Cholesterol is often the target of negative comments and derogatory discussion. This is facilitated by the fact that high cholesterol is closely related to increased risk of heart disease – learn about the most common causes of heart disease here. However, not all cholesterol is harmful. It is actually necessary for important bodily functions such as hormone and vitamin D production.
As with many substances in the body, it’s all a question of appropriate balance. Maintaining the correct levels of the right type of cholesterol is an important aspect of health. To succeed in managing cholesterol, you must understand the different types and familiarize yourself with effective approaches to regulating them.
There are two primary forms of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Lipoproteins act as vehicles for cholesterol transport and are constructed from fat (lipids) and protein. Therefore, it may not be surprising that many protein rich and fatty foods tend to have more cholesterol. Understanding and appreciating the differences between HDL and LDL can help you achieve better cholesterol equilibrium.
HDL (Good Cholesterol)
Many people refer to HDL as “good cholesterol” because it promotes transport of cholesterol to the liver so it can be safely expelled. HDL helps regulate cholesterol levels so there is less risk of arterial accumulation.
LDL (Bad Cholesterol)
LDL or “bad cholesterol” delivers cholesterol to the arteries where build up and congestion can occur. Excess cholesterol found in the arteries can cause atherosclerosis (accumulation of arterial plaque). This increases the risk of blood clots and subsequently heart attack and stroke.
Plaque buildup may inhibit blood flow and oxygen transport to other important organs as well. Oxygen deficiency can result in kidney disease, peripheral arterial disease and inhibited organ functionality.
The Centers for Disease Control state that over 31 percent of Americans have elevated LDL levels. Many are unaware of their increased cholesterol level because symptoms are frequently difficult to identify unless there is significant build up. It is common for cholesterol levels to go unnoticed until patients begin experiencing significant issues such as heart disease.
Big Benefits of Bergamot
Medication and supplementation are common approaches to treating high cholesterol. The most common medications used are statins, which may also be recommended as a preventative measure for heart disease. Statins act on cholesterol levels by limiting cholesterol production in the liver, thereby reducing the total amount in the body.
Even though statins are perhaps the most frequently prescribed cholesterol medication, they are associated with numerous side effects including muscle pain, liver damage and neurological dysfunction – learn more about the dangerous side effects of statins here. Fortunately, there may be a less damaging alternative.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Natural Products found that bergamot provides benefits similar to statins with fewer drawbacks. Other studies exemplify the exceptional benefits of bergamot extract as an antifungal, ulcer combatant, and stress reliever.
Human and animal studies have shown that bergamot extract also has anti-hyperlipidemia qualities meaning that it removes extraneous lipids within the blood. This is beneficial as it reduces the risk of developing hyperlipidemia, which is frequently a precursor to atherosclerosis and subsequent heart attack and stroke.
Bergamot’s Cholesterol Combatants
The main cholesterol influencing elements found in bergamot are natural compounds known as bruteridine and melitidine. These two substances are flavone glycosides, which are natural antioxidants found in various plants, herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Flavone glycosides are noted for a wide array of benefits ranging from cancer prevention to bolstering brain function. Bergamot extract contains an exceptionally high level of these two substances, which allows it to better impact cholesterol levels.
Multiple studies have shown that bergamot is able to reduce LDL cholesterol while improving HDL levels. Furthermore, it may support liver protection and blood sugar regulation.
One study published in 2013 in the International Journal of Cardiology documented bergamot’s impressive impact on cholesterol. During the study, 77 patients took 1,000 milligrams of bergamot extract on a daily basis for a month. The LDL levels of these patients decreased from a group average of 278 milligram per deciliter of blood to 191. It was further reported that patients who were taking the statin drug Rosuvastatin during the study were able to reduce their dosage by half without loss of efficacy by using bergamot extract.
Is Bergamot Safe?
Except for a handful of outlying concerns, bergamot extract has few known drawbacks. For example, it is best to avoid taking bergamot extract orally if there is a preexisting potassium deficiency. Bergamot can deplete potassium stores resulting in muscle cramps and twitching. Another noted side effect of bergamot extract is an increased occurrence of heart burn.
Bergamot extract in pill form should be kept out of direct sunlight as exposure can turn the extract into a toxic compound. A supplement containing bergamot is less likely to be affected but should still be stored in a cool dark space such as a cupboard or cabinet.
Bergamot supplementation is safe under most circumstances. However, as with any treatment or medication, it is best to convene with a trusted physician before starting any new regimen.
Helping the Heart by Regulating Cholesterol
Heart health is a major concern in the United States as heart disease is the leading cause of mortality. Regulating cholesterol can do a great deal in preventing cardiovascular disease and improving heart function. Healthy supplementation with a product containing all the benefits of bergamot extract can support heart health.
Heart Solution + is a supplement produced by HoltraCeuticals that is specifically formulated to safeguard cardiovascular health through a combination of various antioxidants, inflammatory-reducing agents, and bergamot. The inclusion of bergamot, and therefore bruteridine and melitidine, in this product supports greater cholesterol balance and regulation while avoiding the known side effects associated with statins.
In an additional effort to support heart health, you should consider assessing your diet. Proper diet and eating habits is a major component of cholesterol maintenance. Dietary factors such as elevated consumption of saturated fats, trans fats, and processed foods are tied to both poor health and increased cholesterol levels. Making appropriate lifestyle changes and being intentional about your diet can help keep cholesterol levels balanced.
High Hopes for Lower Cholesterol
Even though more research and review must be done regarding bergamot, the initial findings present an exciting correlation between heart health and bergamot supplementation. There are many reviewed and published studies that have already validated the benefits of different aspects of bergamot such as bruteridine and melitidine.
With research continuing to be done on bergamot and previous studies already suggesting its positive impact on cholesterol balance, it appears that bergamot extract may become a widely utilized tool for managing cholesterol. Speak with your physician to see if supplementation with bergamot extract is right for you!
Watch Holtorf Medical Group’s Facebook LIVE event on Thursday, February 15th at 2pm PST for even more information on cholesterol and a heart-healthy diet.