Orange peel extract may improve heart health

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Researchers led by the University of Florida have made an intriguing discovery that could turn ordinary orange peels into a powerful tool for combating heart disease.

Their findings, detailed in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, suggest that extracts from orange peels might play a key role in improving cardiovascular health.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death across various groups in the United States, as noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Part of the risk comes from certain gut bacteria that, during digestion, produce a compound known as trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO).

High levels of TMAO are linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, a connection that has been extensively studied by researchers, including those at the Cleveland Clinic.

The study at the University of Florida, led by Yu Wang, an associate professor of food science and human nutrition, focused on the potential of orange peel extracts. These extracts are rich in phytochemicals, beneficial compounds that plants produce.

Wang and her team specifically examined how these extracts could affect the production of TMAO and its precursor, trimethylamine (TMA).

During their experiments, Wang’s team used two different types of extracts from the orange peels: a polar fraction and a non-polar fraction.

Explaining their method, Wang likened it to the separation seen in salad dressing, where substances in water or vinegar represent the polar fraction, and those that separate like oil represent the non-polar fraction.

Their findings were promising. The non-polar fraction of the orange peel extract effectively reduced the production of harmful chemicals.

More impressively, they identified a compound in the polar fraction called feruloylputrescine. This compound significantly inhibits the enzyme responsible for producing TMA, thus potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.

This discovery is particularly significant given the volume of orange peels produced annually. With the U.S. producing about 5 million tons of orange peels each year, mostly as a byproduct of orange juice production, there’s a vast amount of this potentially beneficial material.

Currently, about half of these peels are used as cattle feed, while the rest largely goes to waste.

However, since the Food and Drug Administration considers natural orange peel extracts safe for human consumption, there is a huge potential to repurpose this “waste” into something valuable.

Wang envisions these orange peel extracts being used as dietary supplements or as ingredients in foods designed to enhance heart health.

This could lead to the development of functional foods enriched with these bioactive compounds, offering new dietary strategies for preventing cardiovascular diseases.

This research not only highlights the potential health benefits of commonly discarded natural products but also points towards sustainable practices in food production and waste management.

With further research and development, orange peels might soon be more than just a byproduct of juice; they could be a staple in our dietary arsenal against heart disease.

If you care about heart health, please read studies that vitamin K helps cut heart disease risk by a third, and a year of exercise reversed worrisome heart failure.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about supplements that could help prevent heart disease, stroke, and results showing this food ingredient may strongly increase heart disease death risk.

The research findings can be found in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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