Citrus fruits could help combat side effects of obesity

citrus fruits

Citrus fruits can help offset and prevent some of the more harmful effects of obesity, according to a new study.

The research team from Sao Paulo State University in Brazil looked at the effects that fruits like oranges and lemons have on mice fed a Western-style, high-fat diet. 

High levels of flavanones

Obesity can increase the risk of developing heart disease, liver disease and diabetes.

But flavanones, a class of antioxidants found in high levels in citrus fruits, could help prevent or delay such chronic diseases, so claims Paula S. Ferreira, a graduate student with the research team.

Fat cells produce excessive reactive oxygen species that can damage cells in a process called oxidative stress.

The body usually fights off these molecules with antioxidants.

But obese patients’ enlarged fat cells can lead to even higher levels of reactive oxygen species, which sometimes overwhelm the body's ability to counteract them.

Flavanones have long been linked to lowering oxidative stress.

Effects on mice

The new study wanted to note the effect flavanones would have on mice that were fed a high-fat diet. The team treated the mice with flavanones found in oranges, limes and lemons.

For a month, researchers gave groups either a standard diet, high-fat diet, or high-fat diet plus different types of flavanones.

The high-fat diet without the flavanones increased the levels of cell-damage by 80% in the blood and 57% in the liver compared to mice on a standard diet.

But those on the flavanones saw cell damage decrease by up to 64% in the liver and 48% in the blood.

The study, however, didn’t point to any weight loss being achieved as a result of the increased citrus flavanones.

Lower oxidative stress, less liver damage, lower blood lipids and lower blood glucose were, however, all reported.

Ferreira claims that the results also suggest that citrus fruits could have beneficial effects for people who are not obese, but have diets rich in fats.


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