So far we only knew that citrus fruits are a major source of Vitamin C, are anti-oxidant rich and fibrous, but a recent study states that they also help in battling obesity-linked diseases.
The researchers revealed this in Philadphia, U.S., at the 252nd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), after a trial on mice which were fed a western style diet high on fats. The main aim of researchers was to figure out how intake of citrus fruits can curb the negative impact of obesity in those rodents.
"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," Paula S. Ferreira, a graduate student accompanying the research team, said.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claimed that one-third of adults are obese in the U.S. It's a known fact that obesity makes people more prone to various diseases related to the heart and liver, and even makes the person insulin restrain, leading to diabetes.
Intake of high-fat diet results in the production of excessive reactive oxygen species, which is capable of damaging the body cells, Ferreira informed.
Antioxidants can help in combating the fat cells that lead to oxidative stress, but obese people have much bigger fat cells which can cause greater levels of reactive oxygen species. And that, in turn, can affect the body even more negatively.
The researchers were keen to know the impact of the class of antioxidants called flavanones present in citrus fruits on mice which weren't genetically modified and were fed fat-rich diet. The same experiment was previously conducted on animal models and cell culture dishes.
An experiment was conducted on 50 mice by a team at the Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) located in Brazil. These rodents were treated with flavanones discovered in oranges, lemons and limes. Three varieties of flavanones called eriodictyol, eriocitrin and hesperidin were focused on by the researchers. A month's time was spent on researching and observing these mice; they were either fed a standard diet, a fat-rich diet and a fat-rich diet with each of these flavanones given individually along with the food.
It was found that feeding these mice only the high-fat diet raised the levels of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), which are cell harming markers. The level raised to 57 percent in the liver and 80 percent in the blood when compared to the mice that had a standard diet.
In another trial, when these rodents consumed their meal along with eriodictyol, eriocitrin and hesperidin, the cell harming markers were observed to have depleted by 64 percent, 57 percent and 50 percent in the liver, respectively, in contrast to the mice not fed any flavanones.
The researchers found eriocitrin and eriodictyol deducted the TBARS levels by 48 percent and 47 percent. But when they were treated using eriodictyol and hesperidin, the liver damage and fat collection levels in them had lessened.
"Our studies did not show any weight loss due to the citrus flavanones," team lead Thais B. Cesar noted.
"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," Cesar added further.
The researchers pointed out that citrus fruits will definitely benefit people who intake fat-rich diet. Their next step will be researching on whether flavanoids are more effective in the form of fruit or juice.