinal Study of Ageing Women. J Bone Min Res 2019; 34:2052-2060. [Impact Factor 6.3]
  6. Bondonno NP, Dalgaard F, Kyrø C, Murray K, Bondonno CP, Lewis JR, Croft KD, Gislason G, Scalbert A, Cassidy A, Tjønneland A, Overvad K, Hodgson JM. Flavonoid intake is associated with lower mortality in the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Cohort. Nature Commun 2019; 10:3651 [Impact Factor 12.4]
  7. Lewis JR, Brennan-Speranza TC, Levinger I, Byrnes E, Lim EEM, Blekkenhorst LC, Sim M, Hodgson JM, Zhu K, Lim WM, Adams LA, Prince RL. Effects of calcium supplementation on circulating osteocalcin and glycated haemoglobin in older women. Osteoporosis International 2019; 30: 2065-2072 [Impact Factor 3.6]
  8. Bondonno NP, Dalgaard F, Murray K, Bondonno CP, Lewis JR, Croft KD, Kyrø C, Gislason G, Scalbert A, Cassidy A, Tjønneland A, Overvad K, Hodgson JM. Associations between habitual flavonoid intake and hospital admissions for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease: a prospective cohort study. Lancet Planetary Health 2019; 3 e450-459. [Impact Factor 1.4]
  9. Blekkenhorst LC, Lewis JR, Bondonno CP, Sim M, Devine A, Zhu K, Lim WH, Woodman RJ, Beilin LJ, Thompson PL, Prince RL, Hodgson JM.  Vegetable diversity in relation with 15-year atherosclerotic vascular disease deaths and subclinical atherosclerosis in older adult women. Eur J Nutr 2019; [Impact Factor 4.4]
  10. Bondonno NP, Lewis JR, Blekkenhorst LC, Bondonno CP, Shin JHC, Croft KD, Woodman RJ, Wong G, Lim WH, Gopinath B, Flood VM, Russell J, Mitchell P, Hodgson JM. Association of flavonoids and flavonoid-rich foods with all-cause mortality: The Blue Mountains Eye Study. Clin Nutr 2019 [Impact Factor 5.5]
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