Adding garlic to meals could ward off heart disease

What is cardiovascular disease?

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Consuming garlic as part of your diet may help to prevent problems with your heart and blood vessels, according to many studies. The food was found by researchers to offer “cardiovascular protection” by slashing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Over the years, researchers have been trying to learn more about how to offset heart disease, which is responsible for more than 160,000 deaths a year.

The use of garlic has received lots of attention. These days, its positive effects are well recognised by academics.

One study from 2016, led by Karin Ried of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine, Melbourne, found that garlic supplements were able to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension and slash cholesterol levels.

High blood pressure – or hypertension – is a major cause of diseases that affect your heart and blood vessels, known as cardiovascular diseases.

High cholesterol is also a major cause. When there’s too much cholesterol in your blood, it builds up to form plaques, which can make it difficult for blood to travel through your arteries.

If the plaques break off from the walls of your blood vessels they can trigger a blood clot, which causes a heart attack or stroke.

Ried’s study looked at dozens of experiments about the effect of garlic between 1955 and December 2013 to come up with a strong overall conclusion about the benefits of garlic.

It looked at 20 trials that involved 970 study participants – who were either given a placebo or garlic supplements. The dose of garlic people was given ranged from 12.3 milligrams to 3050 milligrams.

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Garlic was associated with an average decrease in systolic blood pressure of around 5.1mmHg and an average decrease in diastolic pressure of 2.5mmHg – although this average varied between studies.

Systolic blood pressure refers to the blood pressure during the part of a heartbeat when the organ is contracting and pushing blood from the heart into the arteries.

Diastolic blood pressure on the other hand is the pressure when your heart is resting between heartbeats.

Healthy blood pressure consists of systolic blood pressure of less than 120mmHg and diastolic blood pressure of less than 80mmHg.

The study also noted that garlic could be effective in reducing total and “bad” LDL cholesterol by roughly 10 percent.

Another review, also published in the Journal of Nutrition, found similar findings. But the review also found that as well as reducing risk factors, garlic reduced “markers” of atherosclerosis (the build-up of plaque in the coronary artery).

Researchers Ravi Varshney, from the University of Saskatchewon in Canada, and Matthew J Budoff from UCLA stated: “Garlic supplementation has the potential for cardiovascular protection based on risk factor reduction (hypertension and total cholesterol) and surrogate markers (CRP, PWV, and CAC) of atherosclerosis.”

However, it acknowledged that “larger studies” were warranted to test the effects even further.

A lot of other dietary changes and behavioural changes can contribute to healthy blood pressure and cholesterol level as well.

The NHS suggests a low-fat, high-fibre diet. This diet should consist of “plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (five portions a day) and whole grains.

It also recommends eating less than six grams of salt per day. Too much salt, it notes, can hike up your blood pressure.

Cutting out high saturated fat foods is important too. Foods high in saturated fat include meat pies, sausages and fatty cuts of meat, butter, lard, cream, hard cheese, cakes and biscuits.

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