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Oranges, lemons and limes are an excellent source of beneficial nutrients like vitamins and antioxidants. But there's new evidence suggesting that citrus fruits can also protect against a wide range of adverse conditions and diseases.

According to a study conducted by researchers at the Universidad Estadual Paulista, people who consume citrus fruits on a regular basis have a lower risk of developing obesity and diabetes.

For the study, researchers fed mice different diets, including a low-fat and high-fat diet. Researchers discovered that mice fed a high-fat diet had a higher markers of cell damage in the form of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) by roughly 80% when compared to the control group which were fed a low-fat diet. However, researchers also found that feeding these mice antioxidants commonly found in citrus fruits (flavanones (hesperidin, eriocitrin and eriodictyol) decreased these levels by up to 64%

Of course, this is big news considering that some 80 million men and women in the United States are classified as obese. To put the problem into perspective, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says roughly one-third of all U.S. adults are obese. Obesity in itself isn't necessarily bad, but it can bring on a wide range of adverse health problems and diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, oxidative stress, liver disease and even cancer.

Obesity typically occurs when a person has a high fat diet. Our bodies are designed to burn and use some fat. But when we consume too much, it can lead to obesity. Fat cells trigger the production of reactive oxygen, which in turn result in a phenomenon known as oxidative stress. This stress weakens and kills otherwise healthy cells, increasing the risk of disease and illness.

According to this study, however, we can protect ourselves from oxidative stress caused by obesity by consuming more citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes.

"In the future we can use citrus flavanone to prevent or delay chronic diseases caused by obesity in humans," said Paula S. Ferreira, one of the study's authors. "This study also suggests that consuming citrus fruits probably could have beneficial effects for people who are not obese, but have diets rich in fats, putting them at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and abdominal obesity."

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