TORONTO - Canadian researchers have found that citrus fruits can prevent weight gain and help control Type-2 diabetes and increased risk of heart disease.
A flavonoid called naringenin found in citrus fruits helps the body burn extra fat to check weight gain. It also has insulin-like properties to check Type-2 diabetes, says a study by the University of Western Ontario.
Flavonoids, which are found in plants, promote antioxidant activity in the human body.
They work by genetically reprogramming the liver to burn up excess fat, rather than storing it, according to the study.
In their study, the university researchers fed one group of mice with a high-fat diet to induce the symptoms of metabolic syndrome. A second group was fed the exact same diet but treated with naringenin.
The researchers found that naringenin corrected the rise in triglyceride and cholesterol levels, prevented the development of insulin resistance and thus completely normalized glucose metabolism in mice.
“Furthermore, the marked obesity that develops in these mice was completely prevented by naringenin,” Murray Huff of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at the university said.
“What was unique about the study was that the effects were independent of caloric intake, meaning the mice ate exactly the same amount of food and the same amount of fat. There was no suppression of appetite or decreased food intake, which are often the basis of strategies to reduce weight gain and its metabolic consequences.”
He said: “We are examining the pharmacological properties of naringenin. The next step is to find out if naringenin prevents heart disease in animal models and to explore the feasibility of clinical trials to determine its safety and efficacy in humans.”
Huff said his team is also investigating whether naringenin can treat obesity and other metabolic problems. “These studies show naringenin, through its insulin-like properties, corrects many of the metabolic disturbances linked to insulin resistance and represents a promising therapeutic approach for metabolic syndrome.”
The study was published online this week in the journal Diabetes.