Why aged garlic extract is good for your heart
There’s no doubt garlic is good for you, but aged garlic extract might be even better for heart health.
Ancient Egyptians recognised the medicinal benefits of garlic and Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, prescribed garlic for a raft of respiratory and digestive problems.
More recently, garlic’s ability to reduce hardening of the arteries, high cholesterol and high blood pressure – all risk factors for heart disease – has been well-researched.
And it seems aged garlic extract – available as a supplement – is a particularly potent weapon in the fight against heart disease.
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What exactly is aged garlic extract?
“Just as we have a variety of red wines and there are differences between a shiraz, a pinot and a cabernet sauvignon, there are many species of garlic,” says community pharmacist and accredited herbalist Gerald Quigley.
“Aged garlic extract is pickled in alcohol and the ageing process enhances its health benefits.”
What can aged garlic extract do for your health?
Studies show aged garlic extract can help reduce high blood pressure, particularly in people who have uncontrolled hypertension. Around one in four adults has hypertension, which contributes to about 40 per cent of cardiovascular-related deaths.
An Australian study found aged garlic extract “has the potential to improve arterial stiffness, inflammation and other cardiovascular markers in patients with elevated levels”.
US researchers found it helped reduce the build-up of soft plaque in the arteries of people with metabolic syndrome – a collection of conditions that increase the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
“Aged garlic extract brings benefits in reducing atherosclerosis, in modifying blood cholesterol levels, in helping to balance blood pressure with or without medication, and it seems to help with circulation and to rebalance blood sugar. All these effects are backed up by research over the past 10 to 20 years,” says Gerald.
“It can be a useful supplement for people who are seeing a gradual rise in their blood pressure and whose GP may be saying they need to keep an eye on that, and it can help people with a family history of hypertension.”
Don’t expect a dramatic plunge in blood pressure, though – “more a gentle rebalancing”.
It’s also important to remember it’s not a panacea for cardiovascular health, says Gerald.
“It works in conjunction with a balanced diet, controlling stress as much as possible, and doing half an hour of exercise a day.”
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Written by Sarah Marinos