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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2002;505:113-22.

Polyphenol antioxidants in citrus juices: in vitro and in vivo studies relevant to heart disease.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Scranton, PA 18510-4626, USA.


It is well known that eating fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. The question of what is/are the active ingredient(s) is still unresolved. The initial hypothesis was that the antioxidant vitamins were responsible. However, recently the polyphenols have been investigated since they have been found to have beneficial properties such as being strong antioxidants. We measured the polyphenol content of citrus juices by an oxidation-reduction colorimetric method (Folin) using catechin as the standard. The order was tangerine juice > grapefruit juice > orange juice. The antioxidant contribution of ascorbic acid was measured by the difference in Folin reactive content following removal by ascorbate oxidase. Ascorbate contributed 56 to 77% of the antioxidant content of orange juice, 46% of the single tangerine juice measured, and 66 to 77% of grapefruit juices. Polyphenol quality in the juices was analyzed by using the inhibition of lower density lipoprotein oxidation promoted by cupric ion, an in vitro model of heart disease. Quality decreased in the following order: orange juice > grapefruit juice > tangerinejuice. In orange juice polyphenols accounted for 84-85% of antioxidant quality. The pure polyphenol hesperidin, which is common in juices, ascorbic acid, and the citrus juices, were not able to bind with LDL+VLDL and protect it from oxidation. In a hamster model of atherosclerosis, the juices were able to significantly inhibit atherosclerosis and lowered cholesterol and triglycerides. Ascorbic acid alone in the dose provided by the juices was found to have the same effect on atherosclerosis. However, the polyphenols in the citrus.

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