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Freshly cut garlic boosts heart health

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Fresh garlic and heart health

New research shows that freshly cut or crushed garlic is better than cooked or dried garlic when it comes to protecting the heart. Scientists at the Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, report the first findings that the heart healthy effects of garlic come from hydrogen sulfide, released just after garlic is cut or crushed.

Freshly cut garlic offers an alternative means to boost heart health. Hydrogen sulfide is a beneficial chemical that relaxes blood vessels and improves blood flow. Processed and cooked garlic loses its ability to release hydrogen sulfide.

According to the authors, “These results are potentially important, as there is a growing interest among the heart patients to use natural and complementary medicine. Current evidence indicates that one in three American adults use some form of alternative medicine. The results of the present study strongly suggest that using fresh garlic would provide maximal and added benefits to the cardiovascular patients”.

For the research, Dipak K. Das and colleagues induced heart attacks in two groups of lab rats. They gave either freshly crushed or processed garlic to two groups of rats for thirty days prior. Next they studied how well the rat’s hearts recovered.

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Das explains, "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." The rats fed freshly cut garlic had less heart damage than those given processed garlic.

The study is the first to compare the two forms of garlic for health effect. The findings challenge the notion that garlic’s health benefits comes from antioxidants.

The study authors also note that “while raw garlic is highly effective in reducing serum cholesterol and triglyceride, boiled garlic has minimal effects”. Raw garlic could help cut risk of first or repeat heart attack by keeping cholesterol levels in check.

The chemical reaction that releases hydrogen sulfide when garlic is chewed diminishes with processing and cooking. Freshly cut garlic provides better protection for the heart because it releases more hydrogen sulfide, compared to processed garlic.

Consider adding freshly cut garlic gloves to your diet. Doing so can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and is now shown to be superior to processed garlic for protecting your heart.

J. Agric. Food Chem.