Garlic generally gets a bad rap, due mostly to its pungent smell, but this member of the allium, or onion, family actually has many medicinal properties and has been used for centuries by almost every known civilization to treat a number of conditions. One of the areas where garlic is known to have a significant positive effect is your cardiovascular health.
That’s right, simply put, garlic can be very good for your heart. So what makes it so powerful and how is it specifically related to maintaining good cardiovascular health? The answer lies in the plant’s chemical makeup. Garlic contains a sulfuric compound called allicin, which is responsible for the strong smell that the plant gives off.
Allicin is released when garlic is chopped, crushed or chewed. It can lose its potency during drying or processing, so most doctors and homeopaths suggest using fresh garlic to get the strongest health benefits. A single clove of fresh garlic each day can provide enough cardiac benefits for the average adult.
Garlic’s Benefits For The Heart And Body
Early on, the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans all recognized the importance of garlic and began incorporating its use medicinally. In more modern times, such prominent names in medicine as Louis Pasteur and Albert Schweitzer heralded the antifungal, antibacterial and other medicinal effects of garlic.
Given that heart disease, and specifically high blood pressure, is one of the most common and most dangerous health conditions, it is easy to see why anything which can help to improve cardiovascular health is worth consideration. To that end, scientists at the Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine conducted studies into the various effects of fresh garlic on the heart.
What they found was startling. Garlic has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce levels of LDL, or “bad”, cholesterol. In fact, studies have shown a reduction in LDL cholesterol by as much as 15% in individuals who took garlic supplements. Those effects could be increased even more with the consumption of fresh garlic and its heightened levels of allicin.
Along with these significant benefits, the allicin contained in garlic can also help to reduce atherosclerosis, a thickening of the artery walls; reduce fatty deposits in the arteries and veins; normalize the levels of lipoproteins in the blood; reduce blood clotting and prevent inflammation. Allicn is also believed to have some antioxidant properties, meaning it can help rid the body of accumulated toxins.
Can you take a garlic supplement or is it better to eat it fresh?
Although garlic makes everything taste better, it’s difficult to eat all the time, especially if you are planning to kiss someone at some point in the day.:) Therefore to reap the benefits without having to turn everyone off you can take garlic in supplement form just like any other daily vitamin. Just make sure you choose a high quality supplement and that it is in an appropriate form, and also contains high amount of the active ingredient allicin, where all of the therapeutic value lies.
So you can see that garlic can be used for far more than just warding off vampires. This is one of the most potent natural medicines known to man. It has been linked to everything from fighting the common cold to treating Alzheimer’s and, as we’ve seen here, to improving cardiovascular health. So the next time you’re shopping, consider adding a little fresh garlic to your list…it just might do your heart good.