Diet, health and resilience

Improving diet and lifestyle is a key strategy for lifelong health. At the Rowett I am involved in leading a large range of nutrition studies, using human volunteers, to assess the health benefits of fatty acids (such as omega-3s) and plant compounds found in our diets.  We are currently running a human study to determine the effects of eating Scottish farmed salmon on omega-3 levels in the blood, heart health and immune system function.

The research we are doing can help the food industry to make their products healthier.

Research Focus

The average length of human life is increasing, but so does the incidence of age- and lifestyle-related diseases. Improving diet and lifestyle is a key strategy for lifelong health and enhanced resilience to disease development. In the past 20 years I have executed a large range of human intervention studies, and applied several relevant ex vivo and in vivo models, to assess the health properties of dietary fatty acids (such as omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acids) and bioactive plant polyphenols (such as flavan-3-ols from cocoa and phenolic acids from olives).  We assess the health effects of dietary bioactives by measurement of validated risk markers of cardiovascular disease (for example plasma lipid levels, platelet function, blood pressure) but increasingly also by measurement of novel health and resilience markers that have been identified through novel nutrigenomics technologies.

We currently run a large human intervention study to determine the effects of eating Scottish farmed salmon on the blood omega-3 index, on cardiovascular health, inflammation, immune function, oxidative stress, genetic health and gut health, in the Scottish population. The salmon have been fed two different feeds: a traditional high fish meal and fish oil feed or a more sustainable feed containing more vegetable oils but less omega-3 fatty acids and possibly other nutrients. This FISH DISH study has been commissioned by the Scottish Government’s Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS) to assess how pressures from sustainability on methods of production may affect the health giving properties of fish.


Since 2005, I have secured just under £5Million worth of funding, as main or co-applicant, from different organisations, including Scottish, UK, Spanish and Irish Governments, the British Heart Foundation and the UK Technology Strategy Board. My expertise has formed the basis of significant translational activity through contacts, contracts and consultancies with various large food companies (Stephan Nutrition, Cognis, MacPhie of Glenbervie, Provexis, Kelloggs), food levy boards (Seafish), the food and drink support sector (Food and Drink Innovation Service), and national UK television (Channel 4’s Food Hospital Series).

Recent grants include:

2013-2017 BBSRC Case PhD studentship to develop nutritional and exercise strategies to increase resilience and improve health outcomes in a target ageing population (main applicant, £95K)

2012-2014 TSB-funded grant to develop 2nd generation antioxidant ingredients for beverages from marine sources (co-applicant, £500K)

2011-2012   Kelloggs-funded industrial grant to assess novel bioactives from wheat bran (co-applicant, £50K)

2010-2013 Provexis and University of Aberdeen-funded industrial PhD studentship to develop novel anti-inflammation and anti-platelet markers to measure the efficacy of bioactive food compounds (co-applicant, £80K)

2010 Scottish Funding Council and Macphie of Glenbervie Ltd-funded pump-priming grant to measure lipid degradation products and oxidation state in food products containing non-hydrogenated oils (main applicant, £4K)

2009-2012 Lipid Nutrition and University of Aberdeen-funded industrial PhD studentship to assess the effects of CLA on platelet function, markers of haemostasis and inflammation in humans (main applicant, £84K).

2008-2011 BHF PhD studentship to determine the possible role for endocannabinoids in the cellular mechanisms of the anti-atherosclerotic effects of eicosapentanoic acid (co-applicant, £91K).

2007-2011 Rowett-BBSRC PhD studentship to determine the impact of dietary polyphenols on platelets – integrating proteomic and functional analyses (main applicant, £80K).

2007-2009 EU Network of Excellence grant - NuGO Proof of Principle Study to determine the biological variability in plasma, platelet and lymphycyte proteomics, transcriptomics, and metabolomics in human samples during baseline and after a fasting challenge (main applicant, €112K + €280)

2007-2009 EU Network of Excellence grant - NuGO Proof of Principle Study to assess the relationship between hypothalamic and hepatic response to a high-fat diet: insulin sensitivity and leptin action” (main applicant, €134K)

2006-2007 EU Network of Excellence grant - NuGO PPS funding to determine analytical variability and methodological recommendations for plasma, platelet and lymphycyte proteomics in human samples (co- applicant, €180K)

2006-2009 Senter Novem funded study on the prevention of atherosclerosis through a novel functional food (co-applicant, €1113)

2006-2007 COGNIS-funded industrial grant on modification of the transcriptome and of the proteome differentiated human adipocytes by conjugated linoleic acid isomers” (co-applicant, €26K)

2005-2008 Rowett PhD-Studentship to assess the role of fish oil on epoxyeicosatrieonic acid metabolism (main applicant, £50K)

  • Ostertag, LM., Philo, M., Colquhoun, IJ., Tapp, HS., Saha, S., Duthie, GG., Kemsley, EK., de Roos, B., Kroon, PA. & Le Gall, G. 'Acute consumption of flavan-3-ol-enriched dark chocolate affects human endogenous metabolism'. Journal of Proteome Research, pp. 1-31.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1021/acs.jproteome.7b00089
  • Manach, C., Milenkovic, D., Van de Wiele, T., Rodriguez-Mateos, A., de Roos, B., Garcia-Conesa, MT., Landberg, R., Gibney, ER., Heinonen, M., Tomás-Barberán, F. & Morand, C. (2017). 'Addressing the inter-individual variation in response to consumption of plant food bioactives: Towards a better understanding of their role in healthy ageing and cardiometabolic risk reduction'. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, vol 61, no. 6, pp. 1-16.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.201600557
    [Online] AURA: Manach_et_al_2016_Molecular_Nutrition_amp_Food_Research.pdf
  • de Roos, B., Sneddon, AA., Sprague, M., Horgan, G. & Brouwer, IA. 'The potential impact of compositional changes in farmed fish on its health-giving properties: is it time to reconsider current dietary recommendations?'. Public Health Nutrition, pp. 1-8.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1017/S1368980017000696
  • Neacsu, M., McMonagle, J., Fletcher, R., Hulshof, T., Duncan, SH., Scobbie, L., Duncan, GJ., Cantlay, L., Horgan, G., De Roos, B., Duthie, GG. & Russell, WR. 'Availability and dose response of phytophenols from a wheat bran-rich cereal product in healthy human volunteers'. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.201600202
  • De Roos, B., Binacchi, F., Whybrow, S. & Sneddon, AA. (in press). 'Differences in expenditure and amounts of fresh foods, fruits & vegetables and fish purchased in urban and rural Scotland'. Public Health Nutrition.
    [Online] AURA: s1_ln23866724_376178619_1939656818Hwf1662715993IdV_214260525...
  • Bachmair, E-M, Wood, SG., Keizer, HG., Horgan, GW., Ford, I. & de Roos, B. (2015). 'Supplementation with a 9c,11t-rich conjugated linoleic acid blend shows no clear inhibitory effects on platelet function in healthy subjects at low and moderate cardiovascular risk: A randomized controlled trial'. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, vol 59, no. 4, pp. 741-750.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.201400495
  • de Roos, B. & Duthie, GG. (2015). 'Role of dietary pro-oxidants in the maintenance of health and resilience to oxidative stress'. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, vol 59, no. 7, pp. 1229-1248.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.201400568
  • Rubio-Senent, F., de Roos, B., Duthie, G., Fernández-Bolaños, J. & Rodríguez-Gutiérrez, G. (2015). 'Inhibitory and synergistic effects of natural olive phenols on human platelet aggregation and lipid peroxidation of microsomes from vitamin E-deficient rats'. European Journal of Nutrition, vol 54, no. 8, pp. 1287-1295.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1007/s00394-014-0807-8
  • Arrabal, S., Lucena, MA., Canduela, MJ., Ramos-Uriarte, A., Rivera, P., Serrano, A., Pavón, FJ., Decara, J., Vargas, A., Baixeras, E., Martín-Rufián, M., Márquez, J., Fernández-Llébrez, P., De Roos, B., Grandes, P., Rodríguez de Fonseca, F. & Suárez, J. (2015). 'Pharmacological Blockade of Cannabinoid CB1 Receptors in Diet-Induced Obesity Regulates Mitochondrial Dihydrolipoamide Dehydrogenase in Muscle'. PloS one, vol 10, no. 12, e0145244.
    [Online] DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145244
    [Online] AURA: journal.pone.0145244.pdf
Additional Activities

Research briefs for the Knowledge Scotland web site

I am leading the University of Aberdeen Interdisciplinary Strategic Theme "Pathways to a Healthy Life", which has over 150 members. This Theme is one of the four interdisciplinary Themes initiated as part of the University of Aberdeen’s strategic plan to address key global challenges of the contemporary society. The ‘Pathways to a Healthy Life’ Theme aims to cross disciplinary boundaries to enhance the University’s contribution to all aspects of healthy aging - including the identification of novel biomarkers for health and resilience.

Further responsibilities include:

  • Selected member of the Joined Programme Initiative DEDIPAC Knowledge Hub
  • Board Member of the Scottish Cardiovascular Forum
  • Member of the Ethical Research Committee (involving the ethical review of animal studies) and the Human Studies Management Committee (involving the ethical review of human studies) at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition & Health.
  • Senior Editor for journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research
  • Editor for journal Frontiers in Nutrigenomics