Studies show an extract from this citrus fruit can lower cholesterol


Once in a while, there’s a breakthrough in the world of natural remedies, and for cholesterol reduction, it’s bergamot extract. It comes from a citrus fruit that grows mostly in the Calabria region of southern Italy. Oil from bergamot rind is used to flavor Earl Grey tea; in aromatherapy, it’s used to reduce anxiety. But oil from the rind will not lower cholesterol. The therapeutic supplement is a bergamot extract from the juice of the fruit.

So far, human studies have tested bergamot extract on more than 400 people with elevated blood fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides, which increase risk for both heart disease and diabetes. These are some of the findings:

An Italian study, published in the journal Fitoterapia, compared a placebo with either 500 or 1,000 mg of bergamot extract. After one month, for the lower and higher dosages, average reductions in harmful LDL cholesterol were 24 and 36 percent and for triglycerides, 30 and 39 percent, while beneficial HDL cholesterol increased by 22 and 40 percent. Elevated blood sugar dropped by 15 and 25 percent.

Another study, published in the International Journal of Cardiology, compared the effects of a placebo, a statin, 1,000 mg of bergamot, and a combination of the statin and bergamot during one month. All but the placebo effectively lowered cholesterol, and among those taking the drug-supplement combination, doctors cut the drug dosage in half without reducing its effectiveness.

A study published in Advances in Biological Chemistry looked at the effect of 650 mg of bergamot extract, twice daily, on the liver. Researchers found that among people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and risk for heart disease and diabetes, bergamot improved levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar, and improved liver health.

Using bergamot extract: 500–1,000 mg daily has been the effective dose in studies. It’s preferable to take bergamot before or between meals, rather than with food.

Editors’ product picks

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Fitness Secrets Of A Romance Model

Guys often ask Jason Aaron Baca, the handsome hero on covers of more than 320 romance novels, for his fitness secrets. “You can’t just walk in the gym, start doing some bench presses, and the next day, have an amazing body with muscles popping out all over!” says Baca.


Visualizing how you want to look is the first step, he says. “If guys picture themselves with a beer gut all the time, what becomes of it? You guessed it.” To get in your best shape, it takes focus on what you want to achieve, and a routine that suits you. Here’s what Baca does:


“I always make sure to keep my workouts different,” he says, “but as for the body parts I work each day, I usually stay with the same ones.”

  • Monday: back and abs
  • Tuesday: chest, triceps, and abs
  • Wednesday: legs and abs
  • Thursday: cardio and weak point training (exercising a body part I feel is falling behind the rest of my muscles)
  • Friday: biceps and abs
  • Saturday: cardio and abs
  • Sunday: rest


He eats every 2 hours and chooses clean foods, including low-fat protein bars and whey protein. Here’s a typical day:

  • 8 a.m.: 1 cup fat-free milk and a multivitamin
  • 10 a.m.: 1 protein bar and water
  • 12 noon: 2 chicken breasts, 1 cup asparagus, almonds, and water
  • 2 p.m.: yogurt, an orange, and water
  • 4 p.m.: 3 egg whites and 1 protein shake
  • 6 p.m.: 2 egg whites and 1 can tuna

“A lot of guys feel they can be dedicated to their exercise and eat whatever they want,” he says, “but it won’t get you the hot body you may want.”


Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered why vitamin E is essential for a healthy brain. A deficiency may cause neurological damage by interrupting a supply line of specific nutrients and robbing the brain of the building blocks it needs to maintain health. “You can’t build a house without the necessary materials,” says Maret Traber, PhD, lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Lipid Research. “In a sense, if vitamin E is inadequate, we’re cutting by more than half the amount of materials with which we can build and maintain the brain.”


Kale may be all the rage, but watercress ranks as the No. 1 “powerhouse” veggie, meaning the one with the greatest concentration of 17 nutrients believed to be most important for preventing chronic disease. That’s the conclusion of a nutrient analysis by researchers at William Patterson University, published in Preventing Chronic Disease. (Kale ranks No. 15.) 

Water cress isolated on white

Water cress isolated on white

A member of the mustard family, watercress has a slightly bitter, more peppery flavor than many of its leafy green cousins. It can punch up soups, sandwiches, egg dishes, dips, or salads and works well with citrus, cucumbers, pears, and fruity dressings.

Bonus Benefits Of Walking Groups

Not motivated to go walking, even though you know you should? Joining a walking group can help. It builds relationships and boosts mood more than going solo, according to studies with more than 2,000 people. Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a review of the research found that three-quarters of people who tried walking groups stuck with them. To find groups near you, check out and


Popular Joint Supplements Fight Chronic Inflammation

Glucosamine and chondroitin, popular joint supplements among athletes, active people, and those with osteoarthritis, have long been regarded as a source of building blocks for healthy cartilage that cushions joints. Now, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle have found that both nutrients are also anti-inflammatory, thereby helping to protect joints and prevent a variety of chronic conditions driven by inflammation, including cancer. Using blood samples, the study, published in the journal PLOS One, found that the supplements reduced C-reactive protein, a chief marker of systemic inflammation.


Obesity Linked To B1 Deficiency

B1 (thiamine) is essential for metabolism of sugar and carbohydrates and for overall health. It appears that a deficiency of this important vitamin is more common among people who are obese compared to those of normal weight. In a study published in Advances in Nutrition, researchers in Washington, DC, found that up to 29 percent of patients seeking bariatric surgery were deficient in B1. They believe this is because foods high in sugar require B1 to be metabolized, leading to a shortfall of the vitamin. This can manifest as mental and physical fatigue, mood swings, muscle and back pain, and nausea.

Supplements and Cancer: The Facts

If you’ve heard recent news that dietary supplements may cause cancer, don’t be alarmed, but do get the facts. The “news” stemmed from a presentation of earlier research relating to multivitamin ingredients—not a new study—at an annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, and media reports generalized cancer risks that apply only in very specific situations.

“I don’t think we need to throw out all multivitamins,” says Lise Alschuler, ND, a board-certified naturopathic oncologist at Naturopathic Specialists in Scottsdale, Ariz., and a former director of naturopathic medicine at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

In fact, says Alschuler, 20 years ago, a study found that smokers who take beta-carotene that is added to supplements had increased risk for lung cancer, and should avoid it, but beta-carotene in food is protective. Supplements with beta-carotene in a natural food source, such as Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica, would also be protective.

In addition, she says, “Nobody would benefit from dl-alpha tocopherol (synthetic vitamin E).” Instead, take natural vitamin E, d-alpha tocopherol, or even better, mixed tocotrienols, a family of vitamin E nutrients.


Alschuler also cautions that people who have a history of aggressive or advanced cancer should avoid copper, because it plays a role in tumor formation. And anyone with a history of estrogen- or testosterone-dependent cancers should avoid boron. Both nutrients are found in some multivitamins.

In terms of cancer risks, she says, “Beyond that, I don’t think we can securely make any additional statements.” And, supplementation supervised by a knowledgeable health practitioner can benefit cancer patients.

Eggs Enhance Veggies

Eating cooked eggs with veggies increases nutrient absorption considerably, according to a study of 16 healthy young men who ate a salad of tomatoes, shredded carrots, baby spinach, romaine lettuce, and goji berries. Compared to eating the salad without any eggs, eating it with three eggs increased absorption of carotenoids, including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, up to nine times. Study findings were presented at an annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition.

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