Scientists have revealed that Earl Grey tea has the ability to lower cholesterol and reduce the chances of heart disease.
The drink contains extracts of a fruit called bergamot which scientists believe is a superfood for the heart.
Research suggests that bergamot could even be as effective as statins, the controversial cholesterol-controlling drugs which can have side effects.
Bergamot is a Mediterranean citrus fruit which gives Earl Grey its distinct taste and smell that is something of an acquired taste.
The new research, published in the Journal of Functional Foods, shows that bergamot contains enzymes known as HMGF (hydroxy methyl glutaryl flavonones) which are able to treat heart diseases just as effectively as statins.
Researchers from the University of Calabria, Italy, used concentrations of HMGF on the proteins which cause heart disease and ‘bad’ cholesterol.
The team then compared the effects with that of statins and found the bergomot extract just as well. Not only did it reduce levels of ‘bad cholesterol’ which leads to heart disease – it also increased HDL, or ‘good cholesterol’.
Citrus foods have long been part of the healthy ‘Mediterranean diet’ which has long been known to be one of the best ways to avoid heart disease.
The report said: “High cholesterol is a common health concern for us all and often statins are given to help treat the condition.
“Extract from bergamot – most commonly used in Earl Grey tea – reduced total cholesterol, and LDL levels but there was an increase in HDL levels (good cholesterol).
“Therefore a daily supplement of bergamot fruit extract could be very effective for the treatment of high cholesterol.”