Prof Dr R.P. Mensink

Ronald Mensink is member of the research group Physiology of Human Nutrition (PHuN group) at the Department of Nutrition and Movement Sciences.

His primary research interests are the relationships between nutritive and nonnutritive components in the diet with chronic metabolic stress, in particularly related to cardiovascular disease. For this, dietary intervention studies are carried out with human volunteers. Studies are designed not only to look at physiological and functional effects, but also to unravel the biochemical and molecular mechanisms underlying these effects. Knowledge obtained from studies under ‘normal’ conditions is applied to study and understand metabolic disturbances involved in etiology of cardiovascular disease. Using non-invasive (imaging) techniques, a strong focus is on components that affect peripheral vascular function and lipid metabolism. Whenever possible, other aspects of chronic metabolic stress (e.g. HDL-functionality, insulin-sensitivity, blood pressure) are studied, in collaboration with other researchers. In recent projects, cerebrovascular function as related to cognitive performance plays a central role. The ultimate aim of the studies is to provide evidence-based information supporting the development of foods, dietary guidelines or health claims.


Dr. Mensink has made key contributions to understand the effects of dietary fats on the serum lipoprotein profile, an established risk factor for cardiovascular disease. These series of studies clearly showed that not the total amount of fat, but the fatty-acid composition of the diet, determines cardiovascular risk. In particular the finding that trans fatty acids have a detrimental effect on the serum lipoprotein profile has led worldwide to a revision of dietary guidelines and a reformulation of industrial fats to keep the intake of trans fatty acids as low as possible.