Non-alcoholic beverages are important sources of nutrients and bioactive compounds that may influence human health and increase or decrease the risk of chronic diseases. A wide variety of beverage constituents are absorbed in the gut, found in the systemic circulation and excreted in urine. They may be used as compliance markers in intervention studies or as biomarkers of intake to improve measurements of beverage consumption in cohort studies and reveal new associations with disease outcomes that may have been overlooked when using dietary questionnaires. Here, biomarkers of intake of some major non-alcoholic beverages—coffee, tea, sugar-sweetened beverages, and low-calorie-sweetened beverages—are reviewed. Results from dietary intervention studies and observational studies are reviewed and analyzed, and respective strengths and weaknesses of the various identified biomarkers discussed. A variety of compounds derived from phenolic acids, alkaloids, and terpenes were shown to be associated with coffee intake and trigonelline and cyclo(isoleucylprolyl) showed a particularly high specificity for coffee intake. Epigallocatechin and 4′-O-methylepigallocatechin appear to be the most sensitive and specific biomarkers for green or black tea, while 4-O-methylgallic acid may be used to assess black tea consumption. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages has been assessed through the measurement of carbon-13 enrichment of whole blood or of blood alanine in North America where sugar from sugarcane or corn is used as a main ingredient. The most useful biomarkers for low-calorie-sweetened beverages are the low-calorie sweeteners themselves. Further studies are needed to validate these biomarkers in larger and independent populations and to further evaluate their specificity, reproducibility over time, and fields of application.
- Non-alcoholic beverages
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
- Low-calorie sweetened beverages