Orange juice has long been a healthy breakfast staple. But blood orange juice is even better as it provides the best antioxidant hit, experts say.
Blood oranges, grown in hot Mediterranean countries, are reddish-purple and packed with anthocyanins – the natural compounds found in the likes of blue or purple berries, red cabbage and purple potatoes.
They have been linked to improved cardiovascular health, cancer prevention and improved cognitive function.
Orange juice has long been a healthy breakfast staple. But blood orange juice is even better as it provides the best antioxidant hit, experts say
Plant scientists Cathie Martin and Eugenio Butelli, from the John Innes Centre in Norwich, said making this ‘small change’ to your diet can have a big effect on your health and weight.
Dr Butelli said: ‘You should introduce them into your diet. It’s very difficult to get fresh blood oranges now, but you can get them in juice form. It’s beneficial for cardiovascular diseases and cancer.’
Their comments were made at the British Science Festival in Chelmsford, Essex.
Previous studies in overweight mice found those given blood orange juice ‘dramatically’ lost weight compared those who were given water or regular orange juice.
The researchers also recommended eating red grapes instead of green, purple carrots instead of orange ones and even purple sweet potatoes rather than regular ones – although they may not taste as good.
Blood oranges have been linked to improved cardiovascular health, cancer prevention and improved cognitive function
Dr Butelli said: ‘In general, whenever you see anything purple or blue-ish that’s a clue they contain anthocyanins. The same is true for blood orange juice.
‘We believe anthocyanins are a bit special… Even if it’s a tiny change in your metabolism, that’s good.’
Other red or purple drinks, such as blackcurrant or cranberry juice, also contain high levels of anthocyanins, they said.
But they cautioned most of the time they have a high sugar content, which can counteract the positive effects.
The researchers are so sure of the beneficial effect of anthocyanins they are currently seeking approval in the US to sell genetically modified tomatoes.
Unlike the traditional red variety, these have been engineered to be a deep purple colour, and are brimming with the powerful antioxidant.
Professor Martin said: ‘The purple tomatoes are genetically modified and it’s very difficult to get regulatory approval to grow GM food here in the UK for non-research purposes.
‘In the United States it’s different, so we have gone through the safety procedure with the FDA [the US Food and Drug Administration] and they’ll decide whether it’s safe. We’re fairly confident we’ll get that decision by the end of this year.’
Their comments were made at the British Science Festival in Cheltenham.