There is simply nothing better in the world than freshly baked bread sticks, still warm from the oven and smothered in garlic butter! Mmm….Rachael Ray eat your heart out! A diet of these sinfully delicious bread sticks - especially those dipped in garlic butter – are definitely not on the American Heart Association’s list of things to eat to maintain a healthy heart, weight or low cholesterol. But bread sticks and butter aside, garlic just may be a keeper when it comes to heart health.
Garlic, also known as Allium sativum, has a distinctive smell and taste that people either love or hate. Most spice cabinets aren’t complete without garlic or garlic salt. In addition to its use in spicing up those dishes, garlic has been recognized for more than 2000 years for its medicinal and healing properties. In recent years, garlic has been used by some in the fight against heart disease.
Low-density lipoprotein – often referred to as LDL or "bad" – cholesterol, contributes to the development of plaque buildup in the arteries. If you’re unfamiliar with plaque, then think of it in terms of hard water mineral deposits that build up in your pipes until the drain is completely blocked. The same is true with plaque buildup in your arteries. Left unchecked, plaque buildup leads to the development of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis then leads to perhaps a heart attack, stroke, or even death. (Balch 1)
The proponents of garlic believe that it helps to lower LDL cholesterol levels. Because garlic is an antioxidant, it’s thought that garlic use may prevent free radicals from causing the damage which results in higher LDL cholesterol levels. It’s also believed that garlic promotes the production of high density lipoprotein, or HDL or "good" cholesterol. In addition, garlic is a natural blood thinner which contributes to a healthy circulatory system.
Many research studies seem to support the position that consuming at least one-half to one gram of garlic per day may be beneficial to your heart health and result in lower LDL cholesterol levels.