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HESPERIDIN IN ORANGE JUICE IMPROVES
HYPERTENSION AND ARTERIAL FUNCTION
Polyphenols are chemical compounds that are found in most of the plant-based foods that we commonly eat. As I discuss in detail in my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, some polyphenolic compounds, such as green tea flavonoids, soy-based isoflavones, quercetin, curcumin, and resveratrol, among other polyphenols, may possess important cancer prevention properties. There is also abundant research data suggesting that diets rich in certain natural dietary polyphenols may be associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, as well.
Hesperidin, which is a flavonoid polyphenol, is found in a variety of plant-based foods, including oranges, orange juice, and other citrus fruits. A newly published prospective, randomized, blinded clinical research study, which appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, offers intriguing evidence that hesperidin may actually decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease in high-risk patients.
In this pilot study, 24 overweight (but otherwise healthy) men, ages 50 to 65 years, were subjected to 4-week intervals in each of three experimental groups. The first group was assigned to drink 500 ml (17 ounces) of orange juice per day. The second experimental group drank a “control drink” that appeared similar to orange juice, but which did not contain any actual orange juice. However, this “sham orange juice” was fortified with hesperidin. The third group was also assigned to drink the fake orange juice, and to which was added a supplement portrayed (to the study volunteers, and to the research nurses who administered the beverages to these research volunteers) as hesperidin, but which, in fact, was an inert placebo that contained no hesperidin or other polyphenols.
Physical examinations and blood tests were performed before and after the men rotated through each of these three experimental groups.
The findings of this small but high quality clinical research study were quite interesting. When compared to the control group that consumed the fake orange juice and fake hesperidin supplement, the men in the other two experimental groups experienced a significant reduction in their blood pressure measurements. Specifically, the diastolic blood pressure was significantly reduced, which suggests that these men experienced an improvement in the elasticity, or compliance, of their arteries, as a direct result of the hesperidin contained in both orange juice and in the non-juice beverage supplemented with hesperidin. This observation was again confirmed through additional testing that revealed improved vascular compliance associated with hesperidin intake. Moreover, this significant improvement in arterial compliance was observed only after the ingestion of hesperidin, and disappeared when these same men were retested after undergoing an overnight fast. (Improved arterial compliance is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and stroke.)
To summarize the findings of this study, hesperidin, when taken in the form of either orange juice or as a supplement, appeared to significantly improve arterial elasticity, and lower diastolic blood pressure, in middle-aged overweight men. While this brief study cannot prove that these observed and transient improvements in arterial compliance subsequently reduced the incidence of cardiovascular disease in these high-risk men, there is abundant data from other research studies linking improved arterial compliance with a reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease. A much larger version of this small pilot study should now be repeated, and the volunteers in this larger study need to be followed for a much longer duration of time, before we can say, with certainty, that hesperidin significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. That being said, the findings of this small but well-conducted, and elegant, randomized, controlled, prospective clinical research study are still quite compelling.
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Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity
Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author
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