What does bergamot taste like?
Bergamot is a fruit native to Southern Italy that is about the size of an orange. It has a citrusy taste and smell. It has been used by people (most commonly in Italy) as a folklore remedy to relieve anxiety, improve heart health and boost immunity. It is commonly juiced or used as a tea (bergamot tea). Bergamot essential oil (for massage, aromatherapy inhalation) is extracted from its peel.
Bergamot tea, also known as Earl Grey, is a blend of black tea with the oil from the peel of bergamot. This combination gives the tea its unique delectable flavor, making it a popular beverage. The tea tastes sweet, citrusy and a little bitter. The bitterness comes from the black tea.
What are the health benefits of bergamot?
Although bergamot has been used as a folklore remedy for various diseases, we need more evidence to conclusively prove its effects. Here, we enlist a few of the scientifically proven benefits of bergamot
- Lower cholesterol levels: Bergamot extracts can help reduce the following parameters related to fat content in the blood. These include
Bergamot extracts might be as effective as the cholesterol-lowering drug, rosuvastatin, when taken for 30 days.
- Cardioprotective effect: Increased triglyceride levels in the blood can put a person at risk for heart attacks and strokes. Due to its role in reducing the triglycerides in the body, bergamot can help prevent heart problems in people with high fat levels. The presence of certain antioxidants in bergamot helps eliminate oxidative stress and plaque buildup in the heart. Oxidative stress is an important factor that leads to chronic conditions, such as heart disease. Plaque buildup in the arteries can cause blockages in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This can lead to a heart attack.
- Stress buster and anxiety reliever: People take bergamot tea as a stress buster after a long, stressful day. Some also use bergamot essential oil aromatherapy for relieving anxiety and improving their mood. It may also improve sleep quality. Various animal studies have been conducted to find scientific evidence for the claimed benefits. However, the evidence in humans is insufficient. These unproven benefits include
- Improved digestion: As per the folklore literature, bergamot provides relief from problems of the digestive system such as bloating, nausea and gas. However, scientific research to prove its efficacy is not strong enough.
- Topical use in skin diseases: Psoralen-free bergamot essential oil is used for topical use in skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. This oil has anti-inflammatory and skin healing properties. The increased hyperpigmentation of skin following bergamot essential oil use is attributed primarily to psoralen. However, it is ineffective for improving the collagen content of the skin.
- Enhanced immunity: Bergamot tea is also used as a preventive measure against cold and flu, especially in the winter and fall. The immunity-enhancing effect can be attributed to the antioxidant content of bergamot. However, clinical trials are not adequate to prove its immunity-building effect.
Are there any side effects associated with bergamot consumption?
Excess consumption of bergamot in any form can cause side effects. These include the following
- Sunburn: The chemicals found in bergamot can make some individuals more photosensitive. Some may even develop sunburn.
- Muscle cramps: Bergamot can interfere with the potassium channels in a person’s body and lead to muscle cramps.
Bergamot may interact with medications and cause side effects or reactions. If a person is on any medication, they should consult their doctor before starting it or they should let the doctor know if they have been taking it.
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