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Potential Health Benefits of Bergamot

bergamot health benefits

The potential health benefits of bergamot, a citrus fruit native to southern Italy, are not a new discovery. This unique citrus fruit has been used in Italian folk medicine and other natural health traditions for centuries. But today, as the fruit’s popularity spreads, researchers are learning that there is indeed evidence that supports the use of bergamot in certain clinical applications.

About Bergamot

Citrus bergamot is a hybrid between a lemon and a sour orange. Its intense, powerful, and distinct flavor is prized by chefs, who take advantage of the fruit’s high acidity and bitterness to add textured flavor to dishes that call for citrus. Tea drinkers may be familiar with bergamot’s complex flavor profile, which is featured in Earl Grey tea.

But bergamot’s applications extend beyond the kitchen. Bergamot has been used in folk medicine traditions since the 1700s for its balsamic and medicinal properties.

Experimental observations about the potential health benefits of bergamot can be traced back to 1800 when Doctor Francesco Calabrò first began reporting on bergamot’s anti-infectious and healing properties. His report detailed the ways bergamot was used in folk medicine at the time, purported to reduce fevers, lower inflammation, and treat wounds, burns, varicose veins, furunculosis (a deep infection of hair follicles), and toothaches.

In the next century, bergamot oil was also used as a sedative, a scabies treatment, and to treat and prevent malaria. In 1932, evidence emerged to support the potential use of bergamot as a surgical antiseptic.

Bergamot and Cholesterol

Today, much of the current research into the potential health benefits of bergamot is focused on the effect that bergamot may have on high cholesterol markers and cardiac disease. Research indicates that compounds found in bergamot, particularly in Bergamot oils and juices, may help reduce total cholesterol, “bad” cholesterol (LDL), and triglycerides – while at the same time increasing good cholesterol (HDL).

A randomized, placebo-controlled study published in the International Journal of Cardiology showed a significant reduction in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in a group that was given a bergamot-derived supplement. Additional studies have noted similar findings.

Bergamot’s potential ability to help lower overall cholesterol and bad cholesterol, while raising good cholesterol, has several positive health implications. Cholesterol and lipid levels are key biomarkers associated with cardiovascular disease risk. By having a positive effect on cholesterol and lipid levels, bergamot may therefore also promote cardiovascular health. Other researchers have found that bergamot may also decrease arrhythmia risk and reduce arterial stiffness, further supporting heart health.

Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Activity

Citrus bergamot is rich in antioxidants, such as flavonoids and polyphenols, which are known for their ability to help combat oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. Studies have shown that these compounds can protect cells from damage and reduce inflammation in the body, which may help to slow the aging process, protect against certain chronic diseases or conditions, and support overall health and well-being.

Additional Applications

Some research is beginning to examine the other possible health applications of bergamot, ranging from its potential to help regulate blood sugar levels, slow tumor growth, and more. Bergamot essential oil can be used in aromatherapy or in perfumes with a carrier oil. Your healthcare professional or a certified nutritionist can answer any questions you may have.

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