Can This Uncommon Fruit Lower Cholesterol?

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bergamot-orangesThis article originally appeared on Live in the Now.

Perhaps you’ve never heard of Bergamot orange, but this citrus fruit offers a unique blend of active ingredients that have been shown to significantly reduce cholesterol levels. And it’s gaining traction and attention in the United States, as many feel it may represent a healthy alternative to statins for those aiming to lower cholesterol levels andĀ strengthen their hearts.

Bergamot orange is a citrus fruit with properties that resemble a cross between an orange, in terms of its size, and a lemon, in regard to its yellow color. Aside from its heart-health benefits, Bergamot is known to have a fragrant, fresh scent, and though originally native to South Asia, it is now most common in southern Italy, where approximately 80 percent of the fruit is currently produced.

Bergamot is also produced for use as an essential oil in aromatherapy, particularly in Ivory Coast, and has been described as uplifting, energizing and calming. In fact, Bergamot essential oil is a common ingredient in many fragrances for both men and women.

Health Benefits of Bergamot Orange

Bergamot offers a variety of cardiovascular health benefits, stemming from its five active ingredients — neoeriocitrin, naringin, neohesperidin, melitidine and bruteridine — and the fact that it blocks a key enzyme in cholesterol production. More specifically, bergamot works to improve cardiovascular health by reducing total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, while increasing HDL cholesterol and lowering triglycerides.

The citrus fruit has also been shown to reduce blood glucose levels, making it a helpful supplement for diabetics. Best of all, bergamot is a natural substance, and therefore does not come with a risk of the harmful side effects that are present with statins. Bergamot has even been shown to promote healthy weight loss.

How is Bergamot Orange Consumed?

Bergamot orange is generally not grown for juice consumption, as it is very sour and bitter; the fruit is not typically eaten in its natural form. However, this fruit is rather versatile and may be consumed in a variety of ways, including as a flavor for tea, as a marmalade in both Italy and Turkey, in some dessert recipes, and more recently, as the primary ingredient of a commercial fruit juice. Bergamot is even used as a key ingredient to flavor snus, a smokeless tobacco product, which is particularly common in Scandinavia.

Where to Find Bergamot Orange

In the United States, bergamot is most commonly taken as a dietary supplement in capsule form. There are a variety of dietary supplements that feature or contain bergamot available commercially, both online and in health stores. In addition, bergamot is also being marketed as a drink, under the name Bergamonte, with testimonial evidence pointing to impressive results. Of course, bergamot can also be used in teas, marmalades and desserts, as previously described.

If you have or are at risk of high cholesterol or poor cardiovascular health, and especially if you are on a statin, consider supplementing your diet with bergamot. As always, it is wise to consult a physician regarding these decisions, but bergamot may represent a healthy alternative solution for those seeking to improve their cardiovascular health.

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