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What Are Flavanones?

Exploring the Therapeutic Potential of Flavanones

Flavanones are a fascinating subgroup of phytochemicals called flavonoids. These molecules, including hesperetin, eriodictyol, and naringenin, are found in various plant species and citrus fruits and have gained significant attention due to their therapeutic potential. Flavanones play a crucial role in helping plants protect themselves against external threats and attract beneficial insects for pollination. They are found in almost all parts of a plant, from the branches and stems to the flowers and fruits.

Colour and Occurrence

Unlike their flavonoid cousins, flavanones are colourless ketones and are not plant pigments. They occur primarily in citrus fruits but can also be found in artichokes, grapefruits, oranges, and other types of plants. These molecules are essential for the overall health and well-being of plants and play a vital role in their survival.

Supporting Research

Research on flavanones has uncovered a range of potential benefits for human health. These molecules have been linked to cognitive benefits, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, anticancer effects, and cardioprotective qualities.

Cognitive Benefits

Studies have shown that flavanones offer cognitive benefits for adults with cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative diseases. Research on flavonoid-rich orange juice found significant improvements in cognitive function in older adults who consumed high-flavanone orange juice for eight weeks.

Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant Effects

Flavanones, particularly hesperetin, act as antioxidants by neutralizing free radicals and reducing oxidative stress. These molecules help reduce inflammation by targeting enzymes that promote inflammatory responses in the body, showcasing their potential in combating various health conditions.

Anticancer Properties

Hesperetin, a flavanone found in citrus fruits, has shown promise in targeting tumour cells and inducing apoptosis. The flavanone may help prevent the spread of cancer by targeting specific cellular proteins, making it a potential candidate for anticancer therapy.

Cardioprotective Effects

Diets supplemented with hesperetin have been linked to improvements in cardiovascular health by regulating LDL cholesterol levels. By reducing LDL levels in the bloodstream, hesperetin may lower the risk of coronary heart diseases, highlighting its cardioprotective properties.

Safety Concerns

Flavanones are generally considered safe and are present in many common food items. They are a crucial component of dietary flavonoids and are consumed by various populations worldwide without significant side effects. Incorporating flavanones into one’s diet may offer a variety of health benefits and promote overall well-being.

Sources

[1] Samanta, A., Das, S. K., & Das, G. (2011). Roles of flavonoids in Plants. ResearchGate. Published. [Source]

[2] Kozlowska, A., & Szostak-Wegierek, S. (2014). Flavonoids–food sources and health benefits. PubMed. Published. [Source]

[3] Kean, R. J., Lamport, D. J., Dodd, G. F., Freeman, J. E., Williams, C. M., Ellis, J. A., Butler, L. T., & Spencer, J. P. (2015). Chronic consumption of flavanone-rich orange juice is associated with cognitive benefits: an 8-wk, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in healthy older adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 101(3), 506–514. [Source]

[4] Parhiz, H., Roohbakhsh, A., Soltani, F., Rezaee, R., & Iranshahi, M. (2014). Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of the Citrus Flavonoids Hesperidin and Hesperetin: An Updated Review of their Molecular Mechanisms and Experimental Models. Phytotherapy Research, 29(3), 323–331. [Source]

[5] Rotelli, A. (2003). Comparative study of flavonoids in experimental models of inflammation. Pharmacological Research, 48(6), 601–606. [Source]

[6] Roohbakhsh, A., Parhiz, H., Soltani, F., Rezaee, R., & Iranshahi, M. (2015). Molecular mechanisms behind the biological effects of hesperidin and hesperetin for the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Life Sciences, 124, 64–74. [Source]

[7] Bawazeer, N. A., Choudhry, H., Zamzami, M. A., Abdulaal, W. H., Middleton, B., & Moselhy, S. S. (2016). Role of hesperetin in LDL-receptor expression in hepatoma HepG2 cells. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 16(1). [Source]