We have always known that there is something very special about the blood oranges produced in Sicily. In a study conducted by the University of Catania we learned a number of years ago that the oranges Sicilian call “sanguinelle” because of the reddish color of their pulp represent something unique that grows only on the island.
We learned that even though they have been planted in many other countries, including the United States (in Florida and California, for example), the peculiar qualities of the Sicilian blood orange have not been reproduced anywhere else. As I recall the article on blood oranges we published many years ago, one of the reasons for this is the unique combination of weather found on the island, specifically the fact that the very hot days are followed by cool evenings, which seems to affect the qualities of the oranges.
In a study recently published in the International Journal of Obesity we learn that the blood oranges of Sicily, especially the “Moro” variety, has been shown to be effective against obesity by hindering the accumulation of triglycerides in the blood of experimental mice. The study which was conducted by the European Institute of Oncology in Milan and by the Center for Citrus Culture in Acireale (Catania) was presented at a conference sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture and the City of Rome. The study was conducted on laboratory mice that were given a fat rich diet as well as juice from blood oranges. According to Lucilla Titta of the European Institute for Oncology, “The effects on the mice was surprising. In fact the mice lost a considerable amount of weight, as though their capacity to accumulate triglycerides had been reduced.”
The result of the study showed that the obesity created by the ingestion of fats had been reversed by the consumption of the juice from blood oranges. The researchers conducted a similar study, but instead of blood oranges they fed the mice regular oranges. The obesity reducing effect was not achieved with the regular blond variety of oranges. This shows, according to Ms. Titta, that blood oranges possess qualities that could prove effective against obesity, and that only the blood orange has those beneficial qualities.
Prof. Gaetano Cipolla