Oranges and other citrus fruits are good for you – they contain plenty of vitamins and substances, such as antioxidants, that can help keep you healthy. Being obese increases the risk of developing heart disease, liver disease, and diabetes, most likely because of oxidative stress and inflammation, Ferreira says.
Previous studies linked citrus flavanones to lowering oxidative stress in vitro and in animal models. These 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. For one month, researchers gave groups 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 by 80 percent in the blood and 57 percent in the liver compared to mice on a standard diet. 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. Mice treated with hesperidin and eriodictyol had reduced fat accumulation and damage in the liver.
“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 adds, “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.” Next, the team will explore how best to administer these flavanones, whether in citrus juice, by consuming the fruit or developing a pill with these antioxidants.