March 30/Calabria, Italy/University of Calabria -- A cup of Earl Grey tea can lower cholesterol and reduce the chances of heart disease, according to scientists. The beverage contains extracts of a fruit called bergamot which scientists believe is a superfood for the heart.

The bergamot is a Mediterranean citrus fruit which gives Earl Grey its distinct taste and aroma. New research claims it contains enzymes known as HMGF (hydroxy methyl glutaryl flavonones) which can treat heart diseases as effectively as statins.

Researchers from Italy’s University of Calabria for the Journal of Functional Foods used concentrations of HMGF on the proteins which cause heart disease and "bad" cholesterol. They then compared the effects with that of statins used to treat the same proteins and found the bergomot extract with HMGF worked just as well.

Not only did it reduce levels of LDL -- so-called "bad" cholesterol which leads to heart disease -- but also increased HDL, "good" cholesterol.

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."