Banish Heart Disease with Fresh Garlic
There seems to be no end to the fascination with vampires. They’re all the rage in books, movies and television shows these days. According to legend, they’re heartless immortal creatures that can be repelled by garlic. But, of course, they’re completely imaginary.
There’s nothing imaginary about garlic’s effects on the risk of heart disease, though.
Research shows that compounds in garlic may help protect not against vampire attack, but against something far more serious: heart attacks. In fact, a handful of compounds in garlic have been shown to help protect the heart and blood vessels from the inflammatory condition known as endothelial dysfunction. And that’s the root cause of atherosclerosis, which underlies most heart disease.
Garlic extract is among the top-selling dietary supplements. But research suggests that what I’ve been saying all along is true: Fresh is best. According to research on animals used to model human heart disease, prepared garlic and fresh garlic both helped protect heart muscle from damage after a simulated heart attack, compared to no garlic. But fresh garlic did an even better job of protecting the heart than dried garlic extract. The researchers think the difference has to do with a chemical that’s released from fresh, but not dried, garlic.
All of which goes to show that when in doubt, fresh whole plant foods are best. There’s nothing wrong with popping a dried garlic dietary supplement. But don’t neglect the power of freshly crushed garlic when you’re cooking. It adds savory depth to many a dish, and it just might help you stick around to enjoy your next meal.
Khatua TN, Adela R, Banerjee SK. Garlic and cardioprotection: insights into the molecular mechanisms. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2013 Jun;91(6):448-58. doi: 10.1139/cjpp-2012-0315. Epub 2013 Mar 6.
Subhendu Mukherjee, Istvan Lekli, Shyamal Goswami, Dipak K. Das. Freshly crushed garlic is a superior cardioprotective agent than processed garlic. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Aug. 12, 2009.