Universidad Estadual, Paulista scientists are making a potentially game-changing claim: they say rats fed an important component of citrus fruits showed decreased liver damage over time.
Rats fed a comparatively high-fat diet showed, by contrast, increased liver damage.
But perhaps most interestingly, neither group lost significant weight during the study, showing the potential for the active compound studied to help aid in NAFLD repair even in the absence of weight loss.
The Fruit Compound That Made the Difference
The critical compound – flavonones – may have played a role in increasing liver health in the first group, the researchers said.
Fifty rats split into two groups were studied.
In addition to better liver health, the flavonone-supplemented group experienced a better blood lipids panel and healthier blood glucose levels.
Rats, Yes. But How About Humans?
Though the research is preliminary, it could potentially have a role in helping humans to reach better health, the researchers said.
In particular, “In the future we can use citrus flavanone to prevent or delay chronic diseases caused by obesity in humans,” said Paula S. Ferreira, co-author of the study and a graduate student at the Universidad Estadual Paulista.
Relating rodent or other animal studies to humans isn’t without its potential pitfalls, but the initial results look promising.
Ferreira added, “This study also suggests that consuming citrus fruits probably could have beneficial effects for people who are not obese, but have diets rich in fats, putting them at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and abdominal obesity.”
Flavonones are part of the class of flavonoids, phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients) which have been shown to have a link to various types of bodily health, including disease prevention.
Flavonones are usually found in citrus fruits, but are also present in mint, parsley, celery and peppers.
Where to Get Them
Ready to amp up your citrus? Here are some great sources:
- Most citrus fruits – but generally, the darker the color, the higher the flavonoid (and depending upon the fruit, flavonone) percentage
- Celery and parsley
Include these fruits and vegetables in as non-processed ways as possible in your diet.
A note of caution to those on a weight-loss program,: fruit calories and carbs can add up fast. Though the above choices are very healthy for most people, do count the calories, carbs and sugars in what you’re eating to make sure your fitness plan macros are balanced.
Make sure to ask your doctor about making the change, and if you monitor your blood glucose regularly, make records of how your glucose level changes in reaction to your new diet so you can ask your doctor her opinion.
Should You Lose Weight Anyway?
It sounds exciting to say the rats in the study didn’t need to lose weight in order to receive health benefits – especially considering the effort that can be involved in diet and appropriate exercise.
But a word of caution: an overweight condition could lead to any number of issues in the future. Most reputable physicians would recommend weight loss to those whose BMI exceeds the healthy category.
Looking to lose weight in conjunction with your NAFLD attack plan? Start here.