Importance of ethnic foods as predictors of and contributors to nutrient intake levels in a minority population

K. Abu-Saad, D. R. Shahar, H. Vardi, D. Fraser

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Scopus citations


    Objectives:To evaluate the role of ethnic foods as predictors of intake levels of selected nutrients that are important during pregnancy among the Bedouin Arab minority population in southern Israel, and to compare the main food predictors for Bedouin intakes of the selected nutrients with those for the region’s Jewish majority population.Subjects/Methods:Ethnic foods/recipes (n=122) reported in the Bedouin Nutrition Study (BNS) were added to a preexisting, validated Israeli food composition table using European Food Information Resource standard criteria. Food items reported by the 519 BNS participants were combined into146 food groups that distinguished between existing foods and new ethnic recipes and were entered into a stepwise multiple regression model to identify the main predictors of intake levels of the selected nutrients. The results were compared with those of an identical analysis for the selected nutrients using 24 h recall data from the majority Jewish population.Results:Over 80% of the BNS between-person variability in the intake of all selected nutrients was explained by 34 food groups, of which 13 (38.2%) were ethnic foods. Homemade whole wheat bread was a main predictor of intake levels for five of the eight selected nutrients, and other ethnic foods/recipes (for example, za’atar, leafy dark green vegetables and camel milk) emerged as predictors of iron, folate, calcium and ω-3 fatty acid intakes. Breads explained 60 and 44% of the between-person variation, and 38 and 36% of the total intakes of iron and zinc intakes in the BNS sample, respectively, whereas for the Jewish population, animal sources and fortified foods predominated as main predictors and contributors of these nutrients.Conclusions:The addition of ethnic foods to food composition databases is important, as some of these foods are main predictors of nutrient intake levels in ethnic minority populations. In turn, this should facilitate the development of more sensitive dietary assessment tools and more effective diet-based health interventions for ethnic minorities.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)S88-S94
    JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010


    • Bedouin Arabs
    • Between-person variation
    • Ethnic foods
    • Ethnic minorities
    • Food frequency questionnaire
    • Nutrient intake levels

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine (miscellaneous)
    • Nutrition and Dietetics


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