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The influence of socio-demographic factors on patterns of thyme and thyme products consumption: the case of a Mediterranean country

Abstract

Thyme intake assessment is gaining significance because thyme is becoming a global staple food and its use has been on the rise. In our study, a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) was developed to assess thyme intake in Lebanon. Out of the total 1555 adult participants, 1523 persons (97.9%) consumed at least one thyme product among the14 assessed thyme-containing products. The mean consumption of thyme products was estimated to be 425.5 g/day, providing an estimated 31.4 g/day of thyme. Thyme pie had the highest mean intake (72.5 g/day) and represented the highest thyme contribution (10.4 g/day) among all thyme products, while crackers with thyme had the lowest mean intake (3.7 g/day) and the lowest thyme contribution (0.2 g/day). The mean consumption values for thyme products were significantly different between participants of different genders, age categories, socio-economic and demographic levels. This study highlighted the importance of a food frequency questionnaire as a tool for data collection about the consumption patterns.

Keywords:
thyme; food frequency questionnaire; dietary intake; herbs

1 Introduction

Herbs and spices are widely used ingredients in food preparation. They are becoming a global trend and their use has been on the rise in the last century (Alezandro et al., 2011Alezandro, M., Lui, M., Lajolo, F., & Genovese, M. (2011). Commercial spices and industrial ingredients: evaluation of antioxidant capacity and flavonoids content for functional foods development. Food Science and Technology, 31(2), 527-533. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0101-20612011000200038.
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; Carraro et al., 2012Carraro, C. I., Machado, R., Espindola, V., Campagnol, P. C. B., & Pollonio, M. A. R. (2012). The effect of sodium reduction and the use of herbs and spices on the quality and safety of bologna sausage. Food Science and Technology, 32(2), 289-297. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0101-20612012005000051.
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; Vallverdú-Queralt et al., 2015Vallverdú-Queralt, A., Regueiro, J., Alvarenga, J. F. R., Martinez-Huelamo, M., Leal, L. No., & Lamuela-Raventos, R. M. (2015). Characterization of the phenolic and antioxidant profiles of selected culinary herbs and spices: caraway, turmeric, dill, marjoram and nutmeg. Food Science and Technology, 35(1), 189-195. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1678-457X.6580.
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; Szűcs et al., 2018Szűcs, V., Szabó, E., Lakner, Z., & Székács, A. (2018). National seasoning practices and factors affecting the herb and spice consumption habits in Europe. Food Control, 83, 147-156. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2017.04.039.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.201...
; Sedlacek-Bassani et al., 2020Sedlacek-Bassani, J., Grassi, T., Diniz, J., & Ponsano, E. (2020). Spices as natural additives for beef burger production. Food Science and Technology, 40(4), 817-821. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/fst.21019.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/fst.21019...
). Lebanese thyme gained significant importance, increased demand and is exported mainly to the Gulf countries as well as the United States, Australia, and Germany (Ghanem, 2018Ghanem, R. (2018). Thyme exports doubled in one year. Retrieved from http://www.businessnews.com.lb/cms/Story/StoryDetails/6784/Thyme-exports-doubled-in-one-year
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; Hamade, 2016Hamade, K. (2016). Non-wood forest product: value chains in Lebanon. Beirut: FAO.).

Thyme is the most frequently used herb and it is a part of several recipes in different cuisines including European, Mediterranean, American and others (Kapadia, 2021Kapadia, J. (2021). What is thyme? A guide to buying, cooking, and storing thyme. Retrieved from https://www.thespruceeats.com/all-about-thyme-996135/
https://www.thespruceeats.com/all-about-...
). It could be used in two forms, either fresh or dried (Kapadia, 2021Kapadia, J. (2021). What is thyme? A guide to buying, cooking, and storing thyme. Retrieved from https://www.thespruceeats.com/all-about-thyme-996135/
https://www.thespruceeats.com/all-about-...
) and added to several recipes, such as pita bread sandwiches, pizza, pasta, salads, pies (known as manakeesh), crunchy bread sticks (known as Kaak), dressings, and ready-to eat meals. Furthermore, it could be mixed with other ingredients to develop a very commonly used thyme mixture consisting of dried thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, and olive oil (Culture of Arab Food, 2017Culture of Arab Food. (2017). Time for thyme. Retrieved from https://cultureofarabfood.wordpress.com/2017/11/15/time-for-thyme/#:~:text=Use%20in%20the%20Arab%20Food
https://cultureofarabfood.wordpress.com/...
).

Thyme has many beneficial effects on human health. It can be considered as a table salt substitute, and thus decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases and help hypertension patients limit their salt consumption and therefore maintain their blood pressure level (Gajewska et al., 2020Gajewska, D., Kęszycka, P. K., Sandzewicz, M., Kozłowski, P., & Myszkowska-Ryciak, J. (2020). Intake of dietary salicylates from herbs and spices among adult Polish omnivores and vegans. Nutrients, 12(9), 2727. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu12092727. PMid:32900002.
http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu12092727...
).

Thyme has a high vitamin content, such as vitamin E (antioxidant), folate, riboflavin, biotin, as well as other minerals like iron, potassium, calcium and zinc (Dauqan & Abdullah, 2017Dauqan, E. M. A., & Abdullah, A. (2017). Medicinal and functional values of thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) herb. Journal of Applied Biology & Biotechnology, 5(2), 17-22.). It also contains several active chemical compounds, such as carvacrol that, in addition to its antimicrobial properties, was found to help in preventing obesity and diabetes in mouse models (Dauqan & Abdullah, 2017Dauqan, E. M. A., & Abdullah, A. (2017). Medicinal and functional values of thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) herb. Journal of Applied Biology & Biotechnology, 5(2), 17-22.). However, thyme is not a realistic source of the aforementioned nutrients as it is consumed as part of a mixture of other ingredients, such as sesame, nuts and sumac.

Thyme and its mixing ingredients can be exposed to biological and chemical contaminants, causing a threat to human health. These contaminants may be introduced to food through multiple pathways; such as environmental pollution (e.g. heavy metals) and poor agricultural practices (pesticide residues and mycotoxins) (Hassan & Ramaswamy, 2011Hassan, H. F., & Ramaswamy, H. S. (2011). Heat resistance of G. stearothermophilus and C. sporogenes in meat and carrot alginate purees. Journal of Food Processing and Preservation, 35(3), 376-385. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-4549.2011.00519.x.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-4549.20...
; Hassan et al., 2012Hassan, H., Ramaswamy, H., & Dwivedi, M. (2012). Overall and fluid-to-particle heat transfer coefficients associated with canned particulate non-newtonian fluids during free bi-axial rotary thermal processing. International Journal of Food Engineering, 8(3). Online. http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/1556-3758.2392.
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; Arnich et al., 2012Arnich, N., Sirot, V., Rivière, G., Jean, J., Noël, L., Guérin, T., & Leblanc, J.-C. (2012). Dietary exposure to trace elements and health risk assessment in the 2nd French Total Diet Study. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 50(7), 2432-2449. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2012.04.016. PMid:22521625.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2012.04....
).

Therefore, assessment of thyme products consumption is of considerable importance to assess both the health benefits and risks of exposure to contaminants through their dietary intake. This can be accomplished by the mean of data collection at the individual level targeting the portion size consumed of a specific food item containing thyme as well as the consumption frequency, without neglecting the added quantity of thyme (Siruguri & Bhat, 2015Siruguri, V., & Bhat, R. V. (2015). Assessing intake of spices by pattern of spice use, frequency of consumption and portion size of spices consumed from routinely prepared dishes in southern India. Nutrition Journal, 14(1), 7. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-14-7. PMid:25577292.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-14-7...
).

Simple and complex techniques were used to assess the dietary intake. The simple techniques include food records, 24-hour recall, diet histories and food frequency questionnaire (FFQ), while the complex techniques are biochemical tests considering nutrient intakes in blood and urine (Moghames et al., 2015Moghames, P., Hammami, N., Hwalla, N., Yazbeck, N., Shoaib, H., Nasreddine, L., & Naja, F. (2015). Validity and reliability of a food frequency questionnaire to estimate dietary intake among Lebanese children. Nutrition Journal, 15(1), 4. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12937-015-0121-1. PMid:26753989.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12937-015-012...
). FFQ is a method used for epidemiological studies in order to assess long-term food consumption pattern of a particular item within a defined population. A single administration is capable of capturing the variability and availability of food when using FFQ (Saravia et al., 2018Saravia, L., González-Zapata, L. I., Rendo-Urteaga, T., Ramos, J., Collese, T. S., Bove, I., Delgado, C., Tello, F., Iglesia, I., Gonçalves Sousa, E. D., Moraes, A. C. F., Carvalho, H. B., & Moreno, L. A. (2018). Development of a food frequency questionnaire for assessing dietary intake in children and adolescents in South America. Obesity, 26(Suppl. 1), S31-S40. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/oby.22114. PMid:29464920.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/oby.22114...
). Moreover, FFQ can rank individuals according to their usual intake (Saravia et al., 2018Saravia, L., González-Zapata, L. I., Rendo-Urteaga, T., Ramos, J., Collese, T. S., Bove, I., Delgado, C., Tello, F., Iglesia, I., Gonçalves Sousa, E. D., Moraes, A. C. F., Carvalho, H. B., & Moreno, L. A. (2018). Development of a food frequency questionnaire for assessing dietary intake in children and adolescents in South America. Obesity, 26(Suppl. 1), S31-S40. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/oby.22114. PMid:29464920.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/oby.22114...
).

FFQ, 24-hour recall, diet records and diet histories examine the relationship between diet and disease, but FFQ can additionally identify the dose-response relationship. However, all previously discussed methods are susceptible to biases such as memory and recall biases (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2018Food and Agriculture Organization – FAO. (2018). Dietary assessment: a resource guide to method selection and application in low resource settings. Rome: FAO.; Fagúndez et al., 2015Fagúndez, L. J. M., Torres, A. R., Sánchez, M. E. G., Aured, M. L. T., Rodrigo, C. P., & Rocamora, J. A. I. (2015). Historia dietética: metodología y aplicaciones. Nutrición Hospitalaria, 31(Suppl. 3), 57-61. PMid:25719772.).

Methods of quantification present a wide range of challenges; thus, accurate measurements and knowledge of frequency of consumption are crucial to assess food intake in order to prevent measurement errors (Saravia et al., 2018Saravia, L., González-Zapata, L. I., Rendo-Urteaga, T., Ramos, J., Collese, T. S., Bove, I., Delgado, C., Tello, F., Iglesia, I., Gonçalves Sousa, E. D., Moraes, A. C. F., Carvalho, H. B., & Moreno, L. A. (2018). Development of a food frequency questionnaire for assessing dietary intake in children and adolescents in South America. Obesity, 26(Suppl. 1), S31-S40. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/oby.22114. PMid:29464920.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/oby.22114...
). Previous studies used food frequency questionnaire to assess various dietary intakes including herbs and spices. These were conducted in Asian countries such as Southern India (Siruguri & Bhat, 2015Siruguri, V., & Bhat, R. V. (2015). Assessing intake of spices by pattern of spice use, frequency of consumption and portion size of spices consumed from routinely prepared dishes in southern India. Nutrition Journal, 14(1), 7. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-14-7. PMid:25577292.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-14-7...
), Sri Lanka (Jayawardena et al., 2012Jayawardena, R., Swaminathan, S., Byrne, N. M., Soares, M. J., Katulanda, P., & Hills, A. P. (2012). Development of a food frequency questionnaire for Sri Lankan adults. Nutrition Journal, 11(1), 63. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-11-63. PMid:22937734.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-11-6...
), Japan (Sunami et al., 2016Sunami, A., Sasaki, K., Suzuki, Y., Oguma, N., Ishihara, J., Nakai, A., Yasuda, J., Yokoyama, Y., Yoshizaki, T., Tada, Y., Hida, A., & Kawano, Y. (2016). Validity of a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire for collegiate athletes. Journal of Epidemiology, 26(6), 284-291. http://dx.doi.org/10.2188/jea.JE20150104. PMid:26902164.
http://dx.doi.org/10.2188/jea.JE20150104...
), Middle East countries such as Jordan (Tayyem et al., 2020Tayyem, R. F., Albataineh, S. R., Allehdan, S., & Badran, E. (2020). Development and validation of a food frequency questionnaire for assessing nutrient intake during childhood in Jordan. Nutrición Hospitalaria, 37(6), 1095-1106. http://dx.doi.org/10.20960/nh.03079. PMid:33054311.
http://dx.doi.org/10.20960/nh.03079...
) and European countries including Austria, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Slovakia, the Netherlands (Szűcs et al., 2018Szűcs, V., Szabó, E., Lakner, Z., & Székács, A. (2018). National seasoning practices and factors affecting the herb and spice consumption habits in Europe. Food Control, 83, 147-156. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2017.04.039.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.201...
), Norway (Carlsen et al., 2010Carlsen, M. H., Lillegaard, I. T., Karlsen, A., Blomhoff, R., Drevon, C. A., & Andersen, L. F. (2010). Evaluation of energy and dietary intake estimates from a food frequency questionnaire using independent energy expenditure measurement and weighed food records. Nutrition Journal, 9(1), 37. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-9-37. PMid:20843361.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-9-37...
), France (Gazan et al., 2017Gazan, R., Vieux, F., Darmon, N., & Maillot, M. (2017). Structural validation of a French food frequency questionnaire of 94 items. Frontiers in Nutrition, 4, 62. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2017.00062. PMid:29326941.
http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2017.0006...
), and Belgium (Tollosa et al., 2017Tollosa, D. N., Van Camp, J., Huybrechts, I., Huybregts, L., Van Loco, J., Smet, S., Sterck, E., Rabâi, C., Van Hecke, T., Vanhaecke, L., Vossen, E., Peeters, M., & Lachat, C. (2017). Validity and reproducibility of a food frequency questionnaire for dietary factors related to colorectal cancer. Nutrients, 9(11), 1257. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu9111257. PMid:29149033.
http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu9111257...
).

In Lebanon, recently, Hassan et al. (2022)Hassan, H. F., Koaik, L., Khoury, A., Atoui, A., Obeid, T., & Karam, L. (2022). Dietary exposure and risk assessment of mycotoxins in thyme and thyme-based products marketed in Lebanon. Toxins, 14(5), 331. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins14050331. PMid:35622578.
http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins14050331...
and Karam et al. (2021)Karam, L., Salloum, T., Hage, R., Hassan, H., & Hassan, H. F. (2021). How can packaging, source and food safety management system affect the microbiological quality of spices and dried herbs? The case of a developing country. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 353, 109295. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2021.109295. PMid:34166957.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro....
assessed the safety of thyme products marketed in the country in terms of microorganisms and mycotoxins, respectively. In addition, several studies used FFQ to assess food consumption patterns of different food groups for adults in Beirut (Nasreddine et al., 2006Nasreddine, L., Hwalla, N., Sibai, A., Hamzé, M., & Parent-Massin, D. (2006). Food consumption patterns in an adult urban population in Beirut, Lebanon. Public Health Nutrition, 9(2), 194-203. http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/PHN2005855. PMid:16571173.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/PHN2005855...
), to estimate intake of vitamins A, C, and E in rural and urban areas all over the country (Zalaket et al., 2019Zalaket, J., Matta, J., & Hanna-Wakim, L. (2019). Development, validity, and reproducibility of a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire for the assessment of antioxidant vitamins intake in Lebanon. Nutrition, 58, 11-17. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2018.06.014. PMid:30273820.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2018.06....
) and to evaluate eating habits among Lebanese University students in Beirut (Yahia et al., 2008Yahia, N., Achkar, A., Abdallah, A., & Rizk, S. (2008). Eating habits and obesity among Lebanese university students. Nutrition Journal, 7(1), 32. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-7-32. PMid:18973661.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-7-32...
). However, no studies in Lebanon were done so far to estimate thyme consumption, especially, that this product is becoming trendy and staple worldwide

Therefore, the key objectives of this study were to (i) assess the frequency and average of thyme products consumption in Lebanon, (ii) identify the most consumed thyme products, (iii) assess the effect of socio-demographic and economic factors on thyme consumption.

2 Materials and methods

2.1 Sample characteristics

A cross-sectional survey was carried out on a convenient sample of adults living in Lebanon. The sample size calculation was performed using Epi InfoTM based on a 50% prevalence of thyme consumption and a precision (d) of 2.5% yielding a target number of sample size equal to 1541 participants taking into consideration that the total Lebanese population was equal to 3.8 million (Yaacoub & Badre, 2012Yaacoub, N., & Badre, L. (2012). Population and housing in Lebanon. Retrieved from http://www.cas.gov.lb/images/PDFs/SIF/CAS_Population_and_housing_In_Lebanon_SIF2.pdf
http://www.cas.gov.lb/images/PDFs/SIF/CA...
). This number was proportionally distributed and stratified into the 5 administrative regions (Yaacoub & Badre, 2012Yaacoub, N., & Badre, L. (2012). Population and housing in Lebanon. Retrieved from http://www.cas.gov.lb/images/PDFs/SIF/CAS_Population_and_housing_In_Lebanon_SIF2.pdf
http://www.cas.gov.lb/images/PDFs/SIF/CA...
): Beirut, Mount Lebanon and Beirut suburbs, North, South and Bekaa (Table 1). We have exceeded this target number by additional 16 questionnaires to have a total of 1555 participants. If the participant had children (aged below 18 years old), additional consumption data was filled by any of the parents on their behalf.

Table 1
Distribution of sample habitants in different administrative regions (Yaacoub & Badre, 2012Yaacoub, N., & Badre, L. (2012). Population and housing in Lebanon. Retrieved from http://www.cas.gov.lb/images/PDFs/SIF/CAS_Population_and_housing_In_Lebanon_SIF2.pdf
http://www.cas.gov.lb/images/PDFs/SIF/CA...
).

2.2 Food consumption and dietary assessment method

Food consumption data were obtained using a semi-quantitative Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) to estimate food intake between April 2018 and January 2019. All study procedures were approved by the Institutional Review Board at our university. The questionnaire was based on that of Moghames et al. (2015)Moghames, P., Hammami, N., Hwalla, N., Yazbeck, N., Shoaib, H., Nasreddine, L., & Naja, F. (2015). Validity and reliability of a food frequency questionnaire to estimate dietary intake among Lebanese children. Nutrition Journal, 15(1), 4. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12937-015-0121-1. PMid:26753989.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12937-015-012...
and was piloted with 50 participants before the beginning of data collection. The study participants were interviewed face to face by a trained dietitian for around 7 to 12 min.

This questionnaire consisted of closed-ended questions divided in three parts: The first part addressed questions related to personal data, weight (kg) and indicators of socio-economic level, such as area of residence, educational and income levels.

The second part was a table that consisted of a list of 14 thyme-containing products that are commonly used by Lebanese population. These items were selected through market screening. The English, traditional names, thyme content/contribution and photos of the thyme products are shown in Table 2. The thyme content of each product was estimated through traditional recipe formulations extracted from local cookbooks or by weighing the added thyme using a digital high precision (± 0.01g) balance (Gerbertini Europe 500 machine, Italy). The frequency of consumption ranging from daily, weekly, monthly, less than 1 month and never eaten as well as the standard portion size consumed were collected. Furthermore, any exceptional or increased consumption and sources of products were also considered. The participants who never consumed a thyme product were considered as non-consumers.

Table 2
Thyme products assessed in the food frequency questionnaire.

The third part provided tool for helping participants to accurately report the source and quantity of thyme products intake by suggesting brands, bakeries and standard reference portion size for each food item using photographs and local household units such as plate, bowl, spoons of different size (tablespoon, teaspoon) and teacups.

Thyme products intake was expressed as daily consumption in grams (g/day) taking into account the frequency of consumption and the estimated portion sizes.

This study was approved by the Institutional Ethical Review Board at our university and each participant signed a consent form before filling the FFQ.

2.3 Statistical analysis

Statistical analyses were performed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (IBM SPSS statistics version 20) software. The analyses were stratified by age and gender whenever appropriate. T-test was performed to compare mean consumption values between genders (men and women), and ANOVA to compare demographic, socioeconomic characteristics, and age groups. The results were expressed as means ± SD (standard deviation) and frequency (%). Differences were considered statistically significant at p < 0.05.

3 Results and discussion

3.1 Socio-demographic characteristics

Among the total number of interviewed participants (n = 1555), 1523 adults (97.9%) were consumers of thyme products (Table 3). Average age was 35 years and average weight was 72 kg. More than half of the participants (56.8%) were females as similarly reflected in other work where Females were the biggest proportion of the Lebanese population (Nasreddine et al., 2006Nasreddine, L., Hwalla, N., Sibai, A., Hamzé, M., & Parent-Massin, D. (2006). Food consumption patterns in an adult urban population in Beirut, Lebanon. Public Health Nutrition, 9(2), 194-203. http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/PHN2005855. PMid:16571173.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/PHN2005855...
; Yaacoub & Badre, 2012Yaacoub, N., & Badre, L. (2012). Population and housing in Lebanon. Retrieved from http://www.cas.gov.lb/images/PDFs/SIF/CAS_Population_and_housing_In_Lebanon_SIF2.pdf
http://www.cas.gov.lb/images/PDFs/SIF/CA...
).

Table 3
Socio-demographic characteristics of participants.

Participants were recruited according to the percentage of habitants in the five main residence areas in Lebanon and the majority of the participants were located in urban (64.7%) areas (Tables 1-3). Most of the participants had a bachelor degree (45.9%), followed by technical/high school (24.6%), elementary (13.8%) and then postgraduate (15.7%). As for the income, more than 75% of the participants earned more than 1000$ per month (1$ was equivalent to 1515 LBP).

3.2 Frequency of consumption

Thyme regular mix sandwich, thyme pie and fresh thyme salad were observed to have the highest daily frequency of consumption among thyme products (9.1, 3.3, and 5.2%, respectively). Same order of 25.3, 34.9 and 19.7% was noted on weekly basis (Table 4). In addition, on a monthly basis, thyme pie was the highest consumed thyme product (36.1%), followed by pizza and pasta with thyme sauces (33.8%) and thyme croissant (26.4%). However, the lowest frequencies of less than once per month and never, were observed for sesame thick bread (14.9%) and tea thyme (82.2%), respectively (Table 4).

Table 4
Frequency of thyme products consumption by the participants.

In a study done in North-East Lebanon, thyme herbs were among the most consumed herbs with a frequency of 5 times per week (Jeambey et al., 2009Jeambey, Z., Johns, T., Talhouk, S., & Batal, M. (2009). Perceived health and medicinal properties of six species of wild edible plants in north-east Lebanon. Public Health Nutrition, 12(10), 1902-1911. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980009004832. PMid:19232151.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980009004...
). In United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, a culture-specific FFQ showed that cereals were an important food category with a frequency of consumption of 4.8 times and 5.3 times per day, respectively. Our study findings list several cereal-based products such as thyme pie, cheese and thyme pie, crackers, pizza and pasta, as being the most frequently consumed, making them an important category in Lebanese and Arab populations’ diet.

On the international level, thyme and oregano are typically used in worldwide cuisines due to their popularity. Oregano was the most consumed herb in Austria with a frequency of 63%, while the thyme was the second most consumed herb in Ireland (47.8%) (Szűcs et al., 2018Szűcs, V., Szabó, E., Lakner, Z., & Székács, A. (2018). National seasoning practices and factors affecting the herb and spice consumption habits in Europe. Food Control, 83, 147-156. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.2017.04.039.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodcont.201...
).

3.3 Quantity of thyme products intake

Percentage of consumers, mean consumption values, and thyme contribution for each of the 14 thyme products during routine and increased consumption are shown in Table 5. The majority of the participants (85.3%) consumed thyme pie, followed by thyme regular mix sandwich (66.2%), while tea thyme had the lowest percentage of consumption (17.9%). Thyme pie had the highest mean intake (72.5 g/day) and represented the highest thyme contribution (10.4 g/day) among all thyme products, while crackers with thyme had the lowest mean intake (3.7 g/day) and the lowest thyme contribution (0.2 g/day) (Table 5).

Table 5
Percentage of consumers, mean consumption values (g/day) and thyme contribution (g/day) for each thyme product during routine and increased consumption.

Thyme pie is a traditional Lebanese product that many people would have for breakfast. It is also a perfect appetizer when served in small sized dough. The high consumption observed can be related to its affordable price and availability on the go in all Lebanese bakeries. On another note, tea thyme was the least consumed due to the popularity of other types of herbal teas such as green and black tea.

Several factors changed and increased significantly the mean consumption of all thyme products except pizza and pasta with thyme sauces (Table 5). Such factors were cultivation season (12.3%), lent meals (10.5%), school snacks (3.6%), picnic meals (1.2%), weight loss diet (5.1%) and sickness remedies (2.0%). This is in line with study findings in North-East Lebanon, where thyme herbs were among the mostly consumed in the winter season as compared to other seasons (Jeambey et al., 2009Jeambey, Z., Johns, T., Talhouk, S., & Batal, M. (2009). Perceived health and medicinal properties of six species of wild edible plants in north-east Lebanon. Public Health Nutrition, 12(10), 1902-1911. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980009004832. PMid:19232151.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980009004...
). Sickness factor can also increase the consumption of herbal teas for medicinal purposes to treat flu and intestinal discomfort for example (Sõukand et al., 2013Sõukand, R., Quave, C. L., Pieroni, A., Pardo-de-Santayana, M., Tardío, J., Kalle, R., Łuczaj, Ł., Svanberg, I., Kolosova, V., Aceituno-Mata, L., Menendez-Baceta, G., Kołodziejska-Degórska, I., Pirożnikow, E., Petkevičius, R., Hajdari, A., & Mustafa, B. (2013). Plants used for making recreational tea in Europe: a review based on specific research sites. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 9(1), 58. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1746-4269-9-58. PMid:23941692.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1746-4269-9-58...
).

3.4 Number of thyme products consumed

Eight point seven % to 13.6% of the participants consumed 3 to 7 thyme products, followed by 7.0 to 9.6% who consumed 8 to 9 thyme products. The lowest consumption percentages of 0 to 3 thyme products were almost similar to that of 10 to 14 thyme items, which ranged between 0.5 to 5.3% (Figure 1).

Figure 1
Number of thyme products consumed by the participants (n = 1555).

Lebanese population consumed thyme products in its different forms since thyme can be used in different ways and forms. A study done by Jeambey et al. (2009)Jeambey, Z., Johns, T., Talhouk, S., & Batal, M. (2009). Perceived health and medicinal properties of six species of wild edible plants in north-east Lebanon. Public Health Nutrition, 12(10), 1902-1911. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980009004832. PMid:19232151.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980009004...
, reported that participants had an increased consumption of several herbs, including thyme, since it could be used either fresh such as in salads, or when it is ground and mixed with sesame seeds, sumac, salt and olive oil (Jeambey et al., 2009Jeambey, Z., Johns, T., Talhouk, S., & Batal, M. (2009). Perceived health and medicinal properties of six species of wild edible plants in north-east Lebanon. Public Health Nutrition, 12(10), 1902-1911. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980009004832. PMid:19232151.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1368980009004...
).

3.5 Age and gender

Mean consumption values by age and gender are shown in Table 6. Consumption of thyme pie, fresh thyme salad, thyme regular mix sandwich, crackers with thyme and traditional molded aged cheese with thyme/ traditional strained yogurt balls with thyme (TCY) significantly differed between age groups (p = < 0.05). The highest consumption among participants aged more than 60 years old was for fresh thyme salad (106.6 g/day), thyme regular mix sandwich (21.7 g/day), and TCY (27.0 g/day). The lowest consumption was for those aged between 18-24 years old for fresh thyme salad (47.7 g/day) and thyme regular mix sandwich (12.7 g/day), whereas, group aged between 35 and 44 years represented the lowest consumption for TCY (14.5 g/day) (Table 6). Opposite trend was observed for crackers with thyme where the highest consumption was among the participants aged 18-24 years (4.4 g/day) and the lowest consumption among participants aged more than 60 years (2.5 g/day). On the other hand, participants aged between 35 and 44 years had the highest mean consumption of thyme pie (89.5 g/day), whereas, the lowest consumption of thyme pie was among participants aged between 18-24 years (64.3 g/day) (Table 6).

Table 6
Mean consumption (g/day) of thyme products by different age groups and gender (n = 1523).

Our study showed that older persons consumed healthier thyme products (fresh thyme salad, thyme sandwiches) compared to the younger age groups (thyme pie, crackers). A healthy dietary pattern/food choice among old populations (45-54 years old) was similarly observed in a total diet study for the urban population living in Beirut, Lebanon (Nasreddine et al., 2006Nasreddine, L., Hwalla, N., Sibai, A., Hamzé, M., & Parent-Massin, D. (2006). Food consumption patterns in an adult urban population in Beirut, Lebanon. Public Health Nutrition, 9(2), 194-203. http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/PHN2005855. PMid:16571173.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/PHN2005855...
). Also, a high consumption of herbs and spices was observed among persons aged between 50 and 60 years in Poland since they could this way substitute table salt and consequently regulate blood pressure (Assimiti, 2020Assimiti, D. (2020). Culinary herbs and spices in nutrition and health – the role of nutrition education in creating healthy dietary patterns. Current Developments in Nutrition, 4(Suppl. 2, 1288. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzaa059_005.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzaa059_00...
; Gajewska et al., 2020Gajewska, D., Kęszycka, P. K., Sandzewicz, M., Kozłowski, P., & Myszkowska-Ryciak, J. (2020). Intake of dietary salicylates from herbs and spices among adult Polish omnivores and vegans. Nutrients, 12(9), 2727. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu12092727. PMid:32900002.
http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu12092727...
). Furthermore, a fast-food/dessert dietary pattern was mainly observed among young age groups in Lebanon similar to our findings (Naja et al., 2013Naja, F., Nasreddine, L., Itani, L., Adra, N., Sibai, A. M., & Hwalla, N. (2013). Association between dietary patterns and the risk of metabolic syndrome among Lebanese adults. European Journal of Nutrition, 52(1), 97-105. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00394-011-0291-3. PMid:22193708.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00394-011-029...
).

Consumption of thyme pie, cheese and thyme pie, thyme regular mix sandwich, thyme mix with nuts sandwich, pizza and pasta with thyme, thyme croissant significantly differed between gender groups (p < 0.05) with a higher consumption among male participants (Table 7). This significant difference was related to larger portion sizes and quantities consumed among males as compared to females. In addition, the listed thyme products belong to high caloric groups yielding between 450 and 750 kcal per portion size (Mahan & Raymond, 2017Mahan, L. K., & Raymond, J. L. (2017). Krause’s food & the nutrition care process. Saint Louis: Missouri.). This can be related to the higher focus of women on the caloric value of food, weight loss and healthy eating, as compared to males (Crane et al., 2017Crane, M. M., Jeffery, R. W., & Sherwood, N. E. (2017). Exploring gender differences in a randomized trial of weight loss maintenance. American Journal of Men’s Health, 11(2), 369-375. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1557988316681221. PMid:27923968.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/15579883166812...
; Bärebring et al., 2020Bärebring, L., Palmqvist, M., Winkvist, A., & Augustin, H. (2020). Gender differences in perceived food healthiness and food avoidance in a Swedish population-based survey: a cross sectional study. Nutrition Journal, 19(1), 140. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12937-020-00659-0. PMid:33375947.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12937-020-006...
; Overcash & Reicks, 2021Overcash, F., & Reicks, M. (2021). Diet quality and eating practices among Hispanic/Latino men and women: NHANES 2011-2016. IJERPH, 18(3), 1302. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18031302. PMid:33535565.
http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18031302...
). Similar results were reported by Nasreddine et al. (2006)Nasreddine, L., Hwalla, N., Sibai, A., Hamzé, M., & Parent-Massin, D. (2006). Food consumption patterns in an adult urban population in Beirut, Lebanon. Public Health Nutrition, 9(2), 194-203. http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/PHN2005855. PMid:16571173.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/PHN2005855...
, who found that males in Lebanon reported higher mean energy intake than females. Also in Lebanon, another study conducted by Yahia et al. (2008)Yahia, N., Achkar, A., Abdallah, A., & Rizk, S. (2008). Eating habits and obesity among Lebanese university students. Nutrition Journal, 7(1), 32. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-7-32. PMid:18973661.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-7-32...
reported that being overweight is more common among males than in females (37.5 vs. 13.6%, respectively). On the other hand, Dehghan et al. (2005)Dehghan, M., Hamad, N., Yusufali, A., Nusrath, F., Yusuf, S., & Merchant, A. T. (2005). Development of a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire for use in United Arab Emirates and Kuwait based on local foods. Nutrition Journal, 4(1), 18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-4-18. PMid:15921524.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-4-18...
reported that females in UAE had higher BMI values than males highlighting the different dietary patterns among countries.

Table 7
Mean consumption (g/day) of thyme products by area of residence for consumers (n = 1523).

3.6 Geographical location

Consumption of thyme pie (56.1 g/day), cheese and thyme pie (43.4 g/day), thyme mix with nuts sandwich (7.4 g/day), pizza and pasta with thyme sauces (23.4 g/day), thyme croissant (6.9 g/day), toast/bread with thyme (5.5 g/day), homemade or catering recipes with thyme (40.4 g/day), tea thyme (38.2 g/day) significantly differed between areas of residence with the lowest consumption among participants located in Mount Lebanon. Thyme pie (108.5 g/day), cheese and thyme pie (76.4 g/day), thyme croissant (16.6 g/day) and toast/bread with thyme (12.1 g/day) had the highest consumption among participants living in South. In addition, homemade or catering recipes with thyme (163.5 g/day) and tea thyme (104.0 g/day) had the highest consumption among participants living in North, while thyme mix with nuts sandwich (26.4 g/day) had the highest consumption among participants living in Bekaa and pizza/pasta sauces with thyme (34.9 g/day) among participants living in Beirut (Table 7).

In addition, the consumption of thyme regular mix sandwich, and traditional molded aged cheese with thyme/traditional strained yogurt balls with thyme significantly differed between areas of residence (p < 0.05); with the lowest consumption among participants located in Beirut (11.4 g/day, and 15.7 g/day, respectively) and the highest consumption was among participants living in North and Bekaa (23.6 g/day, and 33.0 g/day, respectively). Furthermore, sesame thick bread with thyme had the highest consumption among participants living in Beirut (25.2 g/day) and the lowest consumption in Bekaa (9.7 g/day). Finally, fresh thyme herbs had the highest consumption in Bekaa (103.3 g/day) and the lowest in North (55.7 g/day) (Table 7). The observed differences in dietary habits between different areas were similarly reported by Anzid et al. (2009)Anzid, K., Elhamdani, F. Z., Baali, A., Boëtsch, G., Levy-Desroches, S., Lôpez, P. M., & Cherkaoui, M. (2009). The effect of socio-economic status and area of residence on household food variety in Morocco. Annals of Human Biology, 36(6), 727-749. http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/03014460903099996. PMid:19852674.
http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/03014460903099...
. Also, it was reported that different areas represented multiple variations in food preparation recipes (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2007Food and Agriculture Organization – FAO. 2007. Nutrion country profile: Lebanese Republic. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/aq041e/aq041e.pdf
http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/aq041e/aq0...
).

Consumption of thyme pie, fresh thyme salad, thyme mix with nuts sandwich, pizza and pasta with thyme, bread sticks with thyme and homemade/catering recipes with thyme significantly differed between areas of residence (p < 0.05) with a higher consumption among participants living in rural than urban areas (Table 7).

The lower consumption of several traditional thyme products in urban areas can be due to the wider availability of food channels that offer a variety of food choices over the classic ones (Kosaka et al., 2018Kosaka, S., Suda, K., Gunawan, B., Raksanagara, A., Watanabe, C., & Umezaki, M. (2018). Urban-rural difference in the determinants of dietary and energy intake patterns: a case study in West Java, Indonesia. PLoS One, 13(5), e0197626. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0197626. PMid:29768478.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0...
). Similar results were reported by a report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (2007)Food and Agriculture Organization – FAO. 2007. Nutrion country profile: Lebanese Republic. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/aq041e/aq041e.pdf
http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/aq041e/aq0...
in Lebanon, which found that participants living in urban areas replaced traditional dishes by a westernized diet consisting of fast foods and ready to eat meals.

In Iran, a semi-quantitative FFQ showed that urban women had significantly higher score for western pattern than rural areas (Rezazadeh et al., 2017Rezazadeh, A., Hassanpour, R., & Rashidkhani, B. (2017). Major dietary patterns of women living in urban and rural areas of Dashtestan county (Bushehr province). Iranian South Medical Journal, 23(2), 129-142.). In Morocco, a high consumption of spices, condiments and herbal teas was observed among participants living in rural areas due to its traditional value and meaning.

3.7 Socio-economic status (educational levels and household incomes)

Mean consumption values among consumers with different educational levels and monthly household incomes are shown in Tables 8 and 9.

Table 8
Mean consumption (g/day) of thyme products by consumers with different educational levels (n = 1523).
Table 9
Mean consumption of thyme products by consumers with different household incomes ($) (n = 1523).

Consumption of thyme pie, cheese and thyme pie, fresh thyme salad, thyme regular mix sandwich, sesame thick bread with thyme, and thyme croissant significantly differed between different educational levels (p < 0.05) with the highest consumption among participants of elementary level (104.8 g/day, 89.4 g/day, 89.9 g/day, 22.4 g/day, 19.3 g/day, 12.9 g/day, respectively). The lowest consumption was among postgraduate participants for thyme pie (54.8 g/day), cheese and thyme pie (28.6 g/day), thyme croissant (6.5 g/day) and among participants with technical background for fresh thyme salad and sesame thick bread with thyme (10.7 g/day). As for homemade or catering recipes with thyme, the highest consumption was among participants of postgraduate level (81.3 g/day) and the lowest among participants with elementary level (50.7 g/day) (Table 8).

Consumption of thyme pie, cheese and thyme pie, fresh thyme salad, thyme mix with nuts and seeds sandwich, sesame bread sticks with thyme, thyme croissant, tea thyme significantly differed between participants of different household incomes (p < 0.05) with a higher consumption among participants that earned < 1000$ per month (90.1 g/day, 43.4 g/day, 53.5 g/day, 14.4 g/day, 9.3 g/day, 7.9 g/day, 13.4 g/day) as compared to those with higher incomes (Table 10). As for crackers with thyme, participants who earned more than 1000$ per month consumed higher mean intakes (1.2 g/day).

Table 10
Characteristics of children participants, % of consumers and mean consumption (g/day) of thyme products (n = 143).

Table 9 Mean consumption of thyme products by consumers with different household incomes ($) (n = 1523).

Participants with low socio-economic status had higher mean intake for several thyme products than the ones with higher status because thyme is considered a traditional food item, available at affordable/cheap prices and has a long shelf life when it is in its dry form (United Nations Development Programme, 2018United Nations Development Programme – UNDP. (2018). Zaatar in Lebanon. Retrieved from https://www.undp.org/lebanon/publications/zaatar-lebanon-value-chain-assessment-and-analysis
https://www.undp.org/lebanon/publication...
). In addition, those participants were less selective for the healthy version of some thyme products and consumed more ready-to-eat or junk items (such as pies, croissant, and thick bread). Similar results were reported by Naja et al. (2013)Naja, F., Nasreddine, L., Itani, L., Adra, N., Sibai, A. M., & Hwalla, N. (2013). Association between dietary patterns and the risk of metabolic syndrome among Lebanese adults. European Journal of Nutrition, 52(1), 97-105. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00394-011-0291-3. PMid:22193708.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00394-011-029...
in Lebanon, who found that eating habits are related to the socioeconomic status of individuals since their food choices are based on financial constraints and obstacles. In Europe, a study done by Biesbroek et al. (2018)Biesbroek, S., Kneepkens, M. C., van den Berg, S. W., Fransen, H. P., Beulens, J. W., Peeters, P. H. M., & Boer, J. M. A. (2018). Dietary patterns within educational groups and their association with CHD and stroke in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Netherlands cohort. British Journal of Nutrition, 119(8), 949-956. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114518000569. PMid:29644959.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114518000...
showed that people with low socioeconomic status had a high mean score to consume a traditional diet, while participants with high socio-economic status tend to have high mean scores for prudent diet (includes fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, low fat dairies). In the US, a study done by Kell et al. (2015)Kell, K. P., Judd, S. E., Pearson, K. E., Shikany, J. M., & Fernández, J. R. (2015). Associations between socio-economic status and dietary patterns in US black and white adults. British Journal of Nutrition, 113(11), 1792-1799. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114515000938. PMid:25869232.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114515000...
showed that people with low socioeconomic status had limited food item choices due to purchasing difficulties (Kell et al., 2015Kell, K. P., Judd, S. E., Pearson, K. E., Shikany, J. M., & Fernández, J. R. (2015). Associations between socio-economic status and dietary patterns in US black and white adults. British Journal of Nutrition, 113(11), 1792-1799. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114515000938. PMid:25869232.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114515000...
).

3.8 Children consumption

Interviewed parents provided information about thyme products consumption of 143 children (less than 18 years old) with an average age of 8 years old and average weight of 33 kg (Table 10).

Thyme pie was the most consumed (80.4%, n = 115) and tea thyme was the least consumed product (8.4%, n = 12). Cheese and thyme pie had the highest mean consumption value of 85.2 g/day with thyme contribution of 4.8g/day, followed by thyme pie (77.6 g/day) that had the highest thyme contribution of 11.1 g/day. Whereas crackers with thyme represented the lowest mean consumption (2.8 g/day), as well as the lowest thyme contribution (0.2 g/day). Our results showed that children had similar trend in consumption as their parents with higher amount of cheese and thyme pie intake. Similarly, local cheese was the most consumed food item among children and adolescents in South America (Saravia et al., 2018Saravia, L., González-Zapata, L. I., Rendo-Urteaga, T., Ramos, J., Collese, T. S., Bove, I., Delgado, C., Tello, F., Iglesia, I., Gonçalves Sousa, E. D., Moraes, A. C. F., Carvalho, H. B., & Moreno, L. A. (2018). Development of a food frequency questionnaire for assessing dietary intake in children and adolescents in South America. Obesity, 26(Suppl. 1), S31-S40. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/oby.22114. PMid:29464920.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/oby.22114...
). In addition, Lebanese consumers refer to thyme products as memory enhancing and they are embedded in our culture that school students consume thyme in order to perform better at school.

Several thyme products are convenient meals for schools (shelf-stable), afternoon snacks or even as a diner. Children choices are affected by their parents so it could be important that parents favor a healthy nutritional education for their children (Isacco et al., 2010Isacco, L., Lazaar, N., Ratel, S., Thivel, D., Aucouturier, J., Doré, E., Meyer, M., & Duché, P. (2010). The impact of eating habits on anthropometric characteristics in French primary school children. Child: Care, Health and Development, 36(6), 835-842. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2214.2010.01113.x. PMid:20645994.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2214.20...
). Moreover, In New Zealand, a cross-sectional survey showed that children were influenced by the diet of their parents especially those aged between 9 and 12 years since they consumed most of their meals at home (Davison et al., 2017Davison, B., Saeedi, P., Black, K., Harrex, H., Haszard, J., Meredith-Jones, K., Quigg, R., Skeaff, S., Stoner, L., Wong, J. E., & Skidmore, P. (2017). The association between parent diet quality and child dietary patterns in nine- to eleven-year-old children from Dunedin, New Zealand. Nutrients, 9(5), 483. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu9050483. PMid:28492490.
http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu9050483...
). In Europe, children’s dietary patterns were in alliance with their mothers unrestrained by the meals prepared by her (Hebestreit et al., 2017Hebestreit, A., Intemann, T., Siani, A., Henauw, S., Eiben, G., Kourides, Y., Kovacs, E., Moreno, L., Veidebaum, T., Krogh, V., Pala, V., Bogl, L. H., Hunsberger, M., Börnhorst, C., & Pigeot, I. (2017). Dietary patterns of European children and their parents in association with family food environment: results from the I.Family study. Nutrients, 9(2), 126. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu9020126. PMid:28208650.
http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/nu9020126...
). Moreover, mothers with high educational level can positively affect a healthy dietary pattern for their children, while children of mothers with low educational level tend to consume high sugary and fat snacks (Smithers et al., 2012Smithers, L. G., Brazionis, L., Golley, R. K., Mittinty, M. N., Northstone, K., Emmett, P., McNaughton, S. A., Campbell, K. J., & Lynch, J. W. (2012). Associations between dietary patterns at 6 and 15 months of age and sociodemographic factors. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 66(6), 658-666. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2011.219. PMid:22234044.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2011.219...
). Despite the relatively lower amount of data collected about children, the observed trend is worth further investigation and analysis in future studies.

4 Conclusion

Thyme is a famous worldwide commodity added to several dishes as main ingredient or as flavor enhancer. This study showed that almost all the participants in Lebanon consumed thyme products with the highest mean intake for thyme pie and the least mean intake for crackers with thyme. Also, this study permitted to assess the variation in consumption patterns of thyme products between different socio-demographic, economic factors, age and gender. The use of FFQ can be a useful approach for estimating thyme products intake, since it is based on assessing both the quantity and frequency of thyme products consumption. This approach is needed for investigating dietary intake of thyme products and health outcomes relationships, such as estimating the risk assessment of chemicals and food contaminants that could be consumed through thyme products. For future studies, the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and the current economic crisis in Lebanon on the consumption patterns is worth investigating. In addition, it would be interesting to compare consumption patterns in different countries and use dietary records and recalls as reference methods to validate this questionnaire.

  • Practical Application: Our study can be a useful approach for estimating thyme products intake, since it is based on assessing both the quantity and frequency of thyme products consumption. This is needed for investigating dietary intake of thyme products and health outcomes relationships, such as estimating the risk assessment of chemicals and food contaminants that could be consumed through thyme products.
  • Funding

    This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    02 Sept 2022
  • Date of issue
    2022

History

  • Received
    01 June 2022
  • Accepted
    27 July 2022
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