ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) – A new study has found that Earl Grey tea can lower cholesterol and also reduce the chances of heart disease.

Researchers from Italy’s University of Calabria explained that the tea contains extracts of a Mediterranean citrus fruit called bergamot, which is made of enzymes known as Hydroxy Methyl Glutaryl Flavonones (HGMF).

The researcher used concentrations of HMGF on the proteins which cause bad cholesterol and heart diseases comparing it to the effects with that of statins used to treat to the same proteins. They found that the bergamot extract with HGMF worked as effectively as statins.

It increased HDL, which doctors call “good cholesterol”, while lowering the levels of LDL, the “bad cholesterol” which leads to heart disease.

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,” the report stated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 600,000 people die from heart disease every year in the U.S. and it’s the leading cause of death for men and women. Nearly 71 million Americans have high cholesterol, the CDC reported.

The study was published in the Italian Journal of Functional Foods.

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