It's simply amazing how many nutrients are packed into a single clove 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 a pharmacological edge in cardiovascular protection.
For starters, garlic is an excellent natural blood thinner. So effective, in fact, that I instruct some patients to take it easy on the garlic if they are on a pharmaceutical blood thinner like Coumadin. Keeping your blood thin is key to cardiovascular health because thick, sticky blood that moves slowly through the circulatory system feeds the inflammatory process that damages arteries and increases the risk of clot formation.
For those specifically with high cholesterol or blood pressure, garlic has a proven track record for lowering both. Garlic contains natural phytonutrients that inhibit enzymes involved in the metabolism of dietary fats, thereby giving the herb its ability to lower cholesterol. And an Australian review of 11 studies in which patients with high blood pressure were randomly given garlic or a placebo found that garlic can lower blood pressure as effectively as some drugs.
Grab The Garlic
There's an old saying among Italian chefs that there's never enough garlic in a dish. I certainly agree. Many of my favorite recipes include a healthy dose of garlic. For example, I always chop up at least one clove when I make tomato sauce. But since four cloves of garlic a day is what is recommended to achieve a noticeable blood pressure-lowering effect, I also suggest that you include garlic in your salads, soups, stews, and stir-frys. Your nose may not appreciate the goodness of garlic, but your heart certainly will.