Cardiovascular disease which implies, strokes and heart attacks, is one of the World’s biggest killers with 10,000 deaths associated with the disease in Ireland last year. Hypertension or high blood pressure can be one of the first signs of that the cardiovascular system is malfunctioning.
There is a mounting body of scientific evidence on the positive effects of garlic on the cardiovascular system. Garlic contains the sulphur containing compound allicin which is responsible for its health boosting effects, which is only formed when you crush fresh garlic as it breaks down the compound diallyl sulphide. Therefore, the majority of research uses garlic powder, oil or aged garlic extract which naturally contains allicin while also lacks the odor synonymous with fresh garlic. See below for a recent study on the effect of garlic supporting its benefits on the cardiovascular system.
What you need to know: If you are suffering from high blood pressure or have a history of cardiovascular disease in the family supplement daily with garlic.
How to use: Supplement with 1 g of garlic powder daily, making sure it contains allicin. Alternatively, consume 2-4 fresh crushed cloves of garlic in your food daily.
Recipe: The majority of my dinner recipes are packed full of garlic. However, here is one of my favourites as it is tasty and quick to prepare, Lemon & Garlic Chicken, enjoy ☺
The Science part: A recent meta-analysis (a collection of studies) which examined the results of 7 randomly controlled trials found that garlic supplementation significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure in hypertensive patients. While another study found that garlic supplementation over a 24 week period was just as effective as the drug Atenolol at reducing blood pressure.
The mechanism by which garlic exerts its potential cardiovascular protection is thought to be linked to the antioxidant capacity of allicin. The compound protects the blood cells and vessels from anti-inflammatory and oxidative stress, which is a key factor in increasing the risk for heart attack and stroke. It may also influence the enzyme, Angiotensin-converting Enzyme, ACE, which works to increase blood pressure.