foods for heart health

Foods high in fiber and low in fat, such as oats, beans, and green vegetables, typically top the list of heart-healthy foods. When you think about foods for heart health, you probably don’t think of citrus fruit. Like other plant foods, citrus fruit is a source of phytochemicals, which are plant compounds that may exert protective effects on the human body.  

It turns out there’s a type of citrus fruit, called bergamot orange, that’s extra beneficial for well-being because it contains high levels of phytochemicals. In fact, researchers have found bergamot benefits heart health in a number of ways.  

If you’re a tea drinker, you may recognize bergamot as an ingredient in Earl Grey tea that delivers the tea’s unmistakable flavor. If you’ve never had Earl Grey, you may be wondering what bergamot tastes like and where you can find it. 

In this article, we’re sharing everything you need to know about bergamot, including where it comes from, whether you can eat bergamot raw, and how bergamot benefits heart health. 

What Is Bergamot?

Bergamot, or Citrus bergamia, is a type of citrus fruit grown in the southern region of Italy. Bergamot is usually referred to as an orange, but its color more closely resembles lemons or limes and it tastes sour compared to the sweetness of navel oranges found in American grocery stores. 

Fruit extract from the bergamot peel can be added to food, dietary supplements, and personal care products. Oils from the fruit skin are also used to make essential oils for aromatherapy. 

How Bergamot Benefits Health

Researchers have taken note of bergamot’s reported health benefits and have studied the effects of bergamot fruit extract in test tube, animal, and human studies. Scientists have examined how supplementation with bergamot fruit extract impacts various health scenarios, with a special focus on heart health. 

There’s evidence that bergamot fruit extract may help support already healthy lipids levels. Numerous studies have observed reductions in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels after taking an oral bergamot supplement. This is significant since maintaining normal levels of blood lipids is important for good cardiovascular health.

2021 study suggests bergamot fruit extract may have a positive influence on blood cholesterol levels by lowering the absorption of cholesterol from food and inhibiting the production of cholesterol in the liver.

Another consideration for heart and metabolic concerns is the amount of visceral fat stored in your body. Visceral fat is stored deep in the midsection and wraps around organs. A 2021 double-blind study found participants who took 500 milligrams of bergamot per day had reductions in visceral fat after 12 weeks of supplementation.

Other health benefits associated with oral supplementation of bergamot extract include the support of already healthy blood sugar levels, cognitive function, and bone volume. However, the studies examining these potential bergamot benefits are limited and most have been conducted on animals. More research with human subjects is needed.

An antioxidant-rich diet that includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains is essential for the health of your heart and whole body. Knowing which foods to limit for heart health is also important. 

So, can you eat fresh bergamot oranges? Let’s take a look at where you can find this incredible fruit. 

What Foods Contain Bergamot? 

The only natural food source of bergamot is fresh bergamot oranges. The fruit can be hard to find in American stores, and if you do, they’re only available for a few months each winter. Although you can eat bergamot raw, it has a sour, bitter taste that not everyone enjoys.

The studies that link health benefits to bergamot consumption used a controlled amount of bergamot fruit extract. It’s unknown whether eating fresh bergamot or foods and drinks that contain bergamot offer the same benefits. Plus, there’s no way to know how much fresh bergamot you would need to eat to equal the amounts used in research.

There aren’t many store-bought foods that contain fresh bergamot or extract, with the exception of Earl Grey tea. Earl Grey is a variety of black tea that contains bergamot extract, but again, the distinct flavor of bergamot is not everyone’s cup of tea.

Although both black tea and bergamot are rich in antioxidants, more research is needed to determine if drinking Earl Grey tea provides the same benefits as bergamot fruit extract.

The best way to add bergamot to your daily routine is to use a dietary supplement formulated with bergamot fruit extract. Garden of Life’s Heart Health Herbal Supplement contains 500 milligrams of bergamot fruit extract per serving, which is the same amount used in several studies with noteworthy results 

Orange You Ready to Grab Some Bergamot?

Bergamot is a citrus fruit grown in Italy that contains high levels of phytochemicals that have health-promoting antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Bergamot benefits heart health by supporting normal total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. Maintaining normal cholesterol levels is associated with overall heart health.

It’s rare to stumble upon fresh bergamot fruit at your local grocery store and, because it tastes pretty sour, the best way to regularly include this super citrus in your diet is with a dietary supplement.

Our Heart Health Herbal Supplement contains bergamot fruit extract, along with folate and vitamin K2, to support a healthy cardiovascular system. Take care of your heart with an all-natural supplement for heart health combined with a diet that prioritizes heart-healthy foods. 

  • by Sharon Lehman, RD

Shared from

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  2. Huang Y, Tocmo R, Nauman MC, Haughan MA, Johnson JJ. Defining the Cholesterol Lowering Mechanism of Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) Extract in HepG2 and Caco-2 Cells. Nutrients. 2021;13(9):3156. Published 2021 Sep 10. doi:10.3390/nu13093156 
  3. Rondanelli M, Peroni G, Riva A, et al. Bergamot phytosome improved visceral fat and plasma lipid profiles in overweight and obese class I subject with mild hypercholesterolemia: A randomized placebo controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2021;35(4):2045-2056. doi:10.1002/ptr.6950 
  4. Perna S, Spadaccini D, Botteri L, et al. Efficacy of bergamot: From anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative mechanisms to clinical applications as preventive agent for cardiovascular morbidity, skin diseases, and mood alterations. Food Sci Nutr. 2019;7(2):369-384. Published 2019 Jan 25. doi:10.1002/fsn3.903 
  5. Nauman MC, Johnson JJ. Clinical application of bergamot (Citrus bergamia) for reducing high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease markers. Integr Food Nutr Metab. 2019;6(2):10.15761/IFNM.1000249. doi:10.15761/IFNM.1000249