Interestingly, garlic has had 'the stinking rose' nickname since ancient times! Garlic is an allium which is part of the Liliaceae family. Garlic is closer to a lily than a rose, but the name stuck. At any rate, what's important is what 'the stinking rose' can do for your health - specifically, your heart health.
Heart disease isn’t simply an idiom for high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Far from it.
Heart disease actually covers any condition that affects the cardiovascular (CV) system. A variety of conditions can prevent your CV system from functioning properly.
Surprisingly, researchers have learned that one botanical confers benefits across a number of different cardiovascular risk factors. We're talking about garlic!
Garlic and the Heart
Garlic (Allium sativum) is one of the oldest known botanical medicines. According to Egyptian writings, this pungent herb was used in more than 800 potions to cure 22 different ailments. It was even entombed with King Tut to protect him in the afterlife.
Garlic contains 17 different amino acids, not to mention a myriad of vitamins, trace minerals, enzymes and sulfur compounds. Of garlic’s 33 different sulfur compounds, one known as diallyl thiosulfinate (commonly called allicin) is responsible for garlic’s characteristic odor.
Allicin is the plant’s personal protection against insects and other pests, which has earned garlic the moniker, 'Mother Nature’s insecticide.' However, the garlic needs to be cut or crushed for allicin to be produced. For this reason, many studies on garlic use garlic powder supplements - and this newest study is no different. In a two-armed study, researchers tested the effects of garlic on men with mild blood pressure issues, as well as men with elevated cholesterol levels.
In the blood pressure study, men taking garlic powder supplements every day for eight weeks enjoyed a 5.2 percent reduction in systolic blood pressure and a four percent reduction in diastolic blood pressure. In the cholesterol study, men taking the garlic daily for 12 weeks saw an 11.8 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol and an 11.5 percent increase in HDL cholesterol. That's a big deal!
Even MORE Heart Benefits
The study goes on to outline additional cardiovascular benefits found in garlic. It discusses one study of men with cerebral atherosclerosis (thickening of the arteries in the brain), where 14 days of garlic treatment reduced platelet aggregation by 25.4 percent and increased plasma fibrinolytic activity (blood clot prevention) by 22.4 percent.
Researchers then detail another study of high-risk patients to evaluate changes in cardiovascular risk after using garlic. They found that taking garlic consistently for 12 months reduced the 10-year prognostic risk of heart disease by 13.2 percent in men and 7.1 percent in women. Moreover, the 10-year risk for heart attack and sudden coronary death was also reduced by 26.1 percent in men.
Lastly, the Atherosclerosis Monitoring and Atherogenicity Reduction Study (AMAR) looked at the use of garlic to reduce hardening of the arteries in asymptomatic men. Researchers found that garlic reduced carotid thickness and reduced risk for atherosclerosis.
Given all this, researchers concluded, “Evidence obtained from these studies as well as series of double-blinded placebo-controlled clinical trials indicates that garlic powder pills are effective for prevention of cardiovascular disorders.”
Reduce Risk for Heart Disease
There appears to be little doubt that garlic can do your heart good. And it is delicious as well! In addition to adding to virtually any ethnic cuisine, you can use garlic to sauté veggies or even roast it with olive oil and use in place of butter on bread or crackers.
While eating garlic is a great option, the reality is it can be virtually impossible to eat enough garlic to reach medicinal doses. Not to mention, too much garlic can cause digestive upset. That’s why taking garlic supplements can be an effective option, like those in the studies referenced above. Aim for 50-100 mg of odorless garlic daily. Be sure it is extracted from the entire clove of garlic, not just garlic powder.
Also, because garlic is so effective, you will want to watch your garlic intake if you are taking a blood-thinner such as Coumadin.
So spice up your need meal with garlic for some added flavor and heath benefits!