New Citrus Supplement Busts Cholesterol And Sugar

A new dietary supplement being developed by Israeli and American researchers could change the way our bodies digest cholesterol and sugar.

Published: June 5th 2011
in News » Israel

The new citrus compound could cancel out the bad effects of eating a hamburger and chips, or other fast foods laced in sugar and fat.

Imagine an ice-cream sundae topped by a special chocolate sauce that will never let that blessed moment on your lips stay forever on your hips, or a pizza topping that you sprinkle over the cheese like oregano, made from a secret ingredient that will help your body break down all the fat, so that it won't clog your arteries.


These are some of the very real possibilities coming out of a Hebrew University-Harvard University team working on extracting naringenin, a compound from grapefruit, and using nanotechnology to make it into a complex absorbed 11 times better than normal. This may forever change the way our metabolisms deal with fatty and sugary food.


The research on this citrus extract is led by Dr. Yaakov Nahmias from the Benin School of Engineering and Computer Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Maria Shulman, his graduate student. They have isolated the molecule that creates the bitter taste in grapefruits, and have strong clinical evidence that if developed as a dietary supplement, it could change the way our bodies deal with fat and sugar.


The studies hold significant implications for the drug market, particularly in relation to diabetes, obesity, arteriosclerosis and even hepatitis C, Nahmias tells ISRAEL21c while bouncing his new baby on his knee.


Nahmias is a young researcher by Israeli standards at age 37, because all men must serve in the military for three years. But he raced through the necessary milestones to become a full-fledged scientific investigator, completing a degree at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, a doctorate in Minnesota and post-doctoral work at Harvard.


In his study reported in the scientific journal PLoS One, he explained how under regular conditions the absorption of the fat- and sugar-busting molecule naringenin is quite low. You'd have to ingest a lot of grapefruits for it to work -- probably more than you'd ever want to eat.


To improve absorption capabilities, the researchers applied new tools from nanotechnology, and engineered a form of naringenin that includes an extra ring of sugar attached to the molecule. It is this extra ring that improves the absorption of naringenin and turns its bitter taste to sweet.


Harvard University and Yissum, the technology transfer arm of the Hebrew University, have filed for patents. Clinical trials are now being carried out in the United States.


This article is reprinted with permission from Israel21c. To read the rest, click here.

Related articles: (Hebrew University, Harvard University, Diabetes, Obesity, )

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