Impact of Fruit and Vegetable Protein vs. Milk Protein on Metabolic Control of Children with Phenylketonuria: A Randomized Crossover Controlled Trial

Alex Pinto, Anne Daly, Júlio César Rocha, Catherine Ashmore, Sharon Evans, Richard Jackson, Anne Payne, Mary Hickson, Anita MacDonald

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Abstract

Fruits and vegetables containing phenylalanine ≤ 75 mg/100 g (except potatoes) have little impact on blood phenylalanine in phenylketonuria (PKU). In a randomized, controlled, crossover intervention trial, we examined the effect of increasing phenylalanine intake from fruits and vegetables, containing phenylalanine 76–100 mg /100 g, compared with milk protein sources on blood phenylalanine control. This was a five-phase study (4 weeks each phase). In Phase A, patients remained on their usual diet and then were randomly allocated to start Phase B and C (an additional phenylalanine intake of 50 mg/day, then 100 mg from fruits and vegetables containing phenylalanine 76–100 mg/100 g) or Phase D and E (an additional phenylalanine intake of 50 mg/day then 100 mg/day from milk sources). There was a 7-day washout with the usual phenylalanine-restricted diet between Phase B/C and D/E. Blood phenylalanine was measured on the last 3 days of each week. If four out of six consecutive blood phenylalanine levels were >360 μmol/L in one arm, this intervention was stopped. Sixteen patients (median age 10.5 y; range 6–12 y) were recruited. At baseline, a median of 6 g/day (range: 3–25) natural protein and 60 g/day (range: 60–80) protein equivalent from protein substitute were prescribed. Median phenylalanine levels were: Phase A—240 μmol/L; Phase B—260 μmol/L; Phase C—280 μmol/L; Phase D—270 μmol/L and Phase E—280 μmol/L. All patients tolerated an extra 50 mg/day of phenylalanine from fruit and vegetables, containing phenylalanine 76–100 mg/100 g, but only 11/16 (69%) tolerated an additional 100 mg /day. With milk protein, only 8/16 (50%) tolerated an extra 50 mg/day and only 5/16 (31%) tolerated an additional 100 mg/day of phenylalanine. Tolerance was defined as maintaining consistent blood phenylalanine levels < 360 μmol/L throughout each study arm. There was a trend that vegetable protein had less impact on blood phenylalanine control than milk protein, but overall, the differences were not statistically significant (p = 0.152). This evidence supports the PKU European Guidelines cutoff that fruit and vegetables containing 76–100 mg phenylalanine/100 g should be calculated as part of the phenylalanine exchange system. Tolerance of the ‘free use’ of these fruits and vegetables depends on inter-patient variability but cannot be recommended for all patients with PKU.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4268
JournalNutrients
Volume14
Issue number20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Keywords

  • fruits
  • metabolic control
  • milk protein
  • phenylalanine
  • phenylketonuria
  • vegetables

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