You might think that tangerines are just a great treat but new research shows that they also have potent health effects for your heart. Researchers from The University of Western Ontario have discovered that a substance in tangerines not only helps to prevent obesity, but also protects against type 2 diabetes, and even atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of most heart attacks and strokes. According to the research published in the journal Diabetes, the secret ingredient is a flavonoid known as nobiletin.
To study the effects of nobiletin on metabolic syndrome in humans, researchers fed mice a “western” diet high in fats and simple sugars. One group of the mice became obese and showed all the signs associated with metabolic syndrome: elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood levels of insulin and glucose, and a fatty liver. These metabolic abnormalities greatly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The second group of mice was fed the exact same diet but researchers added nobiletin. Those mice experienced no elevation in their levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin or glucose, and gained weight normally. In addition, the mice became much more sensitive to the effects of insulin.
According to the researchers, nobiletin was shown to prevent the buildup of fat in the liver by stimulating the expression of genes involved in burning excess fat, and inhibiting the genes responsible for manufacturing fat.
“The nobiletin-treated mice were basically protected from obesity,” Murray Huff, a vascular biology scientist at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, and the Director of the Vascular Biology Research Group at Robarts. “And in longer-term studies, nobiletin also protected these animals from atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. This study really paves the way for future studies to see if this is a suitable treatment for metabolic syndrome and related conditions in people.”
Tangerines, also known as mandarin oranges, have unique health properties which distinguish them from other oranges or citrus fruit. One compound, tangeretin, is known for inhibiting the growth of leukemia. Both tangeretin and nobiletin have been found to fight breast cancer. Want to increase the nobiletin in your diet? Eat the tangerine but don’t forget the skin. The healthiest compounds in citrus fruit are in the rind and zest. Toss the minced rind or zest into marinades, salads and desserts.
I believe that eating a diet rich in flavonoids is key to good health. Eat your flavonoids and get started today with SmartforLife! -Dr. Sass