The humble grapefruit could prove to be a mighty - if bitter tasting - weapon in the fight against diabetes, scientists say.
A study found naringenin, a flavonoid found in citrus fruit, makes the liver burn fat instead of storing it after a meal. Researchers believe the chemical would also help obesity sufferers and even fight diabetes, because it also helped balance insulin and glucose levels.
Naringenin gives citrus fruit, in particular grapefruit, its bitter taste. But since the tests involved far higher doses of naringenin than those found naturally in the fruit, anyone interested in its fat-busting benefits will have to wait for scientists to develop a concentrated supplement.
Once available, it could help treat patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes, a main cause of heart disease.
The tests were carried out on mice by a team at the Robarts Research Institute at the University of Western Ontario, in Canada, and published in the journal Diabetes-Two groups of mice were both fed the equivalent of a Western diet to speed up their ‘metabolic syndrome’ - the process which leads to Type 2 diabetes in humans.
One of the groups ate food that had been treated with naringenin.
The non-naringenin mice became obese, their cholesterol levels rose and their bodies became resistant to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.
The mice given the chemical did not suffer from these ailments, despite eating identical diets to the others.