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Does Citrus (Lemon or Orange) Peel Really Lower Cholesterol?

Updated on October 6, 2010

You've heard the rumors floating around out there that say that citrus peel can lower cholesterol. Is it true? Should you be making sure to eat your marmalade or snack on the rind of the oranges that you already have with your morning breakfast with the purpose of making your cholesterol levels go down? Maybe. Or maybe not. All diet advice comes with studies which offer conflicting opinions on whether or not they hold true, so it's hard to tell whether this one is fact or fad.

The reason that citrus rind is said to have cholesterol-lowering effects is because it is known to contain PMFs which have been shown in various studies to offer numerous different benefits to individual health, including that of lowered cholesterol. In studies of animals, certain dosages have been known to decrease the cholesterol levels of those with high cholesterol, bringing the levels back down to a more average range. However, studies on humans have bee inconclusive, so it's not positive that PMFs would have the same effect, long term, for people.

Even if PMFs do have a positive effect in lowering human cholesterol, it doesn't necessarily allow for the conclusion that citrus peel consumption would equal that effect. Although the rinds of fruits like oranges do contain PMFs, they may not contain them in such a quantity as to make a difference in cholesterol levels. And there could be adverse effects of consuming citrus peel in the quantity it could require to make such a difference. Such effects

So does that mean that you should avoid eating citrus peel? If you normally consume it in certain foods like jam anyway, you could try increasing your consumption a bit and seeing if it helps to lower your cholesterol. Individual bodies are different and it just might work for you. And there are known to be other positive health benefits to the consumption of orange peels. But if you don't already eat citrus rind, and you're planning to do it solely for the purpose of lowering your cholesterol, you should probably forego that plan. There are other cholesterol-lowering tricks that have more support behind them than this one does so far.

If you still think that you want to at least make a try with adding citrus peel to your diet, there are a few different ways that you can do this. Marmalade, particularly that made at home from scratch, is a great source of peel. You can also make whipped orange butter at home and add some peel to that to spread on your toast. Similarly, you can spice up your cream cheese with citrus peel. Orange juice and tangerine juice both have PMFs which can be enhanced by adding a bit of grated peel to the fresh squeezed juice. Unfortunately, the tastiest of orange peel treats, candied orange peels, bake most of the good stuff away and put some bad-for-you stuff in, so you'll want to stay away from that recipe. Start adding these items in moderation and see what effect they have on you to determine whether citrus peel is good or bad for your personal cholesterol.

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