Garlic and Cholesterol Reduction Interesting Facts
Garlic is thought to contain some of the most powerful natural compounds amongst alternative options for natural healing. Throughout history, it has been used for everything from deafness to leprosy, and it is known as a natural blood thinner. Unfortunately today it is best known use merely to flavor foods like meats and sauces. However, the powerful substances that garlic contains still remain, and may be showing promise for another common health problem – high cholesterol. The relationship between garlic and cholesterol is only beginning to be explored. However promising new studies point to the bulb’s potential link to lowering cholesterol and heart disease risk.
Discovery Health explains that studies regarding garlic and cholesterol are scattered, small and often conflicting, however most point to one of garlic’s powerful compounds, allicin, as the central means by which the bulbs may fight off high levels of LDL. An early study concluded that garlic was able to lower bad cholesterol numbers by between nine and twelve percent. However, a study conducted a decade later revised this original estimate to a more conservative four to six percent.
The National Institutes of Health explain this inconsistent data and point to newer studies that may prove in fact that garlic can play a role in cholesterol reduction. Citing a study that used aged garlic extract, participants enjoyed LDL reductions by ten percent, and an overall cholesterol reduction of seven percent. The mechanism of action by which garlic and cholesterol are related is further explained by the types of compounds found in garlic that produced the most benefit. The water soluble compound, S-allylcsteine when combined with other compounds found in types of garlic extract was able to inhibit the liver’s production of cholesterol in this study.
But, before you go assuming that garlic may be the new best supplement to lower cholesterol, there are some facts to be considered. While the NIH study did find that extracts showed promise LDL reduction, Discovery Health points out that fresh garlic itself boasts the most potent concentration of the purported beneficial compounds. And, this fact translates to dietary considerations for garlic and cholesterol as well. While it may seem easy to incorporate garlic into diets to lower cholesterol by tossing it into spaghetti sauce and soup, Discovery Health also points out that raw, not cooked garlic, is the best option in order to gain the most allicin. The truth may be that as opposed to a new option for the best supplement to lower cholesterol, fresh and raw garlic may actually have more potential than anything pressed into a capsule.
So what are some facts to consider regarding garlic and cholesterol to determine if using it may be right for you?
Some studies that have shown garlic’s positive effects on cholesterol have only lasted a limited amount of time. In some cases, the achieved reduction lasted six months or less.
WebMD explains that in people with moderately high levels of LDL cholesterol, garlic and garlic cholesterol lowering supplements may have little to no effect, and that previous positive outcomes may have only been observed in cases of lower but still elevated LDL levels.
Garlic has shown evidence for slowing the progression of atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing or hardening of the arteries. In conjunction with the possible link between garlic and cholesterol reduction, the herb may in time be considered quite a heart healthy food for this combination of effects.
There are few to no reported side effects to ingesting garlic, and it is considered safe in most instances. However, gastrointestinal upset following consumption and a mildly increased risk of bleeding disorders have been attributed to garlic’s use.
Herbal remedies are not a means to lower cholesterol fast, they work slowly but surely. In persons with heart disease or high risk levels of bad cholesterol, medications are often needed and necessary in order to lower cholesterol fast and reduce the risk of heart related conditions and sudden illnesses like heart attacks. However, when combined with a healthy diet, lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, and an increase in physical activity, the powerful compounds found in herbs like garlic may pave the path to the healthful management of LDL cholesterol levels. As more is learned about the relationship between garlic and cholesterol, it is possible that the pungent plant part may play an even bigger role in heart health than previously imagined.