Does Bergamot Lower Cholesterol Levels?

Does Bergamot Lower Cholesterol Levels?

Bergamot, which you may know if you dabble in essential oils or drink Earl Grey tea, is a citrus fruit primarily found in the Calabria region of Southern Italy. That area of Italy has a long tradition of using bergamot in folk medicine to treat fevers and infections. In recent years, researchers have examined bergamot’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which indicate that it may help lower total cholesterol levels. 

Can Bergamot Improve Cholesterol?

According to clinical trials that involved oral administration of bergamot, it may help reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the bad one). Other lab studies indicate that bergamot’s polyphenols may influence enzymes that relate to cholesterol metabolism. In fact, a systematic review of 12 studies found that supplementing with bergamot demonstrated the following:

  • LDL cholesterol decrease: ranging from 7.6% to 40.8%
  • Triglyceride decrease: ranging from 11.5% to 39.5%
  • Total cholesterol decrease: ranging from 12.3% to 31.3%

An additional eight trials found that bergamot was able to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (good cholesterol). The studies revealed a potential dose-dependent effect and synergy with statins. That means that bergamot could be an alternative for dyslipidemia, especially in statin-intolerant people. In fact, one study found that bergamot fruit extract reduced overall cholesterol levels in liver cells. Although it didn’t block the enzyme involved with making cholesterol, it did limit cholesterol absorption in intestinal cells. 

How Long Does It Take For Bergamot To Lower Cholesterol?

There is one component in bergamot fruit extract, neohesperidin, which studies found decreased the activity of the enzyme responsible for cholesterol production. Additionally, neohesperidin boosted the function of another enzyme related to cholesterol management. Clinical studies suggest that cholesterol levels may reduce after weeks of regular bergamot supplementation. The effects may last one to six months, depending on lifestyle factors and personal biology. The time it takes for bergamot to work its magic may vary among individuals, and you should consult your healthcare professional about supplementation if you suffer from high cholesterol.

How Much Bergamot Is Necessary?

Determining how much bergamot to take to manage cholesterol levels will depend on a few things. The form of bergamot, such as extract, oil, supplement, the concentration of bergamot, and the individual’s overall health, including underlying conditions. In studies, typical doses ranged from 150 milligrams (mg) to 1,500 mg of extract daily. Unfortunately, the best form of bergamot for managing cholesterol is still unclear. Different forms of the fruit, including extracts, juices, or supplements are the available forms, at least in the clinical studies confirming their efficacy. 

Are There Side Effects?

In certain cases, bergamot may cause side effects, which are detailed below: 

  • Drug interactions: Antibiotics and diabetes medications, in addition to drugs that cause photosensitivity, may negatively interact with bergamot. As stated earlier in this article, some studies suggest that bergamot extract may enhance statin effects. Combining bergamot with other medications, however, could intensify their effects and increase the risk of muscle pain
  • Increased sensitivity to sunlight: Bergamot contains compounds that may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, increasing your risk of skin irritation or sunburn
  • Allergic reactions: Some people are allergic to bergamot, which can result in rash, itching, or difficulty breathing, but this depends on the severity of the allergy. If you are allergic to other citrus fruits, you may want to reconsider bergamot supplementation, or get a food allergy test.



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