Research into garlic and heart disease could and does fill volumes - and they all point to the fact that eating garlic does wonders for the cardiovascular system.
According to Arun Bordia, a cardiologist at Tagore Medical College in India, eating garlic regularly can deter artery-clogging, and, more remarkably, even reverse the damage, helping heal your arteries.
He carried out a study on garlic and heart disease on 432 patients, most recovering from heart attacks, over a period of three years.
Half the group ate two or three fresh raw or cooked garlic gloves every day, squeezing it into juice or putting it in milk as a "morning tonic", or eating it boiled or minced. The other half ate no garlic.
After the first year there was no difference in the rate of heart attacks between the two groups.
But in the second year deaths among the garlic eaters dropped by 50%, and in the third year, they sank 66%! Non-fatal heart attacks also declined 30% the second year and 60% the third year.
Further, blood pressure and blood cholesterol in the garlic eaters fell 10%. Garlic eaters also had fewer attacks of angina - chest pain. There were no significant cardiovascular changes in the non-garlic eaters.
Dr Bodia suggests that, over time, steady infusions of garlic both wash away some of the arterial plaque and prevent future damage through its antioxidant activity.
What amazing results just from adding garlic to one's diet!
It also goes to show, though, that natural remedies are not a quick fix, you've got to be prepared to make permanent changes to your diet to be able to reap the benefits. But is it not worth the effort?
Garlic is said to possess at least 15 different antioxidants that may neutralize artery-destroying agents.
Also researchers into garlic and heart disease have isolated a garlic compound named ajoene that has anti-thrombotic activity, equal to or exceeding that of aspirin, a well recognised blood clot inhibitor, but without its side-effects.
Plus, aspirin performs only one way as an anticoagulant by stifling production of thromboxane, that is, it suppresses the secretion of certain prostaglandins that are responsible for causing inflammation, pain, and platelet aggregation and also order blood platelets to start sticking together.
Ajoene does the same thing, and additionally blocks platelet clumping seven other ways - by all pathways known.
Recent German research into garlic and heart disease, shows that garlic compounds definitely speed up blood-clot dissolving activity and improve blood fluidity. Such simultaneous action improves circulation and in fact helps "purify" the blood of unwanted elements.
How much garlic is necessary to achieve this anti-clotting activity? As little as one or two cloves of garlic a day, raw or cooked, have a pronounced beneficial effect on clotting activity, researchers say.
Garlic has been used in folk medicine for a long time, especially for its ability to lower blood pressure.
But has its effectiveness been proven in any studies on garlic and high blood pressure? Indeed it has.
In a recent double blind German test on Kwai, an over-the-counter garlic preparation, doses comparable to a couple of daily garlic cloves pushed blood pressure down in patients with mild high blood pressure.
The blood pressure in the garlic group sank from an average 171/102 to 152/89 after three months, while the blood pressure of the placebo group stayed the same. Interestingly, garlic's impact grew stronger throughout the test, suggesting that daily infusions of garlic have a cumulative effect.
How does garlic work in lowering blood pressure? At least partly by relaxing the smooth muscles of the blood vessels, allowing them to dilate. Both garlic and onions contain a great deal of a compound, adenosine, that is a smooth muscle relaxant, so eating onions should also help reduce blood pressure too.
Both raw and cooked garlic and onions can benefit blood pressure, although raw garlic is thought to be more potent.
Garlic also contains other components helpful in lowering blood pressure, such as potassium, vitamin C, calcium and magnesium.
However, human studies evaluating garlic's benefits for blood pressure, whether using aged garlic extract, garlic powder or fresh garlic, found average reduction in systolyc blood pressure of 7.7 mmHg and diastolic pressure of 5 mmHg.
About twenty published human tests on garlic and heart disease show that fresh garlic as well as some garlic preparations can reduce cholesterol.
According to these studies, three fresh garlic cloves a day can lower cholesterol an average 10% and up to 15% in some people - of course, less works to a lesser degree. It does not metter whether the garlic is cooked or raw, it's effective both ways.
At least six compounds in garlic have been identified that lower cholesterol by suppressing the liver's synthesis of cholesterol.
In a recent controlled test, fifty subjects who ate three raw garlic cloves every morning for two months saw their cholesterol drop 15% - down from an average 213 to 180. Their blood clotting factors also improved dramatically, but more importantly their HDL (or so-called good cholesterol) increased by 23%.
Although many studies have been specifically on garlic and
heart disease, garlic has many more properties that affect other
conditions as well. Read more on the
health benefits of garlic
by clicking on the link, or go on to the next article in the heart disease series.
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