Glutathione in foods listed in the National Cancer Institute's Health Habits and History Food Frequency Questionnaire
Glutathione (GSH) is an antioxidant and anticarcinogen that is present in plant and animal tissues that form the bulk of the human diet. Recent studies show that GSH is absorbed intact in rat small intestine and that oral GSH increases plasma GSH concentration in humans. To provide a database for epidemiological studies of dietary intake of GSH and risk of diseases in humans, we have measured the content of GSH in the foods listed in the National Cancer Institute's Health Habits and History Questionnaire. Foods were purchased in the Atlanta area and prepared as most commonly consumed in the United States. GSH analyses were performed using a high-performance liquid chromatography technique with a method of additions to correct for losses during sample preparation. A separate set of samples was run after treatment with dithiothreitol to measure the total of GSH and its disulfide forms (GSH). The results show that dairy products, cereals, and breads are generally low in GSH; fruits and vegetables have moderate to high amounts of GSH; and freshly prepared meats are relatively high in GSH. Frozen foods generally had GSH contents similar to fresh foods, whereas other forms of processing and preservation generally resulted in extensive loss of GSH. Thus this database will allow researchers to examine the relationship between dietary GSH and risk of cancers and other diseases.