Prevention against the new coronavirus can be done in several ways. First, it is important to observe hygiene measures and social distancing. Then, as a second line of defense, there is the diet. More and more research is focusing on the role of certain nutrients in the fight against COVID-19 viral infection. Today we know that a preventive and supportive role for the immune system is played by vitamin D, C, zinc, selenium but also quercetin. Thanks to today's article we can add another beneficial substance, hesperidin that we can find in citrus fruits. The review was published in the Antioxidants journal by a team of the University of Verona Medical school (Bellavite et al, Antioxidants, 2020).
Hesperidin is an antimicrobial, antioxidant, antitumor, hypotensive and immunostimulating substance belonging to the class of polyphenols. Hesperidin is contained in citrus fruits, therefore oranges, blood oranges, mandarins, lemons and clementines, both in the juice but especially in the peel and in the white part, the albedo. Commercial juices, compared to home-made juices, contain a little more hesperidin since all the fruit is used in the production process. Well, based on studies performed through computer simulations, what has emerged is that hesperidin shows a great affinity to the proteins found on the surface of the new coronavirus. This means that hesperidin is likely to bind to these proteins, inactivating them and hindering the entry of the virus into cells, the development of the virus and its replication. Not only that, hesperidin also fights the oxidative stress of the cells. It is believed that one of the reasons why the virus is more dangerous in older people is precisely the fact that in children the antioxidant processes are much more developed while, with age, free radicals take over and this may cause a weakening of the body and of the immune system.
When eating citrus fruits, we should not forget the antioxidant properties of vitamin C, another substance contained in these fruits. Studies have also found that vitamin C can prevent the common cold in people under stress. Not only that, in case of influenza infection, vitamin C stimulates an anti viral response and reduces the inflammatory state of the lungs.
Therefore, hesperidin and vitamin C have been shown to be beneficial in activating the antiviral response and blocking the infection. The advice of the authors of the study is to integrate, always without exaggerating, in a healthy and varied diet citrus juices, possibly organic so as to be able to also consume the peel. For example, you can add a few strips of mandarin peel to yogurt or salad, or even grate the peel of citrus fruits on fruit salads.