July 20, 2009 -- An apple a day is said to keep the doctor away, but orange juice may be good at the job, too.
Hesperidin is a plant-based compound called a flavonoid. (Grapes, red wine, green and black teas, and chocolate also contain flavonoids.) A growing body of evidence suggests that flavonoids can improve the health of the delicate cells that line blood vessels. The way these cells work is referred to as "endothelial function." Problems with these cells can lead to the development of clogged arteries, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
For the study, 24 healthy men at risk for cardiovascular disease each drank either 500 milliliters of orange juice each day, a "dummy" drink that contained the same calories as orange juice, or a dummy drink fortified with 292 milligrams of hesperidin. A 500 milliliter glass of orange juice naturally contains 292 milligrams of hesperidin. Over the course of the study, every man drank every beverage for one month straight.
The researchers found that when the men drank the daily orange juice or the hesperidin-fortified drink, they had better endothelial function and lower diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of a blood pressure reading) than when they drank the non-hesperidin beverage. In addition, gene expression profiles (as related to cardiovascular disease development) were improved.
The findings are being presented this week at the American Heart Association’s Basic Cardiovascular Sciences Annual Conference in Las Vegas.