Plain language summary
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) cause around 31% of all deaths worldwide. Certain dietary patterns have been associated with a reduction in CVDs and so the use of natural-based products has gained importance as a preventive strategy. Hesperidin is a bioactive compound found in high levels in citrus fruits. The reported beneficial properties include antitumor, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory; cholesterol and glucose lowering effects. Many animal studies show multiple beneficial effects but are inconclusive in human studies. The aim of this review is to describe the effects of hesperidin on CVD factors and to highlight the individual differences in its bioavailability and effectiveness. The gut bacteria play an important role in this. Hesperidin is not broken down by the normal digestive process and reaches the colon largely intact. It is the job of the gut bacteria to break it down into bioavailable substances that can be absorbed and utilised. The discrepancies observed in some of the results from human clinical trials may be partly due to individual differences, including that of the gut bacteria. Further clinical trials should be considered as well as classifying individuals according to individual differences in metabotypes.
Recently, hesperidin, a flavonone mainly present in citrus fruits, has emerged as a new potential therapeutic agent able to modulate several cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) risk factors. Animal and in vitro studies demonstrate beneficial effects of hesperidin and its derived compounds on CVD risk factors. Thus, hesperidin has shown glucose-lowering and anti-inflammatory properties in diabetic models, dyslipidemia-, atherosclerosis-, and obesity-preventing effects in CVDs and obese models, and antihypertensive and antioxidant effects in hypertensive models. However, there is still controversy about whether hesperidin could contribute to ameliorate glucose homeostasis, lipid profile, adiposity, and blood pressure in humans, as evidenced by several clinical trials reporting no effects of treatments with this flavanone or with orange juice on these cardiovascular parameters. In this review, we focus on hesperidin's beneficial effects on CVD risk factors, paying special attention to the high interindividual variability in response to hesperidin-based acute and chronic interventions, which can be partly attributed to differences in gut microbiota. Based on the current evidence, we suggest that some of hesperidin's contradictory effects in human trials are partly due to the interindividual hesperidin variability in its bioavailability, which in turn is highly dependent on the α-rhamnosidase activity and gut microbiota composition.