By Eric Rumsey and Janna Lawrence
As we’ve written, searching for food-related subjects in PubMed is difficult because of the way the MeSH system is organized. Plant-based foods are especially difficult because in most cases they are treated mainly as plants rather than food.
One result of treating plant-based foods as plants is that the MeSH term is usually the botanical plant name; in the case of chocolate it’s Cacao. This is usually not a serious problem when searching for specific substances because the common food name maps to the botanical MeSH term.
A more serious consequence of treating plant-based foods as plants instead of foods is that they are usually not in any food-related explosion, but only in the Plants explosion. So the only occurrence of chocolate (Cacao) is here:
Plants Angiosperms Sterculiaceae Cacao
The reason this is a problem is because articles on chocolate/Cacao will not be retrieved in a search for Food. So, for example, if you do a general search for food-related causes of migraine, you will not retrieve this article:
Chocolate is a migraine-provoking agent
This is not retrieved by searching for food because Cacao is not in the Food explosion. More broadly, however, it’s also not retrieved with the comprehensive Food-Diet-Nutrition hedge that we’ve discussed previously, which includes text-words as well MeSH terms and explosions.
Here are several other articles on health and medical aspects of chocolate that are not retrieved by our broad Food-Diet-Nutrition hedge:
- Chocolate consumption modulates cytokine production in healthy individuals.
- Protective effects of flavanol-rich dark chocolate on endothelial function and wave reflection during acute hyperglycemia.
- Chocolate and coronary heart disease: a systematic review.
Journal: Curr Atheroscler Rep.
- Supraventricular tachycardia induced by chocolate: is chocolate too sweet for the heart?
Journal: Am J Emerg Med.
- Chocolate consumption in pregnancy and reduced likelihood of preeclampsia.
If chocolate were the only case of a plant-based food that is not retrieved in a broad PubMed search for food-related topics, it would be a trivial matter. But that’s far from being the case. There are many plant-based foods that have the same problem in PubMed. We will be writing on several of these foods in the next few months, so keep an eye on this space!