Scientists believe bergamot, a key ingredient in Earl Grey tea, can significantly lower cholesterol and may be as good as some statins.
Drinking Earl Grey tea could help guard against heart disease, it has emerged. It may also be more effective than some statins. This news comes after a study found that bergamot extract - a key ingredient in the hot tea - is effective at controlling cholesterol.
Scientists believe bergamot, a fragrant Mediterranean citrus fruit contains enzymes known as HMGF (hydroxy methyl glutaryl flavonones), can attack proteins in the body known to cause heart disease. Citrus foods are part of the famed 'Mediterranean diet' which has been hailed as one of the best approaches to avoid heart disease.
According to the Daily Mail, bergamot has long been used in traditional folk medicines in the Mediterranean not only as a protection for the heart but also to treat wounds, inflammation and as an antiseptic.
Bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia) is a fragrant fruit the size of an orange, with a yellow color similar to a lemon. Production mostly is limited to the Ionian Sea coastal areas of the province of Reggio di Calabria in Italy. An essence extracted from the aromatic skin of this sour fruit is used to flavour Earl Grey and Lady Grey teas, and confectionery including Turkish delight.
As reported by the Daily Telegraph, studies showed that bergamot reduced levels of LDL – so-called 'bad cholesterol' which leads to heart disease – and it also increased HDL, which doctors call 'good cholesterol'.
Given that there are some doubts about statins (debate exists over whether statins are effective in those with high cholesterol, but no history of heart disease), news that there is an alternative worth exploring through further trials has been welcomed by the medical community.
The study was carried out by a research team based at Italy's University of Calabria, and it has been reported in the Journal of Functional Foods.