A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Canadian KGK Synergize company, published in the May 12, 2004, issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, identified a class of compounds isolated from orange and tangerine peels that shows promise in animal studies as a potent, natural alternative for lowering LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, without the possible drug side effects, such as liver disease and muscle weakness.

The compounds, called polymethoxylated flavones (PMF), are similar to other plant pigments found in citrus fruits that have been increasingly linked to health benefits, including protection against cancer, heart disease and inflammation. Using hamster models with diet-induced high cholesterol, the researchers showed that feeding them food containing 1% PMFs lowered levels of LDL cholesterol by 32% to 40%.