Charles Couillard is Professor at the Department of Food Science and Nutrition and researcher at the Institute of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods of Laval University. His research program is aimed at the description and better understanding of the metabolic effects of nutrition and more specifically dietary polyphenols, on the cardiometabolic risk profile including lipids, oxidative stress, inflammation and endothelial function.
Since his academic appointment in 2001, he has been awarded salary support from the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec and has secured operating grants from the Canadian Society of Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Lipoprotein Conference as well as industrial support from the Canadian Cranberry Growers Coalition and the McCormick Company. He is also implicated in collaborative work supported by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Speed Skating Canada. He has published more than 45 papers in peer-reviewed journals. Finally, Dr Couillard is a reviewer for numerous scientific journals and granting agencies. His contributions have also been recognized over the years through different distinctions as well as by an invitation to join the Editorial Board of the scientific journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
Among the contributions attributable to Dr. Couillard’s research team, short-term low-calorie cranberry juice cocktail (CJC) supplementation was found to be associated with reductions of plasma oxidized LDL (OxLDL) concentrations (Metabolism, 2005; Br J Nutr, 2008) in overweight men. These observations are in line with results from some of his other projects showing that a nutritional intervention promoting the Mediterranean food pattern decreases circulating OxLDL levels in healthy women (J Nutr, 2005). Interestingly, the increase in fruits and vegetables servings was found to explain this metabolic improvement, which is concordant with the health benefits associated to a higher dietary polyphenol intake.
Furthermore, CJC supplementation led to a significant increase in circulating HDL-C concentrations (Br J Nutr, 2006) in men an observation that could be partly explained by effects of polyphenolic compounds of cranberries on the cholesterol efflux from lipid-laden macrophages (unpublished observations). The impact of the consumption of CJC on endothelial function and activation and significant reductions in circulating adhesion molecule (Br J Nutr, 2008) and MMP-9 levels (J Am Coll Nutr, 2009) were noted. Moreover, a tendency for a positive effect of CJC supplementation on arterial stiffness in overweight men (unpublished observations) has been observed as well as an improving effect of a proprietary blend of polyphenols from cranberries and grape seeds on endothelial function in elite athletes that may be helpful in the recovery following an exercise bout (Int J Sport Nutr, 2010 – submitted).
In his most recent research with berries, Dr Couillard intends to better understand how polyphenols commonly found in berry fruits can impact adipose tissue metabolism which could be of importance in the establishment of new and innovative nutritional strategies to be used in obesity prevention and/or treatment.
2008 Peter Dolphin Memorial Junior Investigator Award, Canadian Lipoprotein Conference
2003 Prix des fondateurs Jean-Davignon et Paul Lupien, Québec Lipidology, Nutrition and Metabolism Society
2001 Young investigator award, Canadian Society of Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology