Peel Away High Cholesterol

Compounds in orange and tangerine peels lower lipid levels

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THURSDAY, May 20, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Compounds found in orange and tangerine peels may lower cholesterol more effectively than some prescription drugs and do so without causing side effects.

That's what new animal research by American and Canadian scientists suggests.

These compounds, called polymethoxylated flavones (PMFs), are similar to other plant pigments found in citrus fruits that may protect against heart disease, cancer and inflammation. It's believed this study is the first to show that PMFs may lower cholesterol.

Researchers gave food containing 1 percent PMFs to hamsters with high cholesterol. The hamsters' levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol was lowered by 32 percent to 40 percent.

"Our study has shown that PMFs have the most potent cholesterol-lowering effect of any other citrus fruit flavonoid," lead investigator Elzbieta Kurowska, vice president of research at KGK Synergize in Canada, said in a prepared statement.

"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," she said.

The study appears in the May 12 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about cholesterol.

SOURCE: American Chemical Society, news release, May 2004

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