Bergamot contains natural substances that may be beneficial for health. Some evidence suggests it can help lower cholesterol.

Also known as Citrus bergamia, bergamot is a yellow citrus fruit that grows primarily in Calabria, Italy. Traditional Italian medicine uses bergamot as a treatment for a range of symptoms, including fevers, sore throats, and infections. The fruit contains phytochemicals, flavonoids, and other compounds that may offer several health benefits, such as helping to lower a person’s cholesterol.

In this article, we discuss whether bergamot can help control cholesterol and how people can lower their cholesterol levels.

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Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is present in every cell of the body. It has important natural functions, such as building cells, generating vitamin D, and producing hormones. The body can produce cholesterol, but people also consume it in food. While it is an important substance, too much cholesterol can pose a problem.

There are two main types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which some people refer to as “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which some refer to as “good” cholesterol. LDL can accumulate in arteries and increase the risk of heart disease. However, HDL cholesterol transports cholesterol to the liver for removal.

With this in mind, a person may regard medications, supplements, or certain lifestyle behaviors as helpful in managing their cholesterol levels. Some evidence suggests bergamot can help reduce LDL levels and total cholesterol. While more studies are necessary, the same research indicates that bergamot may also help to increase HDL levels.

Bergamot contains high levels of flavonoids. Flavonoids are associated with many properties that can benefit a person’s health, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In particular, bergamot contains neohesperidin and naringin, which can bind with an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase.

This enzyme is involved in the production of cholesterol. Binding to it can interrupt cholesterol production and may reduce cholesterol levels. This process is similar to the function of statins, a medication that aims to lower LDL.

Additionally, a 2022 paper notes that bergamot extract can effectively lower cholesterol levels when combined with artichoke leaf extract. Researchers found that not only was this combination effective, it also resulted in lower cholesterol levels for people who did not respond to bergamot extract on its own.

A 2019 systematic review suggests bergamot may help with cholesterol management, especially in individuals with statin intolerance. However, while bergamot appears promising as a treatment for high cholesterol, further research is necessary into how it may influence cholesterol in the human body.

A doctor can measure a person’s cholesterol through a blood test called a lipid panel or lipid profile. A person may need to avoid eating 9–12 hours before this test to ensure accurate results. They will still be able to drink water but may wish to have their test in the morning so that they can fast overnight.

Below is a set of tables with the desirable ranges of cholesterol levels, as well as results a doctor may consider borderline and high. The results record cholesterol levels in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

LDL cholesterol (mg/dL) Interpretation of result
less than 100 desirable
130–159 borderline high
160 and above high

HDL cholesterol (mg/dL) Interpretation of result
less than 40 low
60 and above high

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults check their cholesterol levels every 4–6 years. A person with diabetes, heart disease, or a family history of high cholesterol may require more frequent testing.

Click here to learn more about cholesterol levels by age.

There are several medications a doctor may prescribe to lower cholesterol, such as statins, bile acid sequestrants, and injectable medications called PCSK9 inhibitors.

If a person wishes to lower their cholesterol without medications, they can try to incorporate the following lifestyle changes:

  • Eating a varied diet: A person can lower their cholesterol by reducing their consumption of saturated fats and trans fats, limiting or avoiding heavily processed foods, and opting for whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Exercising regularly: Lower levels of exercise can lead to lower levels of HDL cholesterol. Evidence indicates that frequent anaerobic exercise can help boost HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Quitting smoking: Smoking cigarettes, as well as vaping, can lower a person’s HDL cholesterol and, in turn, raise their LDL cholesterol.
  • Managing weight: Higher levels of body fat tend to raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. Research suggests that managing weight can have significant improvements in cholesterol levels. A person can consult a doctor to discuss whether their weight may contribute to their cholesterol levels and steps they can take to lower these levels.

Click here to learn more about reducing cholesterol.

Bergamot is a citrus fruit that may offer a range of health benefits. Some research suggests it can have a positive impact on a person’s cholesterol levels. However, further research in humans is necessary to help understand the role it plays in cholesterol management.

Other natural methods, such as regular exercise and a varied eating plan, can help people control their cholesterol levels.