HomeScience & TechOrange Peels: A Potential Heart Health Boost Hiding in Your Kitchen

Orange Peels: A Potential Heart Health Boost Hiding in Your Kitchen

Orange peels, often discarded as waste, might hold significant health benefits, according to a recent study by scientists at the University of Florida and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The study has discovered a novel bioactive compound in orange peels, called feruloylputrescine (FP), which shows promise in promoting heart health.

Feruloylputrescine, previously found in grapefruit leaves and juice, has now been identified in orange peels. This compound does not appear in other citrus fruits like limes, lemons, tangerines, or mandarins. FP has garnered attention for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may contribute to cardiovascular health.

Research Findings

In a six-week experiment, mice were fed a nutritious orange peel extract rich in FP. The results were promising: the mice showed reduced blood biomarkers linked to inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Even when consuming a high-fat diet, the FP-fed mice gained less fat compared to the control group.

Potential Health Benefits of Orange Peels

Yu Wang, a food scientist from the University of Florida, emphasizes the importance of this finding. “This is a novel finding that highlights the previously unrecognized health potential of feruloylputrescine in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease,” Wang said.

Orange peels, often discarded despite their edible nature, contain high concentrations of vitamins, antioxidants, and limonene—a chemical with potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Each year, 32 million tons of orange peels are wasted globally. In Florida, around half of the orange peels are fed to cattle, suggesting an untapped resource for human consumption.

Mechanisms Behind FP’s Health Benefits

FP appears to inhibit specific gut bacteria from producing trimethylamine (TMA), a byproduct of food digestion, particularly from meat and high-fat diets. When TMA enters the bloodstream and reaches the liver, it is metabolized into trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). TMAO is associated with increased risks of arterial plaque build-up, heart disease, stroke, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

In the Florida experiments, mice fed with orange peel extract containing FP exhibited reduced levels of TMA and TMAO. This indicates that FP might counteract the negative effects of these compounds, even while the gut bacteria continue their usual digestive processes.

While the benefits of FP in humans are still under investigation, the USDA has shown interest, funding further research with a $500,000 grant to explore how orange peel extract can enhance gut and heart health.

Incorporating orange rinds into daily diets might not be straightforward, but the potential health benefits warrant further exploration. If scientists can develop a palatable product using orange peel extract, it could become a popular addition to health-conscious kitchens worldwide.

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