Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Human Nutrition and Foods

Committee Chair

Melissa Ventura Marra

Committee Co-Chair

Ida Holaskova

Committee Member

Ida Holaskova

Committee Member

Nadine Sahyoun


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and identifying CVD risk is important for determining and implementing appropriate intervention strategies. Ceramides are a class of sphingolipids that are implicated in the pathogenesis of obesity and CVD. However, their relationship to diet quality, a modifiable risk factor for CVD, is largely unknown. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to determine the association of an a priori diet quality index and body mass index (BMI) with circulating ceramides in middle-aged adults (n=96). Dietary intake was assessed using three 24-hour recalls and Nutrition Data System for Research (NDSR) software. Diet quality was estimated using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2015). Serum ceramide concentrations were determined by quantitative liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC/MS). A ceramide risk score was calculated based on published metrics. After adjusting for confounding cardiovascular risk factors, BMI (kg/m2) was positively associated with C18:0 (R2=0.31, p2=0.30, p2=0.11, p2=0.42, p=0.02). These findings suggest that BMI is more predictive of ceramide concentration than diet quality as measured by the HEI-2015 in this sample. Studies to determine if reduction in weight status results in lower ceramide risk scores in humans are needed.