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Bergamot for Cholesterol

Health Research
Last Updated Sep 07, 2020

Bergamot is known for its uplifting citrus scent and antiseptic properties. Now bergamot may have a role in managing cholesterol and blood glucose levels.

Bergamot's Versatility

Bergamot is the common name of the citrus bergamia risso plant. The fruit has a yellow skin and is the size of an orange. Although native to sout-east Asia, 80% of the world's bergamot is produced in Calabria, southern Italy where it grows extensively. If you've never heard of bergamot you've probably been exposed to it. The oil from the peel is used to flavour Early Grey tea and 50% of women's perfumes contain bergamot. Aromatherapists use bergamot oil to treat:

  • Depression
  • Psoriasis
  • Cuts, burns and wounds

Bergamot May Help High Cholesterol

In two separate studies, Italian researchers have found that bergamot can help lower cholesterol levels. In the most recent study researchers studied 82 people – who each had a total cholesterol and triglyceride level of 250 or higher (levels higher than 240 are generally regarded as dangerous). The participants' diet and other medications were modified for the trial. Each participant took one or two doses of 500mg of citrus bergamot polyphenolic extract for 30 days. The results showed a significant decrease in bad cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose levels. The results were: 

  • 42% increase in HDL (good cholesterol)
  • 38% decrease in LDL (bad cholesterol)
  • 41% decrease in triglycerides
  • up to 25% decrease in blood glucose

Lead researcher, Dr Vincenzo Mollace, professor аt thе Faculty οf Pharmacy, University "Magna Graecia", Catanzaro, Italy wаѕ encouraged bу thе result. "In јuѕt four weeks, wе saw a significant reduction іn total cholesterol, LDL аnd triglycerides аmοng patients whο hаd elevated cholesterol levels аnd a high risk fοr CVD (cardio vascular disease). In addition, wе аrе seeing significant increase іn HDL, thе gοοd cholesterol аnd а reduction іn blood glucose."

Why is High Cholesterol Dangerous?

Cholesterol is a natural product of the liver and in the right amounts does not pose a problem to the body. Sometimes, however, the body produces too much cholesterol, making us susceptible to cardiovascular disease and heart attack.

How Does Bergamot Work?

Bergamot is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from oxidation and free-radicals. The researchers found the cardiovascular benefits of bergamot stem from its unique combination and high concentration of flavanoids that include naringin, neoeriocitrin and neohesperidin. These compounds work by blocking a key enzyme in the production of cholesterol (just like conventional statin medications). Unlike statins, which can have severe side effects, the study showed no significant side effects from taking bergamot. However, bergamot can interfere with other medications. Talk to you health practitioner before taking bergamot.

Bergamot Benefits Blood Glucose Too

It's not just people with high cholesterol who may benefit from bergamot. People at risk of diabetes, such as those with prediabetes and metabolic syndrome, may benefit as bergamot has been shown to lower blood glucose levels by between 15-25%.

Where To Buy Bergamot

Citrus Bergamot Polyphenolic Extract capsules are sold at selected health food stores, pharmacies and online. Although bergamot capsules are derived from the same plant as bergamot oil they are not interchangeable.  Bergamot may be beneficial to you if you suffer from high cholesterol, insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. Always talk to your healthcare practitioner before starting any new medication or herbal supplement.

Originally published on May 26, 2011

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