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Does bergamot lower cholesterol?

New studies suggest an extract from the citrus fruit may reduce cholesterol, but more, independent studies, are needed.

Did Earl Grey live until 81 despite a fatty British diet because of his penchant for sipping the tea that’s come to be named after him? New research suggests that bergamot, a citrus fruit and an ingredient in Earl Grey tea, may lower cholesterol.

The research suggests an extract from the bergamot orange (which is actually yellow), reduces cholesterol without the nasty side effects caused by some statin drugs, reports the Wall Street Journal. Bergamot is packed with flavonoids.

The Journal notes four human studies published or presented at scientific meetings. The article notes, however, that much of the work is by a group of Italian researchers who work closely with a company that sells the extract.

“The data looks very good,” David Frid, a staff physician in the section of preventive cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, tells the Journal. “But it would be beneficial for this to be reproduced [by another research group] in order to say that in fact this is a true cholesterol-lowering effect.”

A study published in International Journal of Cardiology in 2013, suggested that 1,000 milligrams of bergamot taken daily for a month lowered cholesterol from an average of 278 milligrams per deciliter of blood to 191. The study also suggested that the bergamot boosted the potency of the statin drug when the two were taken together.

The power of bergamot is woven through history and literature though perhaps not regarding cholesterol. It’s a key ingredient in Turkish delight, the treat that bewitched poor Edmund in “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.” As for Lord Grey, perhaps it was the bergamot that kept him young. Or perhaps it was fatherhood, the British Prime Minister had 16 children.


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