Orange juice molecule may 'drastically' reduce obesity, arterial plaque

A compound found in oranges has been found to target obesity and reduce the risks of developing associated diseases, according to a new study. The researchers note that drinking enough orange juice every day may have a drastic impact on obesity as a result, even in cases where a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet is being consumed. The beneficial compound was also found to reduce the amount of plaque in arteries.

The beneficial compound found in oranges is called nobiletin; it is a flavonoid found in citrus fruit peels, some of which remain on the fruit after it is peeled. According to a new study out of the University of Western Ontario, this molecule offers a number of potential health benefits covering obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

It may take as little as two and a half glasses of orange juice daily to get enough of this molecule to 'reverse' obesity, according to the researchers, who note that it was also able to begin reversing plaque build-up in the arteries of mice. Rodents fed a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet were found to have lower insulin resistance and leaner bodies compared to mice given the same diet, but without nobiletin.

Though it's not entirely clear how this molecule produces these effects, the researchers explain that nobiletin may work by increasing the amount of energy created by burning fat and that it may block the 'manufacture of fats.' However, tests on mice that were genetically engineered to lack the related regulator behind these processes indicate that some other activity may be responsible.

Of course, a big question remains at the moment: does nobiletin have the same effect in humans as it does in mice? If future research demonstrates that it does, oranges — and more specifically, this particular molecule — may be a promising treatment to help reduce obesity, which has reached critical levels in some countries.