The American journal of clinical nutrition

An increase in renal dopamine does not stimulate natriuresis after fava bean ingestion.

PMID 23553159


Fava beans (Vicia faba) contain dihydroxyphenylalanine (dopa), and their ingestion may increase dopamine stores. Renal dopamine regulates blood pressure and blood volume via a natriuretic effect. The objective was to determine the relation between dietary fava beans, plasma and urinary catechols, and urinary sodium excretion in 13 healthy volunteers. Catechol and sodium data were compared by using a longitudinal design in which all participants consumed a fixed-sodium study diet on day 1 and the fixed-sodium diet plus fava beans on day 2. Blood was sampled at 1, 2, 4, and 6 h after a meal, and 3 consecutive 4-h urine samples were collected. Mean (±SD) plasma dopa was significantly greater 1 h after fava bean consumption (11,670 ± 5440 compared with 1705 ± 530 pg/mL; P = 0.001) and remained elevated at 6 h. Plasma dopamine increased nearly 15-fold during this period. Fava bean consumption also increased urinary dopamine excretion to 306 ± 116, 360 ± 235, and 159 ± 111 μg/4-h urine sample compared with 45 ± 21, 54 ± 29, and 44 ± 17 μg in the 3 consecutive 4-h samples after the control diet (P ≤ 0.005). These substantial increases in plasma and urinary dopa and dopamine were unexpectedly associated with decreased urinary sodium. The failure of fava bean consumption to provoke natriuresis may indicate that dopa concentrations in commercially available beans do not raise renal dopamine sufficiently to stimulate sodium excretion, at least when beans are added to a moderate-sodium diet in healthy volunteers. This trial was registered at as NCT01064739.

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