Drinking Earl Grey tea could help guard against heart disease, it has emerged, after a study found that bergamot extract – a key ingredient in the hot drink – is just as effective as statins at controlling cholesterol.
Scientists believe bergamot, a fragrant Mediterranean citrus fruit which gives Early Grey tea its distinctive flavour, can significantly lower cholesterol.
They say it contains enzymes known as HMGF (hydroxy methyl glutaryl flavonones) which can attack proteins in the body known to cause heart disease.
The study found bergamot could even be as effective as statins, used to control cholesterol but which can have side effects in patients.
Researchers from Italy’s University of Calabria, writing for the Journal of Functional Foods, used concentrations of HMGF on the proteins which cause heart disease and ‘bad’ cholesterol.
They then compared the effects with that of statins used to treat the same proteins and found the bergamot extract with HMGF worked just as well.
Not only did it reduce levels of LDL – so-called ‘bad cholesterol’ which leads to heart disease – but also increased HDL, which doctors call ‘good cholesterol’.