Citrus Bergamot: The “Superfruit” for Cholesterol, Aging, and More
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In the southernmost tip of Italy lies the enchanting and mountainous region of Calabria—the birthplace of the rare and powerful citrus bergamot. In my quest to find and source only the purest, finest ingredients to support wellness and beauty, I first traveled there eight years ago to learn more about the fruit known to promote heart health and longevity.
Secondly, because I have genetically high cholesterol, I was also very interested in two things: learning more about the citrus bergamot-cholesterol connection and determining how I could bring this incredible fruit to other regions of the world in the form of NAOMI Citrus Bergamot.
What I discovered did not disappoint ….
What Is Citrus Bergamot?
Sometimes simply referred to as bergamot, citrus bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is a powerful fruit grown almost exclusively in Calabria due to its perfect and steady climate and mineral-rich soil.
Derived from the Turkish word meaning “prince’s pear,” bergamot is an aromatic citrus fruit that looks like a cross between an orange and a lemon.
Citrus bergamot tastes as delicious as it looks and smells, but it does have a sweet yet bitter taste when eaten raw. As a result, citrus bergamot typically isn’t ingested as other fruit would be.
Instead, it’s often used in essential oil form, which is produced from the peel. And it actually takes about 100 citrus bergamot fruits to produce just 3 ounces of bergamot oil!
Alternatively, it can also be consumed within other foods and beverages, such as in juices, teas (serving as the flavoring agent in Earl Grey tea), and even baked goods.
In fact, when I interviewed a fourth-generation farmer of this incredible fruit, I learned that his family used up to one citrus bergamot fruit per person each day to support their cardiovascular health for several generations.
Types of Bergamot
One common question that often comes up is this: Is there a difference between citrus bergamot and bergamot? And the answer is yes, absolutely!
Bergamot herbs are very different from bergamot fruit, which is sometimes referred to as a bergamot orange.
Ornamental perennials native to North America, bergamot herbs are primarily grown to attract hummingbirds and certain insects such as bees. And while their leaves were historically used to flavor beverages, the herbs don’t offer the same health-supporting benefits of the citrus bergamot.
Accordingly, going forward, all mentions of bergamot will refer exclusively to citrus bergamot.
4 Health Benefits of Citrus Bergamot
Now, you may be asking yourself: What is citrus bergamot good for?
Historically, this bergamot was used in many different cultures as a natural remedy for a variety of conditions.
Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners used it to improve vital energy—primarily to support healthy digestion.
Meanwhile, Italians used citrus bergamot benefits for proper digestion, skin health, and body temperature.
And in Ayurvedic medicine, bergamot oil was commonly used to support the health of skin, the bladder, and the digestive system as well as soothe sore throats and even support mental health.
Today, there are a few specific health benefits linked to the consumption of citrus bergamot. Here are a few of my personal favorite bergamot benefits.
1. Contains antioxidants
Amazingly, citrus bergamot contains more antioxidant properties than any other citrus fruit in the world.
Now, studies have shown that antioxidants help to neutralize the free radicals that ultimately result in oxidative stress.
This is important to note because oxidative stress is linked to many age-related health problems, such as poor heart health, inflammation, high blood sugar levels, joint discomfort, obesity, and more.
Due to these powerful effects, it’s the flavanols and polyphenols in citrus bergamot that provide its many health-supporting benefits.
2. Supports cardiovascular health
Perhaps one of the most exciting citrus bergamot benefits is that it can help support heart health.
Research has shown that polyphenols like those found in bergamot support healthy cholesterol levels.
But that’s not all: Studies have found that the very flavonoids found in citrus bergamot supports a healthy HDL (good cholesterol) to triglyceride ratio. This is incredibly relevant because recent research has shown that the ratio of HDL to triglycerides is five times more predictive of heart attack risk than the level of LDL.
Amazingly, citrus bergamot benefits also extend to maintaining a healthy balance in your HDL and LDL levels along with supporting healthy blood sugar levels, according to studies.
As you may recall, I first became interested in learning about citrus bergamot for cholesterol after I was diagnosed with high cholesterol in my late 20s. Thanks to this discovery, I felt comfortable choosing to avoid using statins (a drug used to reduce cholesterol that comes with a myriad of undesired side effects).
3. Supports autophagy
One of the most amazing citrus bergamot benefits that I learned during my time in Calabria is that the potent, flavonoid-rich bergamot peel activates autophagy.
It was the first time I had ever heard the word, and it started me on my journey to learn more about the biology and power of autophagy.
Autophagy is the cellular process that allows your body to repair and rejuvenate.
Amazingly, the main compound in citrus bergamot essential oil—limonene—has been scientifically shown to stimulate autophagy. This happens through a process in which a protein is signaled to start autophagy—much like a cellular traffic light that gives your body the go ahead to proceed.
Personally, I’ve found that activating autophagy can impact everything from how I look to how I feel and even act. It’s such an important part of my health regimen that I wrote an entire book about it, titled Glow15.
4. May aid in cooling inflammation
Inflammation is linked to many of the chronic diseases on the rise in the world today. So imagine my excitement when I learned that bergamot has the ability to help target this inflammation!
In regards to how it works, animal studies have shown that citrus bergamot targeted inflammation by increasing specific inflammation-fighting agents.
Other researchers have noted that bergamot contains molecules known to inhibit proteins that can have pro-inflammatory effects on the body.
Citrus Bergamot Supplement
At this point, you may be wondering where to buy citrus bergamot—and with good reason!
While farmers who grow this powerful fruit often eat it raw or drink its juice for health-supporting effects, citrus bergamot isn’t available around the world.
And because I believe it’s one of the most powerful foods I have ever come across, one I’ve come to term a “superfruit,” I knew I had to look for other methods of consumption to share with the world.
Outside of Calabria, Italy, the only way you can consume citrus bergamot is in capsule form, but these capsules aren’t harnessing the power of the entire fruit.
That’s where my citrus bergamot supplement factors into the equation.
While most bergamot supplements contain a standardized citrus bergamot extract, my bergamot supplement harnesses the whole fruit to provide an array of nutrients and polyphenols—something I’ve termed Full Spectrum Whole Fruit Technology.
If you’re looking to begin taking a bergamot supplement, make sure to choose one that contains 500 mg of bergamot, which is the equivalent of eating one fruit.
This is the exact amount I’ve included in NAOMI Citrus Bergamot, which was formulated with the exact amount and exact source used in the clinical research that produced the incredible cardiovascular health benefits, including the healthy HDL to triglyceride ratio, the healthy balance in HDL and LDL, and more!
But that’s not all. The NAOMI Citrus Bergamot also contains a proprietary blend of resveratrol and olive leaf extract to further support cardiovascular health, including healthy cholesterol levels.
In order to have the very best citrus bergamot supplement possible, it needed to come as close to consuming the whole fruit as you can get, or as I like to say, from orchard to bottle.
Precautions and Side Effects
One of the common questions I receive is regarding the side effects of citrus bergamot.
When it comes to citrus bergamot side effects, the truth is that there really aren’t many, making it a supplement worth discussing with your physician.
One potential side effect worth noting, though, is its impact on blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes or are prone to episodes of hypoglycemia, it’s important to discuss how to best use citrus bergamot with your doctor before consuming it.
- Citrus bergamot is an aromatic citrus fruit grown in Calabria, Italy known to help support cardiovascular health and, specifically, for supporting healthy cholesterol levels.
- Commonly used in Earl Grey tea and in essential oil form, the whole fruit offers incredible health benefits.
- Citrus bergamot health benefits stem from its powerful antioxidant properties, with bergamot containing more antioxidants than any other citrus fruit in the world.
- Some of the top health benefits include supporting cardiovascular health (including supporting healthy HDL to triglyceride levels), autophagy, and anti-inflammatory actions.
- Currently, the only way to consume the equivalent of the whole fruit is via NAOMI Citrus Bergamot, in which one capsule equals one fruit!