People have used garlic for thousand of years to prevent many illnesses, among them heart attacks, high blood pressure, and many more as well as to ward off vampires. Well, although modern research has not confirmed yet that rubbing garlic on doorknobs and window frames can protect us against vampires or evil spirits, it has confirmed what our ancestors believed about the health benefits of this herb: its consumption can protect us from many ailments.
Unfortunately, for several decades, the widespread use of antibiotics has ignored the medical properties of garlic. Lately, however, interest in garlic has escalated and nowadays research is focusing on the role garlic plays in the prevention and control of heart disease.
How can garlic help prevent and control heart disease?
Through the following mechanisms:
1. Garlic can lower your high blood pressure
High blood pressure is one of the health conditions where garlic treatment brings the fastest results. Studies suggest that garlic dilates blood vessel walls, increasing the diameter of the arteries. Garlic also helps prevent high blood pressure by stopping blood cells from sticking together.
In a clinical trial, the subjects ingested standardized garlic powder capsules for four years. The results showed a 9 to 18 percent reduction in plaque volume and a 7 percent decrease in blood pressure. This resulted in an increase in the diameter of the arteries by 4 percent, which is associated with an 18 percent improvement of blood flow. These effects of garlic resulted in a risk reduction for heart attacks and strokes by more than 50 percent.
2. Garlic can lower your blood cholesterol
Studies indicate that the populations that eat garlic consistently have the lowest level of blood cholesterol. Pennsylvania State University showed that men with high total blood cholesterol were able to lower its concentration by 7 percent and LDL, the bad cholesterol, by 10 percent when taking garlic supplements. The study indicated that the sulfur compounds in garlic were responsible for the results, especially S-allylcysteine, which prevents the formation of cholesterol by the liver.
3. Garlic can lower your blood platelets
Platelets are tiny cells in the blood that, when arteries get damaged, rush to the lesion site to repair them. They become sticky and form a clot. Unfortunately, although platelets’ intentions are good, these clots are the first step toward the formation of a thrombus, an accumulation of platelets and protein. A thrombus may in time obstruct the flow of blood in the blood vessels. Studies have shown that small doses of garlic can prevent platelets from becoming sticky and piling up together. In a study carried out by Liverpool John Moores University, the subjects experienced a reduction of platelet stickiness after ingesting 5 milliliters of garlic extract per day for 13 weeks.
4. Garlic can reduce your plaque in the arteries
Plaque starts to form when arteries are damaged. It is made up of mounds of fat and debris deposited in the wall of the arteries that reduce the space available for blood to circulate. Plaque keeps growing and with time may block the flow of blood in the arteries.
One study showed that continuous intake of high doses of garlic powder capsules for four years reduced the plaque volume by 5 to 18 percent. It is also a fact that most people between 50 and 80 years of age have an increase in the amount of plaque. During the four years this study lasted, the volume of plaque remained constant in people within this age frame demonstrating that garlic has a preventive as well as a curative role in heart disease.
5. Garlic is an antioxidant
Garlic has been shown to protect blood vessels from the destructive effects of free radicals. Ankara University of Turkey conducted a study to investigate the effects of garlic extract on the oxidation of red blood cells. For six months, 11 patients with atherosclerosis ingested a daily dose of 1 milliliter of garlic extract per kilogram of body weight. The study showed a reduction on the level of oxidation of red blood cells in the patients.
How to get the medicinal properties out of garlic
To get the medicinal properties of fresh garlic, however, you must follow several steps, a “protocol” as I call it before consuming it. Here is what you need to do
– Peel the cloves
– Cut them in small pieces
– Crush them in a mortar.
– After you have crushed the garlic, let it sit uncovered in the mortar for 10 or 15 minutes before you put it in the food. This allows the formation of allicin, a compound necessary to unleash the medicinal properties of garlic.
Remember that people around the world, especially those who enjoy few chronic diseases, use garlic extensively in their daily diets. A truly wonder of nature with more than 200 chemical compounds, garlic has been a crucial contributor to the curative effects of the Mediterranean diet. So, how about going back to the basics and put some garlic in your life as a preventive measure for heart disease?