Garlic has been used by humans for over 7000 years and is one of the earliest recorded plants used by humans in the treatment of disease and the maintenance of health. Despite its small size, garlic is packed full of components that have shown to have a huge variety of health benefits, especially for heart health and it is now widely recognised for its therapeutic use in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease.
For those people suffering with high blood pressure, this little plant can have remarkable effects if eaten regularly and similarly taking a supplement of aged garlic has also shown positive effects on lowering blood pressure. Interestingly wild garlic, which frequents many woodlands in the spring time and whose unmistakable garlicky smell lingers in the air between the trees, actually has higher quantities of heart friendly components such as Adenosine and Ajoene. Both these active components have been shown to help lower blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol levels and one study even showed wild garlic elicited a larger positive effect on blood pressure compared with regular garlic, but more research is needed to confirm this.
Just one gram of wild garlic, taken daily, has been shown to improve blood circulation too, so when you are next in woodland and your nose confirms the wild garlic is in season, ensure you have your foraging basket with you and check out our wild garlic pesto recipe.
Garlic has also shown to be helpful in the prevention of atherosclerosis, the fatty plaque build-up that can occur in the arteries. People who consume garlic, generally show a reduced build-up of this fatty plaque in the arteries, which of course is a very good thing as this can lead to cardiovascular disease.
According to heart UK, 6 out of 10 people have raised or abnormal cholesterol levels now, which of course can increase the risk of suffering heart attacks and strokes. Garlic can improve your heart health this way too. In fact one large, recent research study concluded that for people with slightly elevated cholesterol levels, garlic should be considered as a possible alternative option, with a higher safety profile than conventional cholesterol-lowering medication. This however is not the case for people with high cholesterol levels and it has been suggested that garlic may not have the same therapeutic benefits in everyone and that some people react more positively to it than others in term of its cardiovascular effects. There is certainly a lot to gain by ensuring garlic is part of your regular diet and it is best to consume in its raw form where possible (even bad garlic breath is may be preferable if your heart health is happy!).
RESOURCES & FURTHER READING:
Intake of Garlic and Its Bioactive Components, 2001. The Journal of Nutrition
Wild Garlic has a greater effect than regular garlic on bloood pressure and blood chemistries of rats, 2001. Journal of Urology & Nephrology
Cardiovascular Benefits of Garlic: 2002. Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing
Garlic: Health Benefits & Actions, 2012. BioMedicine
Antioxidant, antidiabetic and hypolipidemic effects of Tulbaghia violacea Harv (Wild garlic) rhizome methanolic extract in a diabetic rat model, 2015. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine