Garlic to Lower Cholesterol
The use of garlic to lower cholesterol has been ongoing for many, many years.
Garlic is said to help with high cholesterol by lowering the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the 'bad' cholesterol) as well as increasing the amount of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the 'good' cholesterol). It also reduces triglyceride levels.
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A note about using Garlic to Lower Cholesterol
Herbs are God and nature's gifts to us. While the use of herbs and herb remedies has brought excellent results for many people, do note that their health benefits may be limited when they are used in isolation. However, when combined with some basic dietary and lifestyle good health habits, such as a full body detox and a proper understanding and application of nutrition, the impact on one's health will be greatly magnified.
In natural health and healing, we believe that the body has the ability to heal itself of any disease, even supposedly incurable diseases. We also believe in holistic health and healing, as we realize that different parts of the human body are highly interlinked, often beyond Mans understanding. It is thus a good idea to apply these fundamental health steps no matter how remote or unrelated a health condition may seem.
These effects are said to be created by phytochemicals present in garlic, which seem to have the same effect as statin drugs; statins are cholesterol lowering drugs and garlic is said to be a natural form of statin. Garlic does not have any significant side effects and using garlic for lowering cholesterol in the body is probably a safer method.
Because it thins the blood, garlic also helps to lower the risk of getting heart attacks.
So, actually, does garlic lower cholesterol? Well, according to some sources, the findings of studies are divided.
Studies which show that it is effective to use garlic to lower cholesterol
There are quite a number of studies which show that using garlic to lower cholesterol does indeed work.
For example, in a study carried out at Munich University in Germany, those who were put on a low-fat diet experienced a drop in cholesterol of about 10%. When garlic was added to their diet, their cholesterol levels went down by another 10%.
One particular study looked at 220 persons. Those who took 800mg of powdered garlic for 4 months experienced drops in their cholesterol and triglyceride levels, by 12% and 17% respectively. The placebo group did not experience any significant reduction.
Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that heart disease patients who were given garlic oil daily for a period of 10 months experienced a steady decrease in LDL cholesterol levels as well as a steady increase in HDL cholesterol levels. These changes, of course, offer protection against heart disease.
Another example of a study which proved the effectiveness of using garlic to lower cholesterol involved 261 persons and investigated the effects of 800mg of dried garlic for a period of 16 weeks. Although the amount used was relatively small - equivalent of about one small clove of garlic - those who took the garlic experienced a 10% average fall in cholesterol levels.
In epidemiological studies, it has shown up that countries whose people eat higher amounts of garlic suffer less from heart disease, which is of course linked to high cholesterol because excess cholesterol and saturated fats clog up one's arteries.
In 1998, a study by Penn State nutrition researchers further showed a positive link between garlic and cholesterol reduction.
The study found that 3 water-soluble, sulfur-containing compounds in garlic, namely S-allyl cysteine, S-ethyl-cysteine and S-propyl cysteine, decreased cholesterol production by liver cells by between 40% and 60%. Another group of water-soluble compounds, which are glutamate derivatives of S-alk(en)yl cysteines, decreased the production of cholesterol by between 20% and 35%.
All in all, these were quite impressive reductions.
More studies in the 1980s and 1990s proved the positive relationship between garlic and cholesterol reduction, although many of these studies were criticized because the numbers of people investigated were relatively small.
The study in 2007 which blurred the link between garlic and cholesterol
Most recently, a study published in 2007 examined the effects of raw garlic and two well-known garlic supplements, Garlicin and Kyolic. The study did not find any link, and concluded that "none of the forms of garlic used in this study, including raw garlic, when given at an approximate dose of a 4-g clove per day, 6 d/wk for 6 months, had statistically or clinically significant effects on LDL-C or other plasma lipid concentrations in adults with moderate hypercholesterolemia". (LDL-C is low lipoprotein cholesterol, or the so-called 'bad' cholesterol.)
This study is widely quoted as supposedly being disputable proof that there is no truth in the effectiveness of using garlic to lower cholesterol.
Personally, I am not convinced at all by this study. Why? Mainly because the dosage of raw garlic used in this 2007 study was one 4g clove each day. That is quite pathetic. Someone who is trying to eat raw garlic for its medicinal properties should be munching at least 5 to 10 large cloves per day.
Basically, many earlier studies, conducted from as early as the 1920s, had shown a positive relationship between eating garlic and cholesterol level reduction. However, the dosages in those studies were relatively high, said to be between 7 and 28 cloves of garlic a day.
When testing an herb, the quality and quantity used must be right. To prove that using garlic to lower cholesterol works, we need to use a certain quality and quantity of the herb. We cannot let a thirsty man drink 5ml of water and then claim that it is 'scientifically proven' that water does not quench thirst.
How might garlic actually lower cholesterol levels?
Now, how does using garlic to lower cholesterol actually work? A study which was published in the American Society for Microbiology's Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy might have shed some light.
The study reported that allicin in garlic disables the amoebas which cause dysentery by blocking the action of two groups of enzymes - cysteine proteinases and alcohol dehydrogenases. The former enzymes play a big part in infections as they provide the harmful organisms with the means to invade tissues and damage them, while the latter enzymes play an important role in the metabolism and overall survival of these organisms.
The study also found that the blocking action of allicin on the two types of enzymes works when allicin reacts with sulfhydryl (SH) groups, or thiols, which is an important component of the enzymes.
Now, these sulfhydryl (SH) groups are also an important part of certain enzymes which have a role in synthesizing cholesterol in the body. This, then, offers a possible explanation of how allicin in garlic might actually lower cholesterol levels.
Using garlic for lowering cholesterol - how much reduction?
So, if garlic lowers cholesterol, what is the amount of reduction we can expect?
This is not easy to tell. A lot depends on the starting level of cholesterol, the type and quality of garlic used, as well as the amount of garlic consumed.
Basically, a meta-analysis of previous studies conducted in 1993 found that, for those who took garlic, there was an overall average decrease in cholesterol levels of 9%. The corresponding figure for another similar meta-analysis carried in 1996 was 12%.
So, based on previous studies, a figure of about 10% may be a reasonable estimate.
Is garlic cholesterol lowering? Well, it has been used for this purpose for so many years, and some Asian and European countries even prescribe garlic for high cholesterol. Surely there must be a reason why they are using garlic for lowering cholesterol, and why using garlic to lower cholesterol has stood the test of time!
The question 'is garlic cholesterol lowering' will have very different answers, depending on who is providing the reply. Vested interests with profits to lose will say no, of course not, it is not 'scientifically proven'.
On the other hand, natural healers and top herbalists know that using garlic to lower cholesterol works. And they use it, to great effect.
Personally, I go with the latter. Yes, I firmly believe that it is effective to use good quality garlic to lower cholesterol levels.
Garlic Pages | Summary Article | Health Benefits of Garlic | Information | History and Facts of Garlic | Planting, Harvesting, Storing and Preserving Garlic | Eating Garlic | How to Make Garlic Butter - a simple garlic butter recipe | An Easy Garlic Bread Recipe - Making Homemade Garlic Bread | Consuming the Garlic Plant - various ways to do so | Benefits | An Overview of Health Medicinal Benefits of Garlic | Garlic Health Benefits - Some Research and Studies | Garlic for Acne Treatment | Garlic and Blood Pressure | Garlic and Cancer - Is Garlic Anti Cancer? | Garlic to Lower Cholesterol | Garlic for Heart Health | Medicinal Properties of Garlic against Microbes, Harmful Organisms, Bacteria, Fungi, Parasites and Viruses | Side Effects | Possible Garlic Side Effects, Caution and Contraindications
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