A compound found in the peels of citrus fruit has the potential to lower cholesterol more effectively than some prescription drugs, and without side effects, according to a study by US and Canadian researchers. The joint study identified a class of compounds isolated from orange and tangerine peels that shows promise in animal studies as a potent, natural alternative for lowering LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), without the possible side effects, such as liver disease and muscle weakness, of conventional cholesterol-lowering drugs.
The compounds, called polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs), are similar to other plant pigments found in citrus fruits that have been increasingly linked to health benefits, including protection against cancer, heart disease and inflammation. The study is believed to be the first to show that PMFs can lower cholesterol, the researchers say.
“Our study has shown that PMFs have the most potent cholesterol-lowering effect of any other citrus flavonoid,” says Elzbieta Kurowska, PhD, lead investigator of the study. “We believe that PMFs have the potential to rival and even beat the cholesterol-lowering effect of some prescription drugs, without the risk of side effects.”
PMFs are found in a variety of citrus fruits. The most common citrus PMFs, tangeretin and nobiletin, are found in the peels of tangerines and oranges. They are also found in smaller amounts in the juices of these fruits.
American Chemical Society, May 11, 2004