Here is an idea: Hook ourselves up to garlic IVs! It would sure beat the side effects of the anti-cholesterol statin drugs if it worked. Garlic and onion have an international reputation as remedies for lowering blood pressure and generally improving the health of the cardiovascular system, but recent research that supports the lore about garlic reducing cholesterol is so impressive that research scientists advocate its daily use for this purpose.
A study was conducted on two groups who were fed garlic for six months, one consisting of 20 healthy volunteers and the other of 62 patients with coronary heart disease and raised serum cholesterol. Beneficial changes were found in all involved and reached a peak at the end of eight months. The improvement in cholesterol levels persisted throughout the two months of clinical follow-up.
The clinicians concluded that the essential oil of garlic possessed a distinct hypolipidemic, or fat-reducing, action in both healthy people and patients with coronary heart disease. When garlic oil is fed to animals maintained on high fat-high cholesterol diets, cholesterol levels are significantly reduced, often nearing those seen in untreated control animals. This suggests that garlic oil enhances the breakdown of dietary cholesterol and fatty acids.
Great attention has been given by Indian research workers to the value of such findings in humans. In one study, a group of volunteers were given a fat-rich diet for seven days; on the eighth day the fasting blood was analyzed for cholesterol and other fats. They were then given a fat-rich diet with garlic for seven days and on the 15th day the fasting blood was analyzed again. On the fat-rich diet the cholesterol levels were significantly increased as compared to normal diet. When garlic was added to the fat-rich diet for seven days, it significantly reduced serum cholesterol levels.
Garlic also reduces the tendency for unnecessary clotting to occur within the blood vessels. Traditional use of onion as well as garlic in the treatment of hypertension is now being supported by research. Onion oil was recently found to contain a blood pressure-lowering prostaglandin.
The blood pressure-normalizing and cholesterol-lowering actions of garlic are not lost in cooking, unlike its antimicrobial effects.
Cayenne pepper and other plants that contain the phenolic compound capsaicin lower blood cholesterol levels, as does the spice fenugreek. Caraway is another aromatic spice with demonstrable cholesterol-lowering properties.
Editor’s note: We are not advocating that you go off of any medications, or begin using garlic in any unusual way.
Try getting more garlic with these great recipes:
Adapted from Herbal Prescriptions after 50 by David Hoffmann (Inner Traditions, 2007). Copyright (c) 2007 by David Hoffmann. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.
Adapted from Herbal Prescriptions after 50 by David Hoffmann (Inner Traditions, 2007).