Monday, September 11, 2006

Mandarins: The New Super Food?

The mandarin is being hailed as the latest "super food" after two Japanese studies found that it may dramatically reduce the chance of getting liver cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

A team at the National Institute of Fruit Tree Science studying the health effects of carotenoids - the vitamin A compound that gives mandarins their orange colour - surveyed 1,073 people in the town of Mikkabi, in Shizuoka, who ate a large number of the citrus fruits.

They found chemical markers in the population's blood samples that were linked to a lower risk of liver disease, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and insulin resistance (a condition associated with diabetes).

A second study found that drinking mandarin juice appeared to cut the chance of developing liver cancer in patients with chronic viral hepatitis.

Researchers at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine studied 30 patients suffering from viral hepatitis for a year. Each had a daily drink containing carotenoids and mandarin juice.

After a year, no liver cancer was found in the group, compared to a rate of 8.9 per cent among a group of 45 patients with the same condition but who did not drink the juice.

The researchers admit more work is needed and plan to continue the study for five years.

Cathy Ross, cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said that the study provided further confirmation of the health-giving powers of all fruits: "The more types of fruit and vegetables you can include in your diet the better."

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