Garlic is widely used as a spice, but few people realize just how powerful a healing agent it is for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Today, we look at how garlic can save your heart, and your life, through its ability to help prevent and treat atherosclerosis.
First, let’s briefly mention what is atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a disease where plaque, which is a build-up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances, forms inside the arteries. Over time, plaque can harden and narrow the arteries, which can limit the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the organs and the rest of the body. Sometimes, plaque breaks off and causes a blockage, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Garlic, in its raw and aged form, possesses 6 major therapeutic properties, that work together to treat and prevent atherosclerosis.
Number 6. Garlic helps protect the heart from calcification.
Garlic can help prevent too much calcium from building up in the arteries. When this happens, the arteries can become stiff and hard. This is called calcification. Calcium buildup in the heart’s two major arteries is known as “coronary artery calcification”.
A 2004 study from UCLA showed that patients on statin drugs who took aged garlic extract for one year had 3 times reduced progression of coronary artery calcification.
Another 2013 study published in the International Journal of Cardiology showed that supplement doses of aged garlic extract, B-12, folic acid, B6, and l-arginine over one year, increased the ratio of (active) brown fat to (inactive) white fat surrounding the heart muscle. More brown fat and less white fat around the heart means that the risk of calcification was reduced.
The authors concluded that garlic may be beneficial for patients who are at high risk of future cardiovascular events.
Number 5. Garlic helps slow the progress of atherosclerosis.
Studies done at UCLA found that the garlic and supplement mix mentioned earlier improved oxidative biomarkers, vascular health, and reduced the progress of atherosclerosis.
A 4-year clinical trial in Germany showed that garlic powder, when taken daily, reduced the volume of “arteriosclerotic plaque” by up to 18%, and the risk of heart attack and stroke by 50%.
In another 2016 study published in the Journal of Nutrition, patients with metabolic syndrome were given 2400 mg a day of aged garlic for 354 days.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of health problems that include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, too much body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. People with metabolic syndrome are at a much higher risk of heart attack and stroke. This condition often occurs together with atherosclerosis.
The clear conclusion of the study was that aged garlic prevented plaque buildup in the arteries.
Number 4. Garlic helps improve the cholesterol profile.
Garlic reliably reduces total cholesterol and Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL), while increasing High-density Lipoprotein (HDL), thus helping to prevent cholesterol from clogging the arteries.
Number 3. Garlic helps lower blood pressure.
High blood pressure is dangerous because it increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, often showing no symptoms until the damage has already been done.
When you eat a garlic-rich diet, it works to keep your blood pressure in check via several mechanisms.
First, garlic helps increase nitric oxide production in your cells by increasing the activity of an enzyme called nitric oxide synthase.
Nitric oxide is important for healthy blood flow because it helps your blood vessels to dilate or widen. If you don’t have enough nitric oxide, you are at risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
Second, garlic may have a similar effect as popular blood pressure drugs by blocking the hormone angiotensin. This helps to keep blood vessels from narrowing.
Third, garlic helps your red blood cells produce hydrogen sulfide. This compound relaxes your blood vessels, which keeps your blood pressure in check.
Number 2. Garlic helps prevent blood clots.
Garlic contains sulfur compounds that help prevent platelets in the blood from sticking together. This lowers the risk of forming a blood clot and improves blood flow. However, this antiplatelet property of garlic may be a problem for people taking blood thinners, such as aspirin or other anticoagulants.
Number 1. Garlic helps reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
Damage to blood vessel linings can be caused by unstable molecules called “free radicals. Too many free radicals can lead to oxidation stress, which leads to inflammation and a higher risk of plaque formation and clogging.
Garlic is an excellent source of antioxidants (including selenium, vitamin C, and quercetin), and sulfur compounds, which fight both oxidation and inflammation, making it easier for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body.
You probably already guessed by now that garlic’s cardioprotective properties have a lot to do with its sulfur-containing compounds, and you’re right!
Now, let’s look at what makes garlic so effective as a natural remedy.
Garlic is a member of the lily family and is rich in sulfur compounds-something it shares with onions, leeks, and chives, all of which are from the same family.
Garlic contains a molecule called allicin. When garlic is “disturbed” through chewing, slicing, or crushing, it releases allicin.
Allicin turns into a variety of fat and water-soluble sulfur-containing compounds. These compounds are so volatile that they give off hydrogen sulfide, which is part of garlic’s unmistakable smell and taste.
It is these sulfur compounds that help to prevent and treat atherosclerosis, and heart disease caused by diabetes. They also provide other health benefits like fighting infection and cancer, detoxifying heavy metals from the body, and preventing the common cold.
Next, how much garlic should you take daily?
The benefit of any garlic or aged garlic extract depends on how it’s processed.
One of the best ways to eat garlic is in its fresh, raw form. You can chop it or crush it with your teeth. Raw garlic has a strong taste, but you can reduce it by adding some avocado, tomato sauce, or olive oil. If you’re cooking with it, letting it sit for 10 minutes after chopping may help to preserve more of its health benefits.
This “stinking rose” is a simple and tasty addition to many dishes, and getting 3-6 cloves a day into your diet is an easy goal. For supplementation, most studies on garlic use a dosage range of 600-1,200mg a day, usually divided into multiple doses.
Aged garlic extract is a popular supplement because it doesn’t have a fresh garlic scent. It may have greater antioxidant benefits. However, garlic supplementation can be done through food alone.
Compared to drugs with side effects like statins, garlic is a powerful, time-tested, safe, affordable, and easily accessible natural healing agent with dozens of documented side benefits!
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As always, this video is educational and does not constitute medical advice. We are not doctors.
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And now over to you! Are you taking garlic daily to support your heart health? What benefits have you experienced?
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