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Benefits of a Quercetin-Rich Diet

by Deesha Patel

There is little doubt that a Westernized diet--often high in fat, cholesterol, and sugar--contributes to a variety of diseases, prominently obesity and cardiovascular disease. An increase in fresh fruit and vegetable consumption could reduce the risk of these diseases. Both fruits and vegetables contain an antioxidant called quercetin. Quercetin--like all antioxidants--hunts for damaging particles in the body called free radicals; quercetin then neutralizes the free radicals and reduces or even prevents the damage from happening. Previous studies have found that quercetin may reduce the severity of allergies and asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, prostatitis, and hypertension; it may also reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Kobori et al. in Japan investigated the effect of a quercetin-rich diet on obesity and dysregulated hepatic (liver) gene expression in mice. For 20 weeks, the mice received a Western diet (high in fat, cholesterol, and sugar) or a control diet daily; both were with or without 0.05% quercetin. After eight weeks of a Western diet with quercetin, the mice had improvements in triglyceride levels (chemical form of fat), oxidative stress (free radical damage), glutathione levels (an antioxidant), and part of the hepatic gene expression that is involved in the regulation of metabolism and inflammation.

After 20 weeks of a Western diet with quercetin, there was a decrease in liver fat accumulation, as well as improvements in hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), hyperinsulinemia (high insulin), adiponectin (hormone that regulates metabolism), cholesterol, and inflammation markers; hepatic gene expression further improved. Mice that received the control diet with quercetin did not have as many improvements as the mice that received the Western diet with quercetin; they only had a reduction in inflammation markers and some improvement in hepatic gene expression.

Kobori et al. concluded that a chronic dietary intake of quercetin with a Western diet could reduce fat accumulation in the liver and improve other significant clinical parameters, such as cholesterol, blood sugar, and adiponectin, that are associated with obesity and cardiovascular disease. However, this study has only been completed in mice. Further studies are needed to examine the effects of quercetin in humans

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This article was published on Monday May 09, 2011.
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