Earl Grey tea as good as statins at fighting heart disease?
1st April 2014
Earl Grey teaEvery office has that one person who is brew-shy and will avoid having to fill up the kettle at all costs! However, these type of people may reconsider after scientists discovered that drinking Earl Grey tea could help to protest against the onset of heart disease. The tasty beverage – a popular drink in television program Downton Abbey -  contains a fragrant Mediterranean citrus fruit bergamot, an extract responsible for the distinct taste and smell which experts found can be as beneficial as statins like Atorvastatin or Pravastatin in lowering bad cholesterol and ultimately lowering the risk of heart disease. New research has shown that Earl’s Grey tea contains enzymes called HMGF (hydroxy methyl glutaryl flavonones), which work at fighting the body’s proteins that help to cause cardiovascular disease – something which is the primary reason for a quarter of deaths in the UK. The study was conducted by scientists from Italy's University of Calabria, who worked with concentrations of HMGF on the proteins that are responsible for ‘bad’ cholesterol and heart disease. Writing in the Journal of Functional Foods, they said that a dietary supplement of HMGF could be as comparable as statin therapy in fighting low-density proteins (LDL) or 'bad' cholesterol, with the bergamot extract with HMGF working just as well as the medications after comparison. Not only were levels of the bad LDL cholesterol reduced, but researchers also found that the bergamot extract also increased HDL, also referred to as 'good cholesterol'. Citrus foods belong to the heavily praised 'Mediterranean diet', something which adhered to,  many health experts argue it can dramatically lower the risk of heart disease. Food and drink from this diet that can aid health include a moderate consumption of ethanol – derived from the wine, low consumption of meat, and high intake of vegetables, fruit, nuts, legumes, fish and olive oil. Bergamot has only been added to many traditional Mediterranean‘folk’ medicines for the treatment of wounds, inflammation and as an antiseptic, in addition to its boost for the heart. The journal’s 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.” Cholesterol-busting statins such as Crestor (Rosuvastatin) and Lipitor (Atorvastatin) are currently prescribed to around 7 million Brits and function by raising good/protective cholesterol (HDL) and lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides. The higher your cholesterol level, the higher your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke due to your arteries being clogged up with the fat-like substance known as cholesterol.