Did you know garlic naturally reduces blood pressure? Find out how garlic supports heart health and how to integrate garlic into a high blood pressure diet.
It's amazing how many nutrients are packed into a single glove of garlic: 33 sulfur compounds, 17 amino acids, antioxidants such as germanium and selenium, and multiple vitamins and minerals. These beneficial chemical compounds, including a substance called allicin, give garlic its unmistakable odor as well as its pharmacological edge in reducing blood pressure and preventing cardiovascular disease.
Think of this herb as a multivitamin—not only is it full of nutrients, it's useful for a host of ailments, including enhancing blood thinning (to prevent blood clots), reducing blood pressure levels, and lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Research Shows Garlic Reduces Blood Pressure and Prevents Disease
Clinical research has determined that garlic inhibits platelet aggregation (stickiness and clumping), which helps thin the blood much like aspirin or thrombolytic drugs do. In a double-blind research study, patients given garlic demonstrated thinner, more slippery blood when compared to matched controls. Garlic reduces blood pressure, and also reduces fibrinogen (a blood clotting component), preventing the formation of blood clots. Clumped platelets can render you vulnerable to heart attack and cerebrovascular strokes, and garlic's ability to reduce blood pressure helps lower the risk of these heart issues.
Garlic in a High Blood Pressure Diet
I recommend the inclusion of garlic in a high blood pressure diet. Since this herb's chemistry is so complex, researchers aren't sure how it helps reduce blood pressure, but my patients and I have been pleased with the results.
Garlic's antihypertensive effect may be related to its antioxidant and sulfur content. But some studies suggest that garlic reduces blood pressure levels by increasing the dilation of blood vessels and reducing peripheral vascular resistance. Others indicate that garlic's antihypertensive value may be related to its ability to prevent the digestive system from turning fat into cholesterol.
In fact, eating one-half to one clove of garlic daily or taking a garlic supplement can reduce your cholesterol levels by about 9 percent to 12 percent. Numerous double-blind, placebo-controlled studies attest to garlic's ability to lower serum cholesterol and triglycerides (by approximately 15 percent) while increasing HDL ("good" cholesterol) levels at the same time.
The Best Types of Garlic to Reduce High Blood Pressure
Although evidence to date indicates that raw, cold-aged garlic offers the greatest medicinal value, studies have also demonstrated that cooked garlic is effective. The highest quality is grown organically.
Eating garlic has few side effects: some people are allergic to it and others may experience some stomach or intestinal upset. If garlic breath is a problem, try chewing fresh parsley, rosemary, or fennel. Freshly squeezed lemon, a piece of grapefruit, or an orange peel may also assuage garlic's pungent odor. Side effects aside, when it comes to reducing blood pressure and all-around heart protection, eating garlic is a winner.