Did you know that garlic reduces high cholesterol and greatly decreases the risk of heart disease? We chat with Dr Karin Ried, Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide, and Research Director at the National Institute of Integrative Medicine, about why you should increase your intake of garlic.
Our research – the most comprehensive analysis on the effect of garlic on cholesterol to date – found that a two-month course of garlic supplements can reduce cholesterol in people with elevated levels by 8%. This 8% reduction is significant as it is associated with a 38 per cent decrease in the risk of coronary events for those 50 years of age.
Cholesterol is one of many factors, including blood pressure, lifestyle and age, which contribute to cardiovascular disease, which is the number one cause of death in Australia.
Currently, 30% of Australians aged over 45 (or 2 million people) are on the cholesterol lowering Atorvastatin drugs (or statins).
These statins have potentially dangerous and debilitating side effects including muscular cramps and pain, sexual dysfunction, cognitive impairment, increased risk of diabetes and the onset of mood disorders.
Statins are also hugely expensive, with Grattan Institute research recently finding Australians are spending over $700 million on these drugs each year.
It is important to remember that our bodies need some cholesterol to function, for example for the production of steroid hormones, Vitamin D, Coenzym Q10, and cell membrane integrity.
Our research has shown that Aged Garlic Extract – which is available in pharmacies and health food stores around Australia – in particular could be the supplement of choice, as it is also beneficial for blood pressure. Two capsules a day can reduce high blood pressure similarly to standard medication.
Our latest study suggests garlic supplements may be considered as an alternative for those experiencing slightly elevated levels of cholesterol with a higher safety profile than frontline pharmaceutical medications.
Would you increase your intake of garlic based on this research?