Garlic is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, which has been proven to be the most heart-healthy diet a person can follow.i The research is clear, if you want a healthy heart, eat garlic! But it can be difficult to get enough garlic every day to make a difference. Also, some people don’t like the taste and smell, so that’s when it may be time to take a high-quality garlic supplement daily. Here’s why the heart loves garlic.
Keeping the heart healthy and pumping strong throughout a lifetime requires that these main systems stay balanced and within the normal range:ii
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar
Garlic has been shown to help balance these systems, especially blood pressure and cholesterol, to help the heart stay healthy. It does this by helping to:iii, iv
- Keep the arteries supple and not stiff.
- Keep C-reactive protein and fibrinogen, markers of inflammation, in check.
- Reduce plaque deposits.
- Balance blood pressure.
- Inhibit cholesterol biosynthesis and oxidation.
- Improve the cholesterol profile.
There is a great deal of research demonstrating garlic’s heart-healthy benefits. A 2021 study showed that 400 mg per day of a garlic supplement helped control blood pressure, lowered cholesterol, and reduced the risk of blood clots in patients aged 40 to 60.v This is consistent with a 2016 study showing that garlic was able to lower blood pressure in adults aged 30 to 55 who also had high blood pressure.vi In addition, a 2021 analysis of 12 different randomized controlled trials involving more than 500 adults showed that garlic supplementation reduced blood pressure and cholesterol.vii Another 2021 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study featuring 110 people showed that garlic supplementation not only reduced blood pressure, it also reduced high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, which is an inflammatory marker specific to heart health.viii
According to a 2016 analysis of 20 different studies, garlic supplementation successfully reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, which is considered the most harmful form of cholesterol.ix
Another risk factor that can cause heart issues is the build-up of plaque in the arteries which causes them to harden. Preliminary research shows that garlic can help protect the arteries from hardening.x
When choosing a garlic supplement, be sure to pick one that contains the active compound allicin. Allicin is the oily liquid in garlic that gives it that distinctive odor. In addition, the capsule should be enteric-coated so the allicin can survive the stomach acid and successfully make its way to the small intestines where it can provide the most benefit.
Garlic is great for the heart. If you’re not eating enough garlic each day, consider taking a high-quality garlic supplement.
i Martinez-Gonzalez MA, Gea A, Ruiz-Canela. The Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular health. Circulation Research. 2019;124:779-798. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.118.313348
ii Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart disease. 2019, Dec 9. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/risk_factors.htm
iii Sobenin IA, Myasoedova VA, Iltchuk MI, et al. Therapeutic effects of garlic in cardiovascular atherosclerotic disease. Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines. 2019;17(10):721-728. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1875536419300883
iv Varshney R, Budoff MJ. Garlic and heart disease. J Nutr. 2016;146(2):416S-421S. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26764327/
v Nagre S, Bhosle K. Garlic supplement lowers blood pressure in 40 – 60 years old hypertensive individuals, regulates oxidative stress, plasma cholesterol and protrombin index. Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine and Cardiology. 8(2):041-047. https://www.peertechzpublications.com/articles/JCMC-8-268.php
vi Verma, M, Bhardwaj K, Verma N. Effect of long term supplementation of active garlic allicin in reducing blood pressure in hypertensive subjects. Journal of Hypertension. 2016;34. https://journals.lww.com/jhypertension/Abstract/2016/09001
vii Mulawarman R, Trifitriana M, Felani M, et al. Garlic effect on reduce blood pressure and cholesterol in patients with and without hypertension: a systemic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Hypertension. 2021;39. https://journals.lww.com/jhypertension/Fulltext/2021/05002
viii Soleimani D, Moosavian S, Zolfaghari H, Paknahad Z. Effect of garlic powder supplementation on blood pressure and hs-C-reactive protein among nonalcoholic fatty liver disease patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Food Science & Nutrition. 2021;9(7):3556-3562. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/fsn3.2307
ix Ried K. Garlic lowers blood pressure in hypertensive individuals, regulates serum cholesterol, and stimulates immunity: an updated meta-analysis. The Journal of Nutrition. 2016;146(2):389S-396S. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/146/2/389S/4584698?login=false
x Banerjee SK, Maulik SK. Effect of garlic on cardiovascular disorders: a review. Nutr J. 2002;1:4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC139960/