Garlic is one of the world’s oldest and best-loved natural remedies – it has traditionally been used to reduce chance of infections, improve digestion and (of course) repel vampires.
Today, there’s an increasing amount of evidence to show it can support our heart health too. So how can this tasty ingredient help look after your ticker?
A number of studies – explored below – have found the benefits of garlic include tackling high blood pressure, reducing high cholesterol, and protecting against heart disease and atherosclerosis (when fatty deposits build up in the arteries, increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke).
And don’t worry if you’re not a fan of taste. A lot of the research was carried out on tablet forms, which is good news for your heart and your breath.
Blood pressure records the force with which the blood pushes against the artery walls: systolic pressure is the pressure during heart beats, diastolic pressure is the pressure between beats.In a 2012 Cochrane review on the effects of garlic on high blood pressure, researchers concluded that – based on two trials in 87 patients with hypertension – ‘garlic reduces mean supine systolic and diastolic blood pressure by approximately 10-12 mmHg and 6-9 mmHg’.4
Handpicked content: 5 simple ways to reduce blood pressure
We need some cholesterol for our bodies to function normally, but too much can build up in artery walls. If this happens, in a heart disease symptom called atherosclerosis, it can slow down or even block blood flow, increasing our risk of heart attack.However, garlic may help lower our cholesterol levels too. According to a meta-analysis of 16 trials involving 952 subjects by the University of Oxford in 1994, garlic supplements were shown to reduce total cholesterol levels by an average of 12% compared with those taking a placebo.5 Another study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2016 found that taking an aged garlic supplement significantly reduced the build-up of plaques in the arteries of 27 patients, but not in those taking a placebo.6
Handpicked content: What causes heart disease and am I at risk?
Handpicked content: 7 great garlic recipes for every day of the weekShop our Vitamins & Supplements range.
1. British Heart Foundation. CVD STATISTICS – BHF UK FACTSHEET. Available from: https://www.bhf.org.uk/-/media/files/research/heart-statistics/bhf-cvd-statistics---uk-factsheet.pdf
2. Lawes CM, Vander Hoorn S, Rodgers A. Global burden of blood-pressure-related disease, 2001. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18456100/
3. Ried K, Fakler P. Potential of garlic (Allium sativum) in lowering high blood pressure: mechanisms of action and clinical relevance Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4266250/
4. Stabler SN, et al. Garlic for the prevention of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in hypertensive patients. Available from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD007653.pub2/abstract
5. Silagy C, Neil A. Garlic as a lipid lowering agent –a meta-analysis. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8169881
6. Matsumoto S, et al. Aged Garlic Extract Reduces Low Attenuation Plaque in Coronary Arteries of Patients with Metabolic Syndrome in a Prospective Randomized Double-Blind Study. Available from: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/early/2016/01/13/jn.114.202424.abstract