The research, funded by the Fruit Juice Science Centre in Belgium, requires healthy adults with pre-existing cardiovascular risk factors to drink either pure orange juice or two versions of a placebo drink daily for six weeks.
One of the control drinks will contain added hesperidin to confirm if the polyphenol is responsible for any beneficial effects.
Francois Bauwens, programme director for the Fruit Juice Science Centre, said: “The topic of vascular health and citrus polyphenols was identified by our independent scientific expert panel as a significant research opportunity, so I’m delighted to be announcing the launch of this study.
“Over the next two to three years, we will learn more about how hesperidin and other citrus polyphenols influence cardiometabolic risk factors, such as blood pressure and vascular performance.”
He added: “The results might help the fruit juice industry to develop innovative products or adapt on-pack labels to help consumers manage their health and wellness.”
The research will be carried out as a joint enterprise between academic institutions including INRAE and Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Clermont-Ferrand in France, supported by polyphenol experts at Geisenheim University in Germany.
The study will also examine which genes are activated by orange juice polyphenols, as well as monitor changes to the gut microbiota.
The French lead of Hesper-Health, Dr Christine Morand, said: “While most people recognise the benefit of some polyphenol-rich foods, such as dark chocolate, olive oil or tea, the contribution of fruit juices has not yet been fully explored. I hope our new study will help to change this.”
The German lead, Dr Ralf Schweiggert, added: “The story about orange juice polyphenols is only just evolving and we are expecting to discover so much more about their effects on health.
“Drinking orange juice is often taken for granted, or criticised due to the sugar content. Yet, the health benefits of the complex mixture of vitamins, minerals and polyphenols present in citrus fruits and juices deserve further study and recognition.”