Citrus – GOOD for obesity? September 4, 2016

There hasn’t been much in the way of good news for orange recently with global demand declining amidst health warnings that too much natural sugar (fructose) is bad for us. Well thanks to another medical report those warnings may be heeded with the news that now oranges and other citrus fruits can help with the fight against obesity and indirectly diabetes.

A report released late August 2016 by a team of researchers at the Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) in Brazil conducted an experiment with 50 mice, treating them with flavanones found in oranges, limes and lemons. 

Citrus fruits are hoped they will help tackle obesity

The flavanones they focused on were hesperidin, eriocitrin and eriodictyol. For one month, researchers gave groups 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% in the blood and 57% in the liver compared to mice on a standard diet.

However, hesperidin, eriocitrin and eriodictyol decreased the TBARS levels in the liver by 50%, 57% and 64% 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% and 47%, respectively, in these mice.

“Our studies did not show any weight loss due to the citrus flavanones,” team leader Thais B. Cesar said.

“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.”

Ferreira said the study also suggested consuming citrus fruits ‘probably could have beneficial effects’ for people who are not obese, but have diets rich in fats.

The team’s next goal is to explore how best to administer these flavanones, whether in citrus juice, by consuming the fruit or developing a pill with these antioxidants. There are also plans to conduct studies involving humans.

This may be the good break the orange industry needs in fighting the bad publicity recently received but there is probably a long way to go before we see any net effects in the market. It should also be said that these studies were funded by one of the three major Brazilian orange producers who no doubt have a vested interest in promoting the health benefits of their product.