It may not be the best thing for your breath, but garlic sure does help your heart. The idea of using garlic medicinally is not a new idea. Garlic bulbs were used in China and India as blood thinners and they were also used to treat cervical cancer and dysentery. Also, our March 2009 article, Grow Heart Health, listed garlic as an herbal mainstay for heart health. However, a new study has learned more about this powerful herb.
The Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine discovered how freshly crushed garlic, as opposed to dried or cooked garlic, protects the heart. Freshly cut garlic generates hydrogen sulfide. This gas, when used in excess, can become poisonous but, when used sparingly, functions as a compound that can protect the heart.
Health researcher Yulia Berry says that hydrogen sulfide acts as a chemical messenger allowing blood vessels to relax and flow more freely. It usually disappears when garlic is dried, processed or cooked.
Dr. Dipak K. Das led the study, which published these findings in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The researchers gave freshly crushed garlic to one group of lab rats and processed garlic to another group. They studied how the rats reacted and recovered from simulated heart attacks. “Both crushed and processed garlic reduced damage from lack of oxygen, but the fresh garlic group had a significantly greater effect on restoring good blood flow in the aorta and increased pressure in the left ventricle of the heart,” Das says in the CNN article, Protect your heart with fresh garlic.
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Although both groups fared better with garlic the rats given freshly crushed garlic recovered from their simulated heart attacks more quickly and had better blood flow.
Garlic can help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar levels. Garlic can also decrease platelet and blood clotting, two of the most common causes of strokes and heart attacks.
The American Dietetic Association suggests an individual must take 600mg to 900mg, or 1 fresh clove, a day to see the health benefits of garlic. It's worth the bad breath!
Incorporate more garlic into your lifestyle with these healthy recipes: