Mediterranean Diet: Can Garlic Protect Us From More Than Vampires

Published on 30/06/2008 in Spanish Lifestyle

Mediterranean dietIn the past, people would rub garlic on doors and window frames to ward off vampires. And 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 the following ailments:

1. Garlic can lower 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 to prevent high blood pressure by preventing blood cells from sticking together.
 
In a clinical trial, the subjects ingested standardized garlic powder capsules for four years (1). 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 inhibits the formation of cholesterol by the liver (2)
 
3. Garlic can lower 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 (3).

4. Garlic can reduce 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(4).
 
5. Garlic as 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(5).

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”, before consuming it. First peel the cloves, cut them in small pieces, and 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.

Conclusion

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 used for thousand of years as both food and medicine. Many studies have shown that garlic can prevent and reduce heart disease but unfortunately for several decades the widespread use of antibiotics has ignored the medical properties of garlic. Let’s go back to the basics and put some garlic in your life as disease prevention.

References

1. Siegel G, Walter A, Engel S, Walper A, Michel F. Pleiotropic effects of garlic. Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift. 1999;149(8–10):217–24.
2. Yeh YY, Liu L. Cholesterol-lowering effect of garlic extracts and organosulfur compounds: human and animal studies. Journal of Nutrition. 2001 Mar;131(3s):989S–93S. Department of Nutrition, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.
3. Rahman K, Billington D. Dietary supplementation with aged garlic extract inhibits ADP-induced platelet aggregation in humans. Journal of Nutrition. 2000

Written by: Emilia Klapp

About the author:

Emilia Klapp has a Bachelor in Nutrition Science and is certified as a Registered Dietitian by the American Dietetic Association. With her book “Your Heart Needs the Mediterranean Diet”, she has helped many people to prevent high blood pressure and high cholesterol. For more information about the author and the book you can login at www.Mediterraneanheart.com.




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Comments:

bluefox said:
01 July 2008 @ 10:15

brillient article e.o.s. really enjoyed reading that, as a "new wave garlic muncher", (i love it)and along with the piece about e.v. olive oil, i'mm feeling a 100 percent fitter already, and as a blood pressure & cholesteral pill popper, you never know, might be able to bin them one day, many thank's again. regard's ray heathcote, fuerte (bluefox)

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