Nothing fuels a passion for wellness like a personal health issue. Naomi Whittel was born on an organic biodynamic farm, owns a namesake line of nutracuticals and has been an avid proponent of preventative medicine for her entire life. She’s a New York Times best-selling author on wellness and is named by Prevention as the leading female innovator in the natural products industry. So when she discovered that she had a hereditary predisposition to high cholesterol, she was — obviously — determined to use natural preventative medicine.
We’re nerding out on citrus fruit bergamot below — an Italian cross between a lemon and an orange whose oil you find in a classic cup of earl grey tea. Naomi is unpacking the science on the fruit, traditionally used for heart health for centuries and now showing scientific promise for cholesterol thanks to new clinical studies.
Peruse Naomi’s notes for a ‘101’ on cholesterol if you’re looking to catch up on the topic. First, our list of bergamot’s benefits which extend beyond heart health to anti-inflammatory and autophagy-boosting benefits. Here’s Naomi…
Bergamot is the citrus plant with the highest amount of flavonoids altogether. Why does that matter? Numerous scientific studies have shown that the bergamot fruit can actually help raise HDL levels, lower LDL cholesterol levels and balance blood sugars all within the normal range.
Grown primarily in Calabria, Italy, it has a long history in traditional healing, lauded for its youth-boosting polyphenols – flavonoids, in particular – and cherished for its support in fighting inflammation and promoting cardiovascular health.
The people in Calabria, Italy, make tea out of it and make a supplement from it. Research found that people in the region often maintained healthy cholesterol levels and plaque-free arteries – despite a diet rich in fat which is why they decided to put Citrus Bergamot to a standardized test.
Recent clinical research now reinforces what Calabrians have experienced for generations: citrus bergamot supports cardiovascular health by lowering bad LDL cholesterol, cutting dangerous triglycerides, raising beneficial HDL cholesterol and balancing blood sugar levels.
In a trial led by Professor of Cardiology, Dr. Vincenzo Mollace of Magna Graecia University, participants were given 500 mg of Bergamonte®, a patented form of bergamot extract daily. In 30 days:
+ Total cholesterol fell 21%
+ LDL cholesterol dropped 24%
+ Good HDL cholesterol jumped 22%
+ Triglycerides lowered by 29%
+ Blood sugar levels dropped 18%
When researchers doubled the daily dose to 1,000 mg, the results were even better – a boon for people who might more support controlling cholesterol levels:
+ LDL cholesterol plunged 36%
+ Good HDL Cholesterol jumped 40%
+ Triglycerides dropped 38%
+ Blood sugar levels fell 22%
Bergamot can lower cholesterol | In my late 20s, I found out that I was genetically predisposed to high cholesterol. Citrus bergamot works by balancing your good cholesterol, the HDL level, while helping to naturally reduce the bad cholesterol, your LDL.*
Bergamot is highly anti-inflammatory, and it is thought that anti-inflammatories have a powerful influence on the quality of the particle size of LDL cholesterol. Scientists and cardiologists understand that the size of your cholesterol particles may have more to do with heart disease than the quantity of them.
Citrus bergamot is a natural way to reduce the size of the LDL particle, making it smaller, fluffier and lighter, so it’s not as dense (meaning that it’s less likely to clog up your arteries).[*][*]
Bergamot is rich in Polyphenol flavonoids | Citrus bergamot’s power lies the polyphenols that it contains. Polyphenols help support against oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, balance blood sugar, and support healthy cholesterol levels. Two very special constituents, in particular, melitidin and brutieridin, discourage the production of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, while helping your body make HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Polyphenols, especially flavonoids like the ones found in bergamot, can improve overall cardiovascular health. For example, a review of studies showed that the flavonoids found in bergamot can increase good HDL levels and reduce triglyceride levels in the liver.[*][*] Researchers have found that compounds extracted from the peel act in a similar way to statins (a drug that’s used to reduce cholesterol).[*] Another study shows that citrus bergamot led to a 30-percent reduction in bad cholesterol and a 40-percent increase in good cholesterol, as well as a 40-percent drop in triglycerides and a 20-percent decrease in blood glucose.[*]
Bergamot activates autophagy | Autophagy is the process that allows your cells to repair themselves and help keep you young. A dysfunction in autophagy has been linked to nearly every one of our most serious age-related health issues – especially those impacting the heart and brain.*
It’s the flavonoid-rich bergamot peel that activates autophagy – the body’s self-cleaning and anti-aging mechanism. The peel’s main compound, limonene, triggers the process – acting like a cellular traffic light that gives your body the go ahead to start the process.
Research has shown that citrus bergamot can help trigger autophagy in various parts of the body, including the skin and liver. And it has also been demonstrated that Bergamot may even activate autophagy to help fight against some of the most serious health issues women face today.
Bergamot has more antioxidant properties than any other citrus fruit in the world. That’s important because oxidative stress is linked to many age-related health issues. The antioxidants in bergamot (technically, citrus bergamia) have an effect on scavenging the free radicals caused by oxidative stress.* They do this by absorbing and neutralizing the free radical. Citrus bergamot has two polyphenols that are particularly effective against oxidative stress and inflammation: melitidin and brutieridin.*
Some research indicates that it helps lower the risk factors associated with blood sugar issues. It improves the health and function of your blood vessels, allowing your body to function more efficiently. That’s good for your overall health and lowering risk factors associated with being overweight.*
A simple way to enjoy bergamot is the classic pairing of earl grey tea. Verify that the tea is made with real bergamot extract, as opposed to synthetic fragrances, which have zero therapeutic effect. I drink this tea all the time, and I not only love the taste, but also love that I know it is having such a positive effect on my body—and helping keep me young.
You can also purchase the oil extract or bergamot essential oil to flavor salad dressings, sauces or desserts, (much like you would vanilla or almond extract).
But the easiest way to get a therapeutic dose of bergamot extract is in supplement form. Ours supplies 500 mg of bergamot, the equivalent of one whole fruit, peel and all. This is the way to reap the most medicinal benefit from bergamot as shown in the study above.
Cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn On High Cholesterol
The dangers of high cholesterol are not “fake news”. Heart issues are the number one cause of death in the U.S – 647,000 Americans die from them each year.* The leading cause of serious heart problems? Narrowing, or blockage of coronary arteries. The primary culprit? Plaque caused by unchecked build-up of cholesterol.*
Top cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn states:
“Recent studies confirm that people with the lowest incidences of serious heart problems and the longest life spans have blood cholesterol values lower than 150 mg/dL, more than enough cholesterol for brain and hormone function but not so much as to clog up arteries.”*
And good cardiovascular health is not just about cholesterol levels –you need to be concerned about high blood sugar levels as well.
Over time, high blood sugar creates enormous inflammatory stress that exacerbates damage to your arteries. That’s why controlling your sugar levels – along with cholesterol – is one of the very best things you can do for your heart.*
If you’re concerned about the dangers of high cholesterol, Citrus Bergamot offers a simple, all-natural way to promote wellness.
NAOMI Italian Citrus Bergamot contains 500 mg of Bergamonte, a scientific Citrus Bergamot formula featuring Bergamonte® which meets my exacting standards for quality and purity – and one of the few natural substances ever awarded a U.S. patent. It’s standardized to an incredibly potent 38% polyphenolic flavonoids and produced using patented extraction technology.
Each 500 mg capsule contains the equivalent of an entire bergamot orange. With the easy-to-swallow 500 mg capsule, it’s simple to double your daily dose to 1000 mg should you seek a higher level of support. Naomi Bergamot is fortified with a proprietary Resveratrol Complex Blend and enhanced with 100 mg of Olive Fruit Extract, a compound found to inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which triggers atherosclerosis – or “hardening of the arteries”.*
Boost your beneficial HDL cholesterol*
Cut your triglycerides*
Help balance your blood sugar, as well*
Get the support you need for healthier blood vessels*
Help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in your blood stream*
- Ross Walker, Elzbieta Janda and Vincenzo Mollace. The Use of Bergamot-derived Polyphenol Fraction in Cardiometabolic Risk Prevention and its Possible Mechanisms of Action. Cardiac Health and Polyphenols. Chp 84, Pg 1085-1103, 2014
- Micaela Gliozzi, Ross Walker, Elzbjeta Janda, Vincenzo Mollace. Bergamot polyphenolic fraction enhances rosuvastatin-induced effect on LDLcholesterol, LOX-1 expression and Protein Kinase B phosphorylation in patients with hyperlipidemia. International Journal of Cardiology Dec 2013, 170(2):140-5
- Vincenzo Mollace, Iolanda Sacco, Elzbieta Janda, Claudio Malara, Domenica Ventrice, Carmen Colica, Valeria Visalli, Saverio Muscoli. Hypolipemic and hypoglycaemic activity of bergamot polyphenols: From animal models to human studies. Fitoterapia 82 (2011) 309–316
- Celia C, Trapasso E, Locatelli M, Navarra M, Ventura CA, Wolfram J, Carafa M, Morittu VM, Britti D, Di Marzio L.. Anticancer activity of liposomal bergamot essential oil (BEO) on human neuroblastoma cells. Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2013 Dec 1;112:548-53
- Delle Monache S, Sanità P, Trapasso E, Ursino MR, Dugo P, Russo M, Ferlazzo N, Calapai G, Angelucci A, Navarra M. Mechanisms underlying the anti-tumoral effects of Citrus Bergamia juice. PLoS One. 2013 Apr 16;8(4)
- Kang P, Suh SH, Min SS, Seol GH. The essential oil of Citrus bergamia Risso induces vasorelaxation of the mouse aorta by activating K(+) channels and inhibiting Ca(2+) influx. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2013 May;65(5):745-9
- Leopoldini M, Malaj N, Toscano M, Sindona G, Russo N. On the inhibitor effects of bergamot juice flavonoids binding to the 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGR) enzyme. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Oct 13;58(19):10768-73
- Di Donna L, De Luca G, Mazzotti F, Napoli A, Salerno R, Taverna D, Sindona G. Statin-like principles of bergamot fruit (Citrus bergamia): isolation of 3-hydroxymethylglutaryl flavonoid glycosides. J Nat Prod. 2009 Jul;72(7):1352-4
- Mollace V, Ragusa S, Sacco I, Muscoli C, Sculco F, Visalli V, Palma E. The protective effect of bergamot oil extract on lecitine-like oxyLDL receptor-1 expression in balloon injury-related neointima formation. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2008 Jun;13(2):120-9
- Natalizia Miceli, Maria Mondello, Maria Mondorte, Vasileios Sdrafkakis, Paola Dugo, Maria Crupi. Hypolipidemic effects of bergamot juice in rats Fed a Hypercholesterolemic Diet. J. Agric. Food Chem., Vol. 55, No. 26, 2007
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