The antioxidants found in oranges and citrus fruits have been found to protect obese mice from the harmful effects of a Western high-calorie diet.
Brazilian researchers believe that these antioxidants could prevent or delay chronic diseases that can develop due to obesity, such as type 2 diabetes.
The study team at Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) wanted to assess the health benefits of citrus fruits, which contain plenty of vitamins that can improve health.
Citrus fruits also contain flavanones, a class of antioxidants that have been shown to lower oxidative stress in animal studies. Previous research has also linked citrus fruits to improved heart health, blood pressure and lower ischemic stroke risk.
The researchers evaluated the effects of citrus flavanones on 50 mice that were treated with lemons, oranges and limes. Hesperidi, eriocitrin and eriodictyol were the flavanones assessed.
The groups of mice received either a high-fat diet, a standard diet, or a high-fat diet alongside one of the three flavanones for one month.
The mice that consumed hesperidi, eriocitrin and eriodictyol had significantly lower levels of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), which are markers of cell damage. Mice treated with hesperidin and eriodictyol also had reduced liver damage and fat accumulation.
But those that ate a high-fat diet without these flavanones had increased TBARS by 80 per cent in the blood and 57 per cent in the liver compared to mice on a standard diet.
Paula S. Ferreira, a graduate student with the research team, reports that consumption of a high-calorie, high-fat diet leads to fat accumulatio, and this build-up causes oxidative stress. Reactive oxygen species are produced which damage fat cells, and as fat cells become larger, the body’s ability to combat cell damage is limited.
“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,” Ferreira told the 252nd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
“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.”
While the antioxidants didn’t help the mice lose weight, they had lower oxidative stress, and Ferreira’s team now plans to investigating which form of consumption – be it through a pill or drink – could lead to the most effective results in mice, and humans.
Benedict Jephcote, Head of Education at, said: “Whilst a high-fat diet was used in this experiment, it is important to note that the problem of unhealthy Western diets is not limited to fat. There are a number of factors that can make a human diet unhealthy, including being high in sugar, high in refined carbohydrate, high in highly-processed fats and low in fibre, vitamins and minerals.
“The most reliable way to get vitamin C and enjoy a healthy diet is by eating meals that are rich in vegetables with a moderate amount of whole fruit.”

Get our free newsletters

Stay up to date with the latest news, research and breakthroughs.

You May Also Like

Conversation about doctors’ appointments occurring virtually rumbles on

More than half of GP appointments are still being delivered remotely in…

Coronavirus: UK instructed to stay at home this weekend

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that staying at home this weekend…

Twice daily dairy intakes could reduce type 2 diabetes risk

Eating cheese, yoghurt or eggs twice a day could help lower the…