Scientists believe that bergamot, the fragrant fruit that gives Earl Grey tea its wonderful taste, may play a role in lowering cholesterol levels.
A new study has found that the extract of bergamot in the tea is as effective at the control of cholesterol as statins. According to scientists, the extract contains hydroxyl methyl glutaryl flavonones (HMGF), enzymes which are able to attack the proteins which are known to be the cause of heart disease.
The study which was done has found that statins are effective, but it often causes side effects in patients, which bergamot may not present.
The study was undertaken by researchers from the University of Calabria in Italy. The researchers made use of HMGF concentrations on the proteins which are responsible for bad cholesterol and heart disease. This was compared to the effects of statins on the same proteins. The results indicated that the bergamot extract was as effective as the statins.
It not only reduced levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol which causes heart diseases, but it also showed an increase in HDL, which is known as the good cholesterol.
The Mediterranean diet has always been said to be one of the best to avoid heart disease and citrus foods play a big role in this diet.
Bergamot has been used for a long time in the Mediterranean, not only as a way to reduce heart disease, but also in the treatment of inflammation, wounds and is very effective as an antiseptic. This extract is used in ice cream, jams and perfumes. During a study done during 2012, researchers found that bergamot is effective in weight loss and may protect individuals against diabetes.
Bergamot is available as a food supplement in tablet form, known as BergaMet. Taking a 1000mg pill before meals has shown a reduction of 22% in blood sugars and it raised HDL by 41%.
The supplement is able to block the enzyme which is responsible for cholesterol production in the same manner as statins. However, it works differently on the enzyme which curbs side effects, particularly in the liver and the muscles.
Statins, however, have been found to have other medical benefits. It has been found that popular drugs used to lower cholesterol may offer benefits to males who suffer erectile dysfunction. The statins may help this condition by aiding the dilation of the blood vessels, thereby improving the flow of blood to the penis.
Image credit: Ana Ulin