The team at Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) in Brazil experimented on 50 mice for their research. They looked at how flavanones – hesperidin, eriocitrin, and eriodictyol – found in oranges, lemons, and limes, would affect mice who were fed high-fat diets. The mice were divided into a few different groups:
- A group fed a standard diet
- A group fed a high-fat diet
- A group fed a high-fat diet plus hesperidin
- A group fed a high-fat diet plus eriocitrin
- A group fed a high-fat diet plus eriodictyol
Ferreira says that overweight humans likely develop these chronic issues due to oxidative stress and inflammation. When someone has excess fat, the fat cells produce “excessive reactive oxygen species,” which can further damage cells in a process known as oxidative stress. The citrus flavanones may be able to lessen the oxidative stress and inflammation in humans, as has been observed with cells in test tubes and animal subjects.
“Compared with the standard diet, the high-fat non-flavanone diet raised levels of cell-damage markers – thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) – by 80 percent in the blood and 57 percent in the liver of the mice.
However, hesperidin, eriocitrin, and eriodictyol decreased levels of TBARS in the liver by 50 percent, 57 percent, and 64 percent, respectively, when compared with the high-fat non-flavanone diet. Mice treated with hesperidin and eriodictyol also had reduced fat accumulation and damage in the liver.
As with the results in the liver, eriocitrin and eriodictyol reduced TBARS levels in the blood by 48 percent and 47 percent, respectively, in mice on the high-fat non-flavanone diet.”
Thais B. Cesar, Ph.D., who led the team’s study, stated:
“Our studies did not show any weight loss due to the citrus flavanones. 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.”
Paula S. Ferreira, a graduate student with the research team, said:
“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.”
The team will move to the next phase of research, which is to determine the best way to deliver the flavanones. The research was presented at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).