Can Bergamot Lower Cholesterol?

Can Bergamot Lower Cholesterol?
06.02.2024

Bergamot, containing compounds such as polyphenols and flavonoids, may reduce total cholesterol and triglycerides while potentially increasing good (HDL) cholesterol.

The bergamot, a citrus fruit primarily found in Southern Italy’s Calabria region, has a long history in traditional Italian medicine for treating fever and infections.

Today, some research has backed the fruit’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, demonstrating its potentially beneficial cholesterol-lowering properties.

Can bergamot improve cholesterol?

Clinical trials have demonstrated that orally administered bergamot in various forms may reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Lab studies suggest that bergamot’s polyphenols may influence specific enzymes related to cholesterol metabolism.

A systematic review of 12 studies found that bergamot supplementation resulted in the following:

  • Total cholesterol decrease: ranged from 12.3% to 31.3%
  • LDL cholesterol decrease: ranged from 7.6% to 40.8%
  • Triglycerides decrease: ranged from 11.5% to 39.5%

Eight trials also showed increased HDL cholesterol levels after bergamot intervention. The studies indicated a potential dose-dependent effect and synergy with statins, offering a possible alternative for dyslipidemia management, especially in statin-intolerant individuals.

In one study, researchers discovered that although bergamot fruit extract (BFE) didn’t directly block an enzyme involved in making cholesterol, it reduced the overall cholesterol levels in liver cells and limited cholesterol absorption in intestinal cells.

Specifically, one component found in BFE, called neohesperidin, decreased the activity of an enzyme responsible for cholesterol production while boosting the function of another enzyme associated with cholesterol control.

Another component, brutieridin, curbed cholesterol absorption in intestinal cells by influencing a key protein that transports cholesterol.

How long does it take for bergamot to lower cholesterol?

Clinical studies have shown reductions in cholesterol levels after several weeks of regular supplementation. The clinical trials typically lasted 1–6 months.

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However, the time it takes for bergamot or its extracts to lower cholesterol levels can vary among individuals.

What form of bergamot is best for cholesterol?

The best form of bergamot for managing cholesterol levels isn’t definitively established. Different forms, such as bergamot fruit extracts, supplements, or juices, have been used in clinical studies and have shown potential in reducing cholesterol.

How much bergamot should you take for cholesterol?

Determining the exact amount of bergamot to take for cholesterol management can vary based on several factors, including the form of bergamot (extract, oil, supplement), its concentration, and individual health conditions.

Typical doses in studies examining bergamot’s cholesterol-lowering effects have ranged from around 150 milligrams (mg) to 1500 mg of extract daily.

Potential side effects of bergamot

Bergamot usage might cause side effects in certain cases. Possible side effects can include:

  • Increased sensitivity to sunlight: Bergamot contains compounds that can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, potentially increasing the risk of sunburn or skin irritation.
  • Drug interactions: Bergamot may interact with drugs that cause photosensitivity, as well as certain antibiotics and diabetes medications. While some studies suggest that bergamot extract may enhance statin effects, combining them could intensify their effects and raise the risk of muscle pain (myopathy).
  • Allergic reactions: Some people may have allergic reactions to bergamot, resulting in symptoms like rash, itching, or difficulty breathing.

It’s important to consult a healthcare professional before using bergamot supplements, especially if you’re taking any medications.

Who should not take bergamot?

Individuals with specific conditions or circumstances should use caution or avoid bergamot supplements:

  • Pregnant or nursing people: There isn’t enough reliable information about the safety of bergamot supplements during pregnancy or nursing. It’s advisable to speak with a healthcare professional before taking bergamot.
  • Children: Bergamot supplements aren’t recommended for children, as their safety and appropriate dosages haven’t been well-established for this age group.
  • Sun-sensitive individuals: Bergamot can increase skin sensitivity to sunlight. Those prone to sunburn or photosensitivity should be cautious when using bergamot.
  • Individuals taking certain medications: Bergamot may interact with or enhance certain medications, especially statins used for lowering cholesterol.
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Takeaway Note

Research has indicated that orally administered bergamot may be beneficial in reducing total cholesterol. It’s advised you speak with a healthcare professional before taking bergamot, as there are potential side effects associated with bergamot, especially for certain populations.

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