Tangerines are a tonic for your heart

London: It`s often said that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Now, scientists say the same is true even for tangerines which have properties that keep several diseases at bay.

Researchers from the University of Western Ontario in Canada found that eating the citrus fruit regularly could protect against heart attacks, diabetes and stroke as well as it helps stave off obesity.

According to them, tangerine`s peel has a pigment, called Nobiletin, which is ten times more potent than a similar one derived from grapefruit, the Daily Mail reported.

For the study, the researchers fed two groups of mice a diet high in fats and simple sugars.The first group became obese and showed signs related to metabolic syndrome- elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood levels of insulin and glucose and a fatty liver –all of which increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

However, the second group, which had Nobiletin added to its food, gained a normal amount of weight and showed no rise in cholesterol, insulin or glucose.

They were also more sensitive to insulin and their livers were found to be less fatty. "The Nobiletin-treated mice were protected from obesity,"said Dr Murray Huff, who led the research.

"And in longer-term studies, Nobiletin also protected these animals from atherosclerosis, the build-up of plaque in arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

"This paves the way for future studies to see if this is a suitable treatment for related conditions in people. "Dr Huff`s previous research had found a flavonoid,Naringenin, in grapefruit which also protects against obesity and metabolic syndrome.

But the tangerine flavonoid is much more potent, he said "What`s really interesting to us is that Nobiletin is ten times more potent in its protective effects compared to Naringenin, and this time, we`ve also shown Nobiletin has the ability to protect against atherosclerosis," he explained.

The new research has been published in the journal Diabetes.