Citrus bergamot and red yeast rice are two herbs compared to each other due largely to their potential to reduce cholesterol levels. There are other health benefits to both of these herbs too.
The purpose of this article is to illustrate which herb is best for you. We will go over the similarities and differences between citrus bergamot vs. red yeast rice, including the health benefits, side effects, safety, and required dosages.
Table of Contents
Citrus Bergamot Overview:
Citrus bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is a yellowish-green citrus fruit that is thought to be a hybrid of the lemon and bitter orange. It is native to Calabria, which is the southern region in Italy.
Healers have used citrus bergamot in traditional medicine for many ailments, such as cholesterol levels and infections. Additionally, many people have consumed citrus bergamot in the form of Earl Grey tea, which is made by combining black tea leaves with an oil extract from citrus bergamot.
There are many well-researched benefits of citrus bergamot, most of which are due to the flavonoid compounds in it, such as neoereocitrin, neohesperidin, and naringin.
Listed below is an overview of the main benefits of citrus bergamot.
1. May Reduce Cholesterol
Citrus bergamot has been shown to improve cholesterol levels, according to many clinical trials. This is arguably the most well-researched benefit of citrus bergamot.
One clinical trial found that citrus bergamot supplementation significantly reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol. Citrus bergamot also increased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Another clinical study showed that citrus bergamot flavonoids led to improvements in total cholesterol profile. Specifically, it was able to reduce LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and increase HDL cholesterol.
Several other clinical trials confirm these effects and are supportive of citrus bergamot’s cholesterol-lowering effects. Researchers have found that citrus bergamot improves cholesterol by inhibiting the HMG Coa-reductase enzyme, which then leads to a decrease in cholesterol production. Furthermore, citrus bergamot helps remove cholesterol from the blood and inhibits LDL oxidation.
2. May Lower Blood Sugar
Multiple clinical trials show that citrus bergamot is effective for lowering blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity.
A clinical trial on individuals with type 2 diabetes revealed that citrus bergamot supplementation led to a significant reduction in blood sugar compared to the placebo.
Another clinical study on obese adults with high blood sugar and metabolic syndrome showed that citrus bergamot supplementation markedly decreased blood sugar levels and led to a healthier body composition. The researchers also found that citrus bergamot enhanced insulin sensitivity and improved insulin resistance.
Research shows that citrus bergamot is effective for lowering blood sugar in both patients with high blood sugar and normal blood sugar levels. This means it may be effective both for preventing and reversing high blood sugar.
Citrus bergamot seems to work for blood sugar control by enhancing AMP kinase (AMPK) and other enzymes involved in sugar metabolism. Citrus bergamot improves insulin sensitivity as well, which ultimately regulates blood sugar levels more effectively.
3. May Lead to Weight Loss
Citrus bergamot also is beneficial for weight loss and body fat reduction. This is tied into the above benefits, but there are also some specific ways that citrus bergamot reduces body weight.
One clinical trial on older adults with elevated blood lipids (fats in the blood) showed that citrus bergamot supplementation led to a lower body weight, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI) compared to the placebo group.
Another clinical study on patients with metabolic syndrome revealed that citrus bergamot supplementation led to decreases in body weight and BMI. The researchers also noted significant improvements in various hormonal markers related to metabolism and weight management.
Citrus bergamot supplements seem to work for weight loss in a few ways, such as by increasing the activity of enzymes involved in fat and sugar metabolism. Moreover, citrus bergamot may help regulate appetite and hunger by improving the function of the hormones leptin and ghrelin.
4. May Reduce Inflammation
A couple of clinical trials provide evidence that citrus bergamot may reduce inflammation.
One clinical trial on patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease revealed that citrus bergamot supplementation significantly decreased markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP).
In another clinical study in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes, researchers discovered that citrus bergamot supplementation decreased several inflammatory markers.
Citrus bergamot likely reduces inflammation due to its high presence of flavonoids and other antioxidant compounds. These can reduce numerous inflammatory markers and decrease oxidative stress in the body.
Red Yeast Rice Overview:
Red yeast rice is a popular supplement that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and many East Asian countries, such as China, Japan, and Thailand. It has been traditionally used used for indigestion, poor blood circulation, and other ailments.
Red yeast rice is produced through a fermentation process in which cooked rice kernels are fermented using a mold called Monascus purpureus. This turns rice into its reddish-purple color, hence the name red yeast rice.
Red yeast rice has been used as a food additive to enhance the flavor of various dishes. But it also has been used for many potential health benefits, which are attributed to several different compounds, such as monocalin K, monascin, and rubropunctatin.
Below is a review of the main health benefits of red yeast rice.
1. May Improve Cholesterol Levels
The most well-researched benefit of red yeast rice is improved cholesterol levels, as many clinical trials indicate.
One clinical trial on individuals with high cholesterol levels showed that red yeast rice extract led to major reductions in LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol, in addition to significant increases in HDL cholesterol.
A clinical study on individuals with moderate hypercholesterolemia revealed that red yeast rice performed better than phytosterols for decreasing LDL cholesterol.
One clinical trial on patients with hyperlipidemia found that monacolin K-rich red yeast rice led to marked decreases in LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol.
Red yeast rice seems to work for reducing cholesterol and lipids in a few ways. For example, it upregulates receptors involved in cholesterol metabolism, enhances enzymes involved in fat breakdown, and helps prevent fat and cholesterol accumulation in the liver and other areas.
2. May Improve Circulatory Health
A few clinical trials show that red yeast rice may be beneficial for vascular and circulatory health.
One clinical trial showed that administration of red yeast rice monacolins led to significant reductions in inflammatory markers and increased endothelial function, which are both suggestive of improved vascular health.
In another clinical study, researchers discovered that monacolins from red yeast rice greatly decreased markers of inflammation and vascular remodeling. This suggests that red yeast rice was effective for preventing dysfunction in the vascular system that could otherwise lead to health problems, such as atherosclerosis.
Overall, red yeast rice appears to improve vascular function and circulation, which is largely attributed to reduced endothelial inflammation as well as preventing the buildup of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Citrus Bergamot vs. Red Yeast Rice: Which is Right for You?
At this point, you may be wondering if citrus bergamot or red yeast rice is better.
Now, both citrus bergamot and red yeast rice have a lot of evidence behind them for reducing cholesterol levels. Moreover, they both seem to reduce inflammation.
Citrus bergamot has more evidence behind it for additional health benefits, such as blood sugar control and weight loss. Although red yeast rice may offer more of a benefit for circulatory support.
Overall, when comparing red yeast rice vs. citrus bergamot, we recommend citrus bergamot for overall metabolic health and weight loss support, which includes cholesterol and blood sugar regulation.
Can You Take Citrus Bergamot and Red Yeast Rice Together?
Yes. It appears safe for most people to take citrus bergamot and red yeast rice together, especially if the goal is to optimize cholesterol levels.
Click here to read our detailed guide on citrus bergamot dosages.
However, keep in mind that both supplements have similar cholesterol-reducing actions. Thus, it is particularly prudent to talk with one’s doctor and possibly get periodic blood work done to ensure that cholesterol levels stay within a normal range.
Citrus Bergamot vs. Red Yeast Rice: Potential Side Effects & Interactions:
There are always possible side effects with herbal supplements. Citrus bergamot and red yeast rice are no exception, although they seem generally safe for most people.
Both of these supplements may interact with medications that lower cholesterol. Additionally, citrus bergamot may interact with medications that lower blood sugar. Therefore, it’s important to check with your doctor to ensure a safe supplementation route.
Click here for a comprehensive view of the safety of citrus bergamot.
Red yeast rice is generally considered safe, although there are possible side effects, such as stomach discomfort, diarrhea, nausea, headache, and dizziness. Also, red yeast rice can contain high levels of monacolin K, which may increase the risk of liver damage and muscle disorders.
Overall, it appears that citrus bergamot is a safer option than red yeast rice, even though the latter also seems relatively safe for most people to consume.
Citrus bergamot and red yeast rice are health-promoting herbs with several potential benefits.
Both of these herbs may improve cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. Citrus bergamot seems more effective for lowering blood sugar and aiding weight loss, whereas red yeast rice may have the advantage for improving circulatory health.
Additionally, citrus bergamot seems to have a higher safety profile than red yeast rice, even though both are generally safe.
In conclusion, we recommend citrus bergamot over red yeast rice in most cases due to its wider range of health benefits and higher safety profile.