Study from Pennington Biomedical suggests citrus fruits could help burn calories

Study from Pennington Biomedical suggests citrus fruits could help burn calories

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - According to a recent study by LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, naringenin, a chemical found in oranges and other citrus fruits, could be helpful in controlling blood glucose levels and increasing the amount of calories people burn.

Brown adipose tissue (fat) is a type of fat that burns more calories than white fat. Pennington says white fat in rodents exposed to cold converts to a type of brown fat called beige fat, and having more beige fat can help prevent diet-induced weight gain and improve how the body uses blood sugar and cholesterol. Previous studies show naringenin increases brown fat in rodents.

Pennington’s recent study examined the effects of naringenin on energy expenditure in fat tissue in humans.


  • Researchers say humans have three types of fat: white, beige, and brown
  • Humans have about 30 lbs of white fat and only 3 oz of that fat being brown
  • Smaller animals have large amounts of brown fat
  • Studies in rodents show brown fat helps their bodies burn more calories and keep them warm
  • White fat that’s converted into brown fat is called beige fat
  • Beige fat burns energy similarly to brown fat

The study was published in the journal, Obesity, and marks the first time naringenin has been tested in human fat cells, Pennington says. Drs. Candida Rebello, Frank Greenway, Jacqueline Stephens, William Johnson, and Ann Coulter authored the study.

“We found that naringenin activates the genes that are responsible for improving blood glucose control and increasing the amount of calories we burn. Our studies in human fat tissue suggest that naringenin could be used to convert white fat to beige fat in human subjects,” said Dr. Rebello, a postdoctoral researcher in Pennington Biomedical’s Pharmacology-Based Clinical Trials Unit.

Pennington says since obese people have a lot of white fat and very little brown fat, converting white fat to beige fat could be beneficial. More beige fat means more calories from far and sugar can be burned, which is helpful for those with obesity or diabetes.

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