Citrus bergamot is a citrus fruit originally found in Italy. This fruit was used in traditional medicine for fevers, parasitic infections, as well as for heart health.
Modern research shows various benefits of citrus bergamot, especially for lowering cholesterol.
In this article, we will detail the potential benefits of citrus bergamot for cholesterol, how this occurs, and implementation guidelines.
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Citrus Bergamot Overview:
Citrus bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is a perennial in the Rutaceae (i.e. citrus) family that grows primarily in Calabria, which is a southern region of Italy.
It goes by a couple other names, including bergamot orange and sour orange.
The benefits of citrus bergamot are attributed to its high concentration of flavonoids and other polyphenols, which are found in extracts from the juice as well as essential oils in the peels.
The essential oils found in the rind of citrus bergamot is also added to black tea leaves to flavor popular Earl Grey tea.
Specifically, the main phytochemicals that may have benefits for cholesterol include (among others):
Benefits of Citrus Bergamot for Cholesterol
There are many clinical studies that point to the effectiveness of citrus bergamot for lowering cholesterol. Specifically, citrus bergamot is known to reduce cholesterol levels in individuals with high cholesterol (or hyperlipidemia). This may lead to improvements in overall heart health as well, given the connection between the two.
One clinical study looked into the effects of 500mg and 1,000mg of citrus bergamot on markers of total, LDL, and HDL cholesterol in 237 subjects. With respect to the 500mg and 1,000mg dosages of citrus bergamot, the researchers found that citrus bergamot supplementation reduced total cholesterol (by 20% and 30.9%) and LDL cholesterol (by 23% and 38.6%), while also increasing HDL cholesterol (by 25.9% and 39%).
These effects all show the protective effects of citrus bergamot on cholesterol given that LDL is often seen as the “bad” form while “HDL” is the good form. This is because LDL cholesterol can build up in the walls of your blood vessels, whereas HDL helps to absorb cholesterol in the blood and carry it back to the liver.
Another clinical trial analyzed the effects of citrus bergamot, rosuvastatin (a prescription statin medication), and their combination on cholesterol and other markers in people with elevated LDL and triglycerides.
The researchers found that all groups showed a decrease in total cholesterol, LDL, and the ratio of LDL to HDL compared to the placebo. They also discovered that these patients showed decreased markers of vascular damage. Additionally, in patients given citrus bergamot plus rosuvastatin, citrus bergamot appeared to enhance rosuvastatin’s effects.
This could have some important implications, such as that patients taking statins may be able to decrease their dosage if they also take citrus bergamot, which acts somewhat like a natural statin. And this could decrease the chances of side effects from statins, which can be quite common. Click here for a detailed overview of the benefits of citrus bergamot vs. statins.
One clinical trial involving 80 patients with high cholesterol levels analyzed the effects of 150mg of citrus bergamot on cholesterol. Researchers showed that daily citrus bergamot supplementation for six months led to a decrease in total cholesterol (255 to 224), LDL cholesterol (159 to 132), and triglycerides (159 to 133), as well as an increase in HDL cholesterol (50 to 54).
Another clinical study on individuals with type 2 diabetes and hyperlipidemia looked into the effects of citrus bergamot on cholesterol levels and other markers. Subjects were given either a placebo, a citrus bergamot supplement, or a special phytosomal form of citrus bergamot thought to have superior absorption.
They found that both groups of citrus bergamot experienced a decrease in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, as well as an increase in HDL cholesterol. While these effects were similar between groups, the phytosomal formulation had a higher absorption rate for key flavonoids, which suggests that it may have better effects over time.
One clinical trial on 107 individuals with metabolic syndrome showed that supplementation with 650mg of citrus bergamot twice daily for 120 days led to significant improvements in lipid profiles. Specifically, total cholesterol went from 245 to 182, LDL cholesterol decreased from 162 to 101, triglycerides lowered from 232 to 160, and HDL cholesterol increased from 38 to 49.
Metabolic syndrome has many factors, but elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels are the two main ones. So this provides evidence that citrus bergamot can help attack a couple of major risk factors in this disease.
Summary:Clinical research has found that citrus bergamot may work to lower cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol.
How Does Citrus Bergamot Lower Cholesterol?
There are a few mechanisms behind citrus bergamot’s cholesterol-lowering effects. Citrus bergamot’s primary mechanism of action is thought to be its ability to work as a natural statin.
Citrus bergamot is rich in neohesperidin and naringin, compounds that are thought to inhibit HMG CoA-reductase, an important enzyme involved in cholesterol production. Thus, inhibiting this enzyme may lead to less cholesterol production, which is similar to how statin drugs work.
Citrus bergamot is also rich in numerous flavonoids, including naringin, rutin, and poncirin, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Additionally, neoereocitrin and other compounds in citrus bergamot seem to inhibit LDL oxidation.
Moreover, as it has been shown in research, citrus bergamot increases HDL cholesterol, which is important because HDL removes excess cholesterol from the blood and carries it back to the liver for processing. Without enough HDL, cholesterol is more likely to build up in the bloodstream and cause negative effects.
Mechanism of Action:It’s thought that Citrus Bergamot lowers cholesterol levels by primarily working as a natural statin drug in that it lowers cholesterol production in the body.
How Long Does it Take for Citrus Bergamot to Help With Cholesterol?
Based on the latest evidence, citrus bergamot seems to significantly reduce cholesterol within four weeks, but more pronounced effects may occur with a longer supplementation of three to six months. Most studies used 500mg to 1,000mg of citrus bergamot extract, and this appears to be a highly effective dosage.
It is important to note that individual results may vary when supplementing with citrus bergamot.
Click here to read our article going over the recommended dosages for citrus bergamot.
It is advised to talk with one’s doctor before starting citrus bergamot supplementation and to get periodic blood work done to see if citrus bergamot is having a beneficial effect.
Summary:Daily supplementation of 500mg to 1,000mg of citrus bergamot is thought to begin working within four weeks, but more significant effects are thought to occur after three to six months of supplementation.
Citrus Bergamot vs. Other Herbs:
Citrus Bergamot is often compared with many other different types of herbs. We have put together a few helpful articles going over common comparisons.
Below, we’ve compiled our articles that go over the specific health benefits of citrus bergamot for additional reading.
One of the most well-researched benefits of citrus bergamot is its effects on cholesterol.
Specifically, several clinical studies show that citrus bergamot supplementation reduces total and LDL cholesterol while also improving HDL cholesterol. These effects are attributed to the many different flavonoid compounds in citrus bergamot, such as naringin and hesperidin.
As it is currently known, citrus bergamot supplementation in the range of 500mg to 1,000mg per day for at least four weeks appears to be an effective way to lower cholesterol and improve overall lipid profiles.
If you’re looking to naturally lower your cholesterol levels, consider trying citrus bergamot.