New HESPER-HEALTH study launched in Europe



New HESPER-HEALTH study launched in Europe to test the impact of orange juice polyphenols on blood pressure control and vascular function using the latest scientific techniques

1 min read

Scientists at three leading European institutions are to start work on a significant new study, called HESPER-HEALTH, to examine how drinking orange juice influences blood pressure and the functioning of blood vessels.

The study, funded by the Fruit Juice Science Centre, is a joint enterprise with several academic institutions including INRAE and Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Clermont-Ferrand in France, supported by polyphenol experts at Geisenheim University in Germany.

Citrus fruit polyphenols, specifically hesperidin, have been under the spotlight as recent studies suggest they influence the health and functioning of blood vessels, and may impact on normal blood pressure[1]. Orange juice also contains potassium, a mineral which supports normal blood pressure.

In the new HESPER-HEALTH study, healthy adults with pre-existing cardiovascular risk factors will be asked to drink either pure orange juice or two versions of a placebo drink daily for six weeks. One of the control drinks will contain added hesperidin to confirm if this polyphenol is responsible for any effects.

As well as investigating vascular function and blood pressure, the clinical trial will also examine changes to gut bacteria and use a novel technique, called Nutrigenomics, to examine which genes are being switched on and off by orange juice polyphenols.

The French lead of HESPER-HEALTH, Dr Christine Morand, noted: “I am very much looking forward to beginning this two-year study to examine the potential impact of orange juice on vascular health. While most people recognise the benefit of some polyphenol-rich foods, such as dark chocolate, olive oil or tea, the contribution of fruit juices has not yet been fully explored. I hope our new study will help to change this”.

The German lead, Dr Ralf Schweiggert, added: “The story about orange juice polyphenols is only just evolving and we are expecting to discover so much more about their effects on health. Drinking orange juice is often taken for granted – or criticised due to the sugar content. Yet, the health benefits of the complex mixture of vitamins, minerals and polyphenols present in citrus fruits and juices deserve further study and recognition. This is what HESPER-HEALTH plans to achieve”.

[1] Rangel-Huerta et al. (2015) J Nutr 145: 1808-1816. Morand et al. (2011) Am J Clin Nutr 93: 73-80.