(NaturalHealth365) For over 80 years, heart disease has maintained its primacy as the number one cause of death for men and women in the United States – ahead of cancer, diabetes, accidents, pneumonia and Alzheimer’s disease.
In fact, heart disease is currently responsible for one out of every four deaths that occur in the U.S. However, as unlikely as it sounds, an extract from an everyday kitchen staple – garlic – has the potential to drastically cut your odds of becoming a medical statistic.
With nearly 900 studies on aged garlic – including this one, research is confirming that food can truly be our best ally against heart disease.
How aged garlic helps to REDUCE the risk of heart disease
Research shows that aged garlic can reduce heart disease by combating atherosclerosis – the buildup of plaque deposits within artery walls.
In a study involving 55 patients aged 40 to 75, researchers found that aged garlic extract reduced the amount of “soft” plaque – otherwise known as low-attenuation plaque – in the coronary arteries of participants with metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome, which puts patients at risk for heart disease, is a cluster of unhealthy conditions that can include obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.
For a year, study participants were given either 2400 mg of aged garlic a day, or a placebo.
And the team found that the garlic group displayed an 80 percent reduction in total plaque accumulation – along with substantially reduced “soft” plaque.
The researchers concluded that garlic reduced the accumulation of soft plaque – while preventing the formation of new deposits.
In an additional study, participants with mild to moderate plaque build-up in their arteries had significantly less plaque after taking 1200 mg of aged garlic and 120 mg of coenzyme Q10 daily for a year.
The participants’ occupation (all were firefighters) was highly significant, as the study showed that garlic succeeded in removing plaque even in the face of considerable occupational stress.
Aged garlic fights inflammation – a key marker of disease
In the “firefighter” study, which was published in Nutrition, researchers also found that the participants had lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation. (The placebo group had a whopping 0.91 mg/L increase in CRP, while the garlic and CoQ10 group experienced an average decrease of 0.12 mg/L).
This is significant because inflammation is believed by many scientists to lie at the root of heart disease, as well as many other chronic degenerative diseases.
Animal studies have also supported the ability of aged garlic extract to reduce heart attack risk factors. In one study, the extract lowered levels of CRP, reduced the expression of interleukin (another pro-inflammatory molecule) and decreased levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked with higher risk of heart disease.
Aged garlic decreases the risk of blood clots
Garlic also helps reduce risk of heart disease by improving the function of the endothelium (the fragile lining of the arterial walls) and helping blood vessels maintain flexibility.
The key is garlic’s high levels of compounds known as polysulfides. These trigger an increase in beneficial nitric oxide, which in turn promotes a widening and relaxation of blood vessels – making them less likely to become brittle and breakable.
In addition, garlic functions as a natural anticoagulant (blood-thinner), reducing the “stickiness” of blood platelets and discouraging their tendency to form potentially-deadly clots.
Garlic extract lowers blood pressure
Garlic’s ability to increase nitric oxide and dilate arteries yields another important health benefit– the lowering of blood pressure.
In a review published in The Journal of Nutrition, the authors noted that they evaluated 20 different trials with 970 participants – before concluding that garlic could reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number) by up to 16 mmHg.
Aged garlic extract can decrease diastolic blood pressure as well – by up to 9 mmHg.
In fact, researchers in a separate study concluded that garlic extract lowered blood pressure as effectively as pharmaceutical medications. Intriguingly, the strongest antihypertensive results were seen in participants whose blood pressure was elevated to begin with – demonstrating garlic’s ability to “act where it is needed.”
Garlic lowers harmful LDL cholesterol
Finally, aged garlic helps to reduce artery-clogging cholesterol – in some cases reducing total cholesterol by up to 30 mg/dL.
In a published meta-analysis evaluating 39 trials and over 2300 participants, the authors reported that garlic could reduce both total and LDL cholesterol by 10 percent – if taken for over two months.
They characterized garlic as a complementary treatment for both high blood pressure and for “slightly elevated” cholesterol – and called for more studies to further explore garlic’s therapeutic benefits.
Is aged garlic extract right for you?
Although eating fresh, raw, organic garlic confers undeniable health dividends, many natural health experts advise supplementing with an aged garlic extract (AGE) for maximum benefit. AGE can deliver a more consistent dose of garlic, and at a higher concentration, than munching on raw cloves.
AGE is derived from fresh organic garlic that has been aged in ethanol for 20 months – a process which increases the content of disease-fighting flavonoids and antioxidant water-soluble sulfur compounds. The treatment also removes much of the characteristic odor, and makes the garlic more bioavailable.
The resultant extract features more potent immune system-boosting qualities than those offered by fresh garlic, making it more effective for defense against pathogens, cancer cells – and heart disease.
Did you know? Garlic is so important in fighting disease that the World Health Organization recommends a daily dose of two to five grams per day – an amount equal to an average-sized garlic clove.
Alternately, the WHO advises taking 300 mg to 1,000 mg of garlic extract a day. And, in case you’re curious, one 1,000-mg dose of AGE is roughly equal to six or seven cloves of raw, fresh garlic.
Of course, like we always suggest, check with an experienced integrative physician before supplementing with aged garlic extract.
As studies show, AGE works overtime to fight heart disease. Along with smart lifestyle choices like eating organic, whole (unprocessed) foods and exercise, taking AGE could be one of the wisest things you can do to protect the all-important health of your heart.
Sources for this article include:
Cancer & Heart Disease
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