|Tory Parker (Credit :Mark Philbrick)|
Scientists in Utah are taking the humble orange - that classic Christmas stocking filler and trying to find the right mixture of its healthy compounds responsible for their age-old health benefits.
The popular stocking stuffer is known for its vitamin C and blood-protecting antioxidants, but researchers wanted to learn why a whole orange is better for you than its components when taken separately. The ultimate outcome of the research could be a super-supplement that captures the best health benefits of eating oranges and drinking orange juice.
"There's something about an orange that's better than taking a vitamin C capsule, and that's really what we're trying to figure out," said Tory Parker, the Nutritionist that led the study. "We think it's the particular mixture of antioxidants in an orange that makes it so good for you."
The research, carried out at Brigham Young University has just been published in Journal of Food Science.
Parker noted supplement companies often mix "high concentrations of extracts from blueberry and blackberry and orange and throw them all together and hope it's good."
He wanted to avoid such assumptions by testing dozens of combinations of the antioxidants found in an orange at the same proportions they occur naturally.
They identified several combinations of antioxidants that were the most synergistic – the compounds hesperidin and naringenin, in particular, appeared to contribute the most punch in the combinations.
Those are the mixtures Parker will continue to research in human studies to evaluate whether their health effects mimic those of eating an orange. He and his students are also conducting similar work with blueberries and strawberries.
"I'm really most interested in protecting healthy people and keeping the healthy, healthy," Parker said. "And no matter what our research finds, it's very clear that a great way to do that is to simply eat more fruit."