Citrus Flavonoids and Obesity

Lemons, oranges, mandarins and other citrus fruits are rich in many nutrients. They are also packed with flavonoids, which have a whole range of beneficial properties – and they may be able to help the body lose weight.

Researchers at the Food Science and Human Nutrition Department at the University of Florida assessed existing evidence-based results with a view to finding natural ways to treat obesity.

Just what are flavonoids?

  • Flavonoids are the compounds in many plants that give them colour and taste;
  • There are many, and the chemical structure can vary;
  • More than 60 flavonoids have been identified in citrus fruits;
  • These include flavonones, flavones, and flavonols;
  • The most common in citrus fruits are flavonones.

Flavonoids show great antioxidant activity in many clinical trials, and when it comes to citrus fruits, the peels and seeds are especially rich in concentrated flavonoids. Flavonoid content is sometimes reduced by processing such as juicing, as well as storage conditions.

The Results

The researchers cited 23 separate clinical trial studies in drafting their paper, part of the university’s reference materials.

The findings they list include:

  • Citrus flavonoids may control calorie intake versus expenditure;
  • They may also help regulate lipid metabolism and adipose (fat) tissue;
  • Specific examples include a 2018 study titled “Intervention with citrus flavonoids reverses obesity and improves metabolic syndrome and atherosclerosis in obese mice”
  • Some studies show they may inhibit amylase* function, which can be used to target the hormones that control appetite;
  • Other studies show that some flavonoids may increase the activity of certain proteins, which in turns means your body burns more energy in the form of brown fat tissue;
  • Flavonoids may also slow down the process of breaking down carbs, and decrease glucose absorption.

*Amylase is the enzyme that helps you digest carbohydrates.

Using flavonoids represents a safe alternative to other treatments, with none of the associated side effects, the authors note.

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