The findings – due to be presented at the American Chemical Society next month – suggest that phenolic compounds in stone fruits could act against conditions where obesity and inflammation lead to serious health issues such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Research leader, Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, of Texas AgriLife Research Center, USA, said that whilst lifestyle, genetic predisposition and diet all play a major role in the risk of becoming obese, “the major concern about obesity is the associated disease known as metabolic syndrome.”
“Our studies have shown that stone fruits – peaches, plums and nectarines – have bioactive compounds that can potentially fight the syndrome," said Cisneros-Zevallos.
"Our work indicates that phenolic compounds present in these fruits have anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties in different cell lines and may also reduce the oxidation of bad cholesterol LDL which is associated to cardiovascular disease."
The research leader said the unique mixture of bioactive compounds found in such stone fruits work simultaneously and synergistically to reduce the effects of different components of the disease.
"Our work shows that the four major phenolic groups – anthocyanins, clorogenic acids, quercetin derivatives and catechins – work on different cells – fat cells, macrophages and vascular endothelial cells," he explained. "They modulate different expressions of genes and proteins depending on the type of compound.
"However, at the same time, all of them are working simultaneously in different fronts against the components of the disease, including obesity, inflammation, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Cisneros-Zevallos said the findings are believed to be the first time that "bioactive compounds of a fruit have been shown to potentially work in different fronts against a disease."
"Each of these stone fruits contain similar phenolic groups but in differing proportions so all of them are a good source of health promoting compounds and may complement each other," he said, adding that his team plans to continue studying the role of each type of compound on the molecular mechanisms and confirm the work with mice studies.