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Citrus Fruits Help Prevent Obesity-Related Heart Disease, Diabetes

Citrus Fruits Help Prevent Obesity-Related Heart Disease, Diabetes

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By    |   Monday, 22 August 2016 11:55 AM

Citrus fruits have been known for centuries to be good for you. In the 19th century, English sailors got the name "limeys" from the lemon or lime juice added to their daily rum rations during long voyages to prevent scurvy caused by a lack of vitamin C.


Citrus fruits, including oranges, lemons, and limes, contain many vitamins and other substances, in addition to vitamin C, that contribute to health. Now a group of researchers have found that they also help prevent the harmful effects of a high-fat, Western-style diet.

"Our results indicate that in the future we can use citrus flavanones, a class of antioxidants, to prevent or delay chronic diseases caused by obesity in humans," says Paula S. Ferreira, a graduate student with the research team at São Paulo State University in Brazil.

Citrus fruits contain large amounts of antioxidants, a class of which is a type of flavonoid called flavanones. Previous lab and animal studies linked citrus flavanones to lowering oxidative stress, which experts believe causes inflammation that leads to disease.


The researchers wanted to observe the effects of citrus flavanones for the first time on mice with no genetic modifications and that were fed a high-fat diet.


They conducted an experiment with 50 mice, treating them with flavanones found in oranges, limes and lemons. The flavanones they focused on were hesperidin, eriocitrin and eriodictyol.


For one month, researchers gave the mice either a standard diet, a high-fat diet, a high-fat diet plus hesperidin, a high-fat diet plus eriocitrin, or a high-fat diet plus eriodictyol.


The high-fat diet without the flavanones increased the levels of cell-damage markers called thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) by 80 percent in the blood and 57 percent in the liver compared to mice on a standard diet. But hesperidin, eriocitrin and eriodictyol decreased the TBARS levels in the liver by 50 percent, 57 percent and 64 percent, respectively, compared with mice fed a high-fat diet but not given flavanones.


Eriocitrin and eriodictyol also reduced TBARS levels in the blood by 48 percent and 47 percent, respectively, in these mice. In addition, mice treated with hesperidin and eriodictyol had reduced fat accumulation and damage in the liver.


"Our studies did not show any weight loss due to the citrus flavanones," said team leader Thais B. Cesar, Ph.D. "However, even without helping the mice lose weight, they made them healthier with lower oxidative stress, less liver damage, lower blood lipids and lower blood glucose.


"This study also suggests that consuming citrus fruits probably could have beneficial effects for people who are not obese, but have diets rich in fats, putting them at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and abdominal obesity," she added.


Cesar said the researchers will next explore the best way to dispense the flavanones, whether in citrus juice, by eating the fruit, or whether by developing a pill containing the antioxidants. They also plan to conduct tests on humans.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of all American adults are obese. Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and liver disease, due to oxidative stress and inflammation.


When humans eat a high-fat diet, they accumulate fat in their bodies, and the fat cells produce substances which can damage cells — a process called oxidative stress — in such large amounts that the body can't neutralize them.


Previous studies found that diets rich in antioxidants lowered TBARS in the blood. One study, published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that edible bird's nest (EBN), supplement, which is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, reduced inflammatory and oxidative stress markers more than the prescription drug simvastatin used to treat high cholesterol levels.

 

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Citrus fruits have been known for centuries to be good for you. In the 19th century, English sailors got the name limeys from the lemon or lime juice added to their daily rum rations during long voyages to prevent scurvy caused by a lack of vitamin C. Citrus fruits,...
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Monday, 22 August 2016 11:55 AM
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