The risks of high cholesterol are no secret. Having cholesterol above the desired range increases your risk for heart disease, making you more susceptible for heart attack and stroke.
While high cholesterol can be genetic, it’s predominantly caused by the diet. A poor diet lacking in healthful foods and rich in harmful fats coupled with infrequent exercise can cause cholesterol, a waxy substance, to build up within the body. For this reason, making certain lifestyle changes can make a huge impact on your cholesterol levels.
A recent batch of studies conducted in Italy now suggests bergamot may be a naturopathic way to support healthy cholesterol.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is a citrus fruit that is yellow in color but the size and shape of an orange. Found in Italy, bergamot fruit grows on trees and isn't edible as is. The juice has a sour taste. If you’re a tea drinker, you’re probably familiar with bergamot — this citrus fruit is often used to flavor tea, namely, Earl Grey tea. It's essential oil is also used in perfume as well as aromatherapy.
Bergamot and Cholesterol
According to the Mayo Clinic, your cholesterol is considered high when it totals 200 mg/dL or more. Your high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol, should be 60 mg/dL or above while your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, should be below 100 mg/dL.
When it comes to regulating your cholesterol, bergamot may be able to prevent plaque from building up in the arteries and causing blockages while also acting similar to statin medications, which inhibit the production of cholesterol by the liver. The studies, which showed daily bergamot supplements lowered bad cholesterol, raised good cholesterol and helped regulate blood sugar levels, attribute these benefits to the abundant presence of flavonoids, or antioxidants, within the fruit. While this is promising news, more research will be needed involving larger groups of human participants before a clear recommendation can be made about dosage and safety.
If you’re interested in trying bergamot as a natural way to support cholesterol, make sure to check with your doctor first, especially if you’re currently on any medication for high cholesterol or heart disease. Don’t make any changes to your current medication or supplement routine without first clearing it with your physician. They can help you determine the proper dosage and duration of treatment if they think a bergamot supplement can benefit you. Bergamot may also impact blood sugar levels and shouldn't be taken by those with diabetes. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn't take bergamot without their physician's approval and supervision.
More Ways to Support Healthy Cholesterol
Managing your cholesterol isn’t a one-size-fits-all matter. There are multiple steps you should take to get your cholesterol into the desired range and keep it there. Start with these:
- Avoid trans and saturated fats as well as processed foods.
- Eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and essential fatty acids.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes five days a week to get your weight to a healthy number. Make sure it’s a combination of cardio and strength training.
- Cut out the soda.
- Go for whole grains instead of white rice and flour.
- Consume alcohol in moderation.
- Quit smoking.
You can find more information on the latest health studies at eVitamins. Check back daily for updates.