Mandarin Oranges May Benefit the Liver

Carotenoids in Mandarin Oranges May Improve Liver Health

Here’s your Jeopardy answer of the day (The category is Classes of Fruit): “Emperor, Willow-leaf, Oneco, Le-dar, Changsa.”

If you responded, “What are classes of mandarin oranges, Alex?” then you’re one smart cookie when it comes to citrus.

Mandarin oranges are a good source of calcium, phosphorus and, of course, vitamin C. But they also contain carotenoids, which may be the key to the mechanism that makes mandarin intake beneficial for the liver.

Two recent studies from Japan reviewed the power of the mandarin.

In the first study, researchers examined blood samples in more than 1,000 subjects whose diets included regular mandarin intake. Analysis of the samples revealed that a high intake of the small orange was associated with a reduced risk of stroke, heart disease, and liver cancer.

In study two, Kyoto researchers recruited 75 subjects with viral hepatitis, a precursor of liver cancer. Thirty subjects were instructed to drink mandarin juice daily, while 45 subjects were asked to refrain from mandarin intake. After one year, none of the mandarin subjects had developed liver cancer, but nearly 9 percent in the non-mandarin group had been diagnosed with the disease.

Further studies are needed to confirm the results of this fairly small study. In the meantime, two important steps will go a long way toward reducing liver cancer risk: 1) Don’t smoke or use tobacco products, and 2) Consume alcohol in moderation.


“Mandarins ‘Cut Liver Cancer Risk'” BBC News, 9/11/06,