Statins are very effective at reducing low density lipoprotein (LDL aka bad) cholesterol in our blood. But according to a paper published last month in the Journal of Functional Foods reducing LDL is only half the job, we also want to increase the amount of high density lipoprotein (HDL aka good) cholesterol.
So the researchers turned their attention to an extract from the citrus plant bergamot and compared the effect this extract had on rats fed a diet with added cholesterol compared to the statin simvastatin.
So why would they make this comparison? Well, citrus fruit is known to have a positive effect on lipid levels in the blood and therefore to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Another reason no doubt that a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice is recommended as one of the 5-a-day.
The experiment lasted for 3 weeks. The control group were fed a normal diet of “rat chow”, another group were fed the supplemented diet of a normal diet plus +2% cholesterol +0.2% cholic acid, and 2 further groups were fed the supplemented diet and given either simvastatin or the bergamot extract in the final week.
Both bergamot extract and the statin reduced LDL cholesterol levels but the group fed the bergamot extract also showed signs of increased HDL cholesterol levels.
Interesting results indeed, the Earl was onto something when he put that citrus fruit in his tea…perhaps his wife was onto it even more with the addition of other citrus fruit peel in her Lady Grey variation? The question I have is, how many cups would I have to drink a day to see positive effects? I am English but even I have limits of tea consumption.