Of all the specialty citrus fruits, Moro blood oranges are uniquely gifted with significant levels of a bioflavonoid called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins give Moros their gorgeous dark red hue – the reddest and darkest of the blood oranges. They’re also responsible for the blue in blueberries and the dark red of cherries.
Moro blood oranges have evolved in specific regions of the world where the climatic conditions are just right, which includes a period of cold weather that sparks their deeply saturated pigmentation.
In 2009, Italian researchers published a paper in the International Journal of Obesity with the results of an experiment that looked at the effects of consuming two different types of oranges vis a vis the accumulation of fat in test mice.
- The mice were fed a high fat diet – or the standard North American diet, in other others.
- The result was, the mice became fat.
- They were then given either Moro blood orange juice or Navelina (navel) orange juice instead of water, along with their regular diet.
- The researchers analyzed body weight and food intake.
The results were clear. From the paper:
Dietary supplementation of Moro juice, but not Navelina juice significantly reduced body weight gain and fat accumulation regardless of the increased energy intake because of sugar content. Furthermore, mice drinking Moro juice were resistant to HFD-induced obesity with no alterations in food intake. Only the anthocyanin extract, but not the purified C3G, slightly affected fat accumulation. High-throughput gene expression analysis of fat tissues confirmed that Moro juice could entirely rescue the high fat-induced transcriptional reprogramming.
The experiment looked at the effect of concentrated anthocyanin extract vs purified cyanidin-3-glucoside (C3G). While anthocyanins did produce some result, it couldn’t explain the total effect.
The researchers ended by concluding that the presence of anthocyanins alone was not the explanation.
Our findings suggest that multiple components present in the Moro orange juice might act synergistically to inhibit fat accumulation.
More research is needed, but the message is clear – eating the whole fruit is the way to get its nutritional benefits.