More than 1.3 billion people worldwide suffer from hypertension, a leading factor in heart disease and mortality.
A growing body of scientific research shows that 100% orange juice, and its vitamins and minerals, may play a beneficial role in helping to lower blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease.
This week, a new randomized control study, performed by researchers at Eurecat, Centre Tecnològic de Catalunya, in Reus, Spain, funded by the Florida Department of Citrus and published in the European Journal of Nutrition concluded that 100% orange juice and 100% orange juice fortified with hesperidin (a flavonoid found almost exclusively in citrus), significantly reduced blood pressure in adults diagnosed with pre- or stage-1 hypertension.
A Significant Decrease in Systolic Blood Pressure
As part of the 12-week study, 159 adults ages 18 to 65, drank 500 mL (about 2 cups) daily of either 100% orange juice, 100% orange juice enriched with added hesperidin, or a control drink with the same calories, vitamin C and citric acid content of orange juice.
The intake of orange juice or hesperidin-enriched orange juice for 12 weeks resulted in significant decreases in systolic blood pressure at the end of the study compared to baseline and to the control drink.
The researchers measured systolic and diastolic blood pressure, pulse pressure (a measure of arterial stiffness), blood homocysteine and uric acid, as well as various inflammatory markers at the beginning, end, and throughout the course of the study.
Researchers also investigated the short-term effects of a single dose of orange juice on blood pressure and other outcomes.
Hesperidin’s Additional Heart Health Benefits
At the end of the study there was also a significant decrease in pulse pressure and the expression of two genes associated with blood pressure compared to baseline in the hesperidin-enriched orange juice group.
Greater changes were seen with enriched OJ suggesting a dose-response effect with hesperidin.
In this study, after 12 weeks blood homocysteine (a common biomarker of heart disease) significantly decreased in both orange juice groups compared to the control drink.
Additionally, uric acid (a biomarker correlated with hypertension and arterial stiffness) also decreased in the enriched orange juice group.
There was also a reduction in inflammatory biomarkers, suggesting that OJ and hesperidin may have beneficial effects on inflammation.
A limitation of the study is that participants had pre- or stage-1 hypertension, which limits the application of the results to the general population.
In addition to the potential heart health benefits, an 8-ounce serving of orange juice offers other nutritional benefits as it is an excellent source of vitamin C, a good source of potassium, folate, and thiamin, and can help contribute to total fruit intake.
For more information, visit FloridaCitrus.org/newsroom