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Cardiovascular Health—How Garlic May Help Keep our Hearts Happy

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Garlic has also been found to help our hearts in a number of ways. For example, several studies have linked regular consumption of garlic to a drop in cholesterol levels. In a 2009 review that looked at 29 clinical trials, researchers found that garlic may indeed reduce cholesterol “to a modest extent.” However, other analyses of several studies did not reach these same conclusions, so more research is probably needed on this topic.

Garlic can also work to make our blood platelets less likely to clump together and stick to the inside of the artery walls. This in turn may reduce the chance that we will develop atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Another A-word associated with garlic—ajoene—is a derivative of our old friend allicin and it seems to have most of the ability to break up the clots.

Garlic may also help our hearts stay healthy and happy by making sure the aorta remains flexible. This is the major artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of our bodies and over time it tends to stiffen up a bit. A small placebo-based study of people 50-80 years old found that taking garlic for at least two years led to aortas that were more flexible. And a 2008 meta-analysis found that garlic may lower systolic blood pressure readings in people with elevated blood pressure, but interestingly, not in people whose blood pressure is already in the normal range.

The garlic-cancer connection is interesting as well. A 2001 review of 19 studies concluded that regular intake of garlic in either raw, cooked, or supplement form can help prevent colorectal and stomach cancers.

Garlic is sold in supplement form and you may purchase it at pretty much any grocery store, health food shop, or vitamin company. I personally like to take garlic supplements on a pretty regular basis in an effort to keep my immune system boosted up. I have found a brand of garlic that I really like because it contains alfalfa, which acts as a natural deodorizer to the garlic.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.