Plant products and disease prevention

Diet has a major impact on our risk of developing diseases such as heart disease and cancer. I head a research group which focuses on how components of plant-based foods (eg. fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices, oils) can benefit our health. I am interested in how these natural products are absorbed in to our bodies and what they do then.

One aim of my research is to find ways to make healthier processed foods. For example, in human volunteer studies we are testing the benefits to both the consumer and the food manufacturer of adding vegetable powders to meat products.

I am also the author of Stovies Reloaded recipe book, a healthy take on traditional Scottish recipes.

View Professor Duthie's video focussing on natural plant products.

Research focus

There is general agreement that diet plays a significant role in influencing the incidence of cancers and heart disease but there is no consensus on which dietary components are protective. Epidemiology suggests that plant-based diets are protective against some cancers such as colon cancer and heart disease. I am interested in phytochemicals in plants as some may affect pathways involved the early stages of disease development. Over the next five years my research group is embarking on major research initiatives with natural plant products of Scottish origin as this is essential for the effective improvement of public health while emphasising the sustainability and security of our food supply in the face of global climate changes.

Research Aims

  1. Determinine phytochemicals in fruit and vegetables
  2. Assess which ones are nutritionally-relevant
  3. Establish whether they moderate the development of biomarkers of disease
  4. Ascertain the mechanisms of how they influence disease development

Research team

Philip Morrice -Laboratory Manager.
Dr.Vassilios Raikos - Food scientist investigating reformulation options to provide foods with improved health impacts.
Dr. Viren Ranawana - Research Fellow
Dr. Tiffany Yang
- Research Fellow




Tigh, P., Duthie, G., Brittenden, J., Vaughan, N., Mutch, W., Simpson, W.G., Duthie, S., Horgan, G.W., Thies, F. (2013) “Effects of wheat and oat-based whole grain foods on serum lipoprotein size and distribution in overweight middle aged people: a randomised controlled trial.” PLoS One, 5 (8 Art. E70436)

Neacsu, M., McMonagle, J. Fletcher, R.J., Scobbie, L., Duncan, G.J., Cantlay, L., de Roos, B., Duthie, G.G., Russell, W.R. (2013) “Bound phytophenols from ready-to-eat cereals: Comparison with other plant-based foods.” Food Chemistry,  141 (3) pp. 2880-2886

Selman, C. McLaren, J.S., Duthie, G.G., Speakman, J.R., (2013) “Deleterious consequences of antioxidant supplementation on lifespan in a wild-derived mammal.” Biology Letters, 9 (4 Art. 20130432)

Duthie, G., Campbell, F., Bestwick, C.S., Stephen, S., Russell, W. (2013)“Antioxidant effectiveness of vegetable powders on the lipid and protein oxidative stability of cooked Turkey meat patties: implications for health.” Nutrients, 5(4) pp. 1241-1252

Ostertag, L.M., Kroon, P.A., Wood, S., Horgan, G.W., Cienfuegos-Jovellanos, E., Saha, S., Duthie, G.G., de Roos, B. (2013) “Flavan-3-ol-enriched dark chocolate and white chocolate improve acute measures of platelet function in a gender-specific way-a randomized-controlled human intervention trial.” Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, 57 (2) pp. 191-202

McEneny, J., Wade, L., Young, I.S., Masson, L., Duthie, G., McGinty, A., McMaster, C., Thies, F. (2013)  “Lycopene intervention reduces inflammation and improves HDL functionality in moderately overweight middle-aged individuals.” Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 24 (1) pp. 163-168

Additional activities

Research briefs for the Knowledge Scotland web site

Rowett Food Reports

Professor Duthie has written a selection of food reports on a range of diet-related topics

Additional Responsibilities

  • Head of Human Studies for the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health
  • Leader of Natural Products Group
  • Director of the Human Nutrition Unit
  • Chairperson of the Human Studies Management Committee
  • Chairperson of Rowett Ethics Panel

Rowett Food Reports

Clip from Brilliant Scotland on Stovies Reloaded (at 20 mins)