We’re usually always excited to read about supplements that are new or “hot” at the moment, but I wanted to write instead this month about a supplement that has been around for ages, but none the less, has many benefits that deserve to be reexamined- garlic.
Most of us eat garlic occasionally, and are vaguely aware of its health benefits, but I wanted to write about its many benefits when used as part of a daily supplement regimen.
Garlic for cardiovascular health
One of garlic’s most interesting benefits is for helping to prevent atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the thickening or hardening of the arteries caused by a buildup of fats and cholesterol (plaque) on the artery walls, which then restricts blood flow. These arterial plaques can then burst, causing blood clots.
Atherosclerosis often happens with age, but it’s definitely something to be avoided! Garlic can prevent these problems by reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, but also by inhibiting platelet stickiness.
Garlic supplementation has been found to reduce the size of plaque deposits in animal studies by fifty percent. One double blind human study found that a dosage of 900mg per day of garlic extract “significantly slowed the development of atherosclerosis when measured by an ultrasound”. Another human garlic study measured the flexibility of the aorta (the body’s main artery) in two hundred participants and reported that those who took garlic supplements had more flexibility in their arteries, which indicated a lower rate of atherosclerosis.
Garlic for preventing heart attacks
Garlic also can help to prevent heart attacks. In research, participants who had already suffered a heart attack that used garlic supplements had a reduced risk of a second heart attack, and a fifty percent lower death rate. Garlic works to prevent heart attacks by stimulating a process in the body in which blood clots are dissolved. Because of this action, garlic supplements should not be taken by people using prescription blood thinners without speaking to their doctor.
Garlic and high blood pressure
Benefits for high blood pressure have also been found after taking aged garlic extract supplements. Studies have shown that taking garlic supplements twice a day were able to lower their systolic blood pressure by twelve points.
Garlic for boosting the immune system
Garlic is great for the immune system and works in part by helping to activate the body’s macrophages- a specific type of white blood cell that literally ingests and destroys harmful microorganisms. There have been numerous studies on garlic’s benefit to the immune system, and ability to significantly increase the numbers of germ eating macrophages in the bloodstream.
Garlic for cancer prevention
Garlic can also aid in cancer prevention since it has compounds which stop tumor formation as well as inhibiting the spread of tumors. Garlic has been shown to reduce the occurrence of a variety of cancers, including colon, prostate, and stomach cancer.
Even with all these benefits, however, no one wants to reek of garlic. Eating too much raw garlic can cause stomach upset and may keep people from wanting to stand too close to you. Thankfully, there are odorless garlic supplements available that can impart the benefits of garlic without your neighbors knowing about it. My favorite garlic supplements are the aged garlic supplements by Kyolic. Aging garlic removes its odor while retaining its health benefits; in fact, aged garlic has been shown to be significantly higher in active beneficial compounds than raw garlic. I take Kyolic garlic on a regular basis, and can absolutely attest to it being odor free.