How Does Garlic Lower Cholesterol?

The CDC reports that around 38% of U.S. adults have high cholesterol levels. 

High cholesterol puts your health at risk, but it’s a manageable problem. 

There is a lot that people can do to put their cholesterol under control. 

Various natural strategies such as eating certain foods are also useful. 

Some foods are well-known for their potential to manage cholesterol, while others are not as much. 

Where does garlic stand? Does garlic lower cholesterol? Read on to find out.

Normal cholesterol levels for men and women

Cholesterol levels are expressed in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). Normal cholesterol levels are up to 200 mg/dl, but the lower, the better. 

Ideal HDL levels or good cholesterol is 60 mg/dl or higher, but 50 or higher for women and 40 or higher for men is also acceptable. 

Additionally, healthy LDL or bad cholesterol levels are less than 100 mg/dl or below 70 if you have coronary artery disease

Normal levels of triglycerides are less than 149 mg/dl, but <100 is ideal, according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The American Heart Association recommends that adults age 20 or older check their cholesterol levels every four to six years. People with certain risk factors for high cholesterol or heart disease should check their cholesterol levels more often.

Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is important. High cholesterol is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and events such as heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and coronary heart disease. It’s also linked to high blood pressure and diabetes

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What is garlic?

Garlic, or Allium sativum, is a vegetable that belongs to the same family as onion, chive, scallion, shallot, and leek. Native to Central Asia and northeastern Iran, garlic has been used as a seasoning and for medicinal purposes for centuries. 

Garlic was used for medicinal purposes in Ancient Greece as well. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed garlic for various illnesses and conditions such as respiratory problems, fatigue, parasites, and poor digestion.

The use of garlic spread to China and other parts of the world. Today, most people can’t imagine cooking a meal without adding garlic in some form. The medicinal use of garlic is also widely present. 

Does garlic lower cholesterol?

Yes, garlic can lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels, and this effect is scientifically proven. 

One study revealed that garlic supplementation resulted in a 12% reduction in cholesterol compared to placebo. The reduction was present one month after the therapy with garlic and also six months later. Dried garlic powder supplementation also decreased triglyceride levels.

Moreover, a review from the Annals of Internal Medicine also confirmed that garlic is superior to placebo in decreasing total cholesterol levels. 

Additionally, a paper from the Nutrition Reviews revealed garlic preparations could reduce total serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, but it also slightly improves HDL cholesterol levels. 

Garlic can reduce total cholesterol by at least 8%, which is associated with a 38% lower risk of coronary events. The use of garlic was well-tolerable, without side effects.

To sum up, the consumption of garlic through diet or supplementation with aged garlic extract can exhibit a favorable impact on your cholesterol levels and thereby improve cardiovascular health. Eating garlic and drinking lemon juice every day can help you lower cholesterol levels naturally.

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How garlic lowers cholesterol

While many studies have confirmed that garlic can lower cholesterol, they don’t focus on the mechanisms of action. The benefits of garlic for persons with hypercholesterolemia could be due to allicin, an active compound in garlic. Allicin is responsible for many health benefits of garlic, actually. 

This active compound is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Antioxidants are necessary for neutralizing free radicals and the oxidative stress they cause. Oxidative stress harms a person’s health in many ways, and it also contributes to high cholesterol. 

Like oxidative stress, inflammation contributes to high cholesterol. Inflammation is the immune system’s natural response to disease or injury, and it helps the body heal. However, long-term inflammation can reduce HDL cholesterol and increase LDL cholesterol levels. 

For that reason, garlic could lower cholesterol through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. 

It’s also important to mention garlic acts as a natural blood thinner due to its antiplatelet properties. That’s precisely how some cholesterol-lowering medications work; they function as blood thinners. They prevent the formation and growth of blood clots (clumps of blood).

A lot more research is necessary to elucidate all the mechanisms of action through which garlic can reduce cholesterol levels. 

How much garlic should you take to lower cholesterol?

There is no “one size fits all” rule here because everyone is different. Many factors play a role in heart health and cholesterol levels, including the typical diet you eat, lifestyle, health status, and others. 

Studies show that consumption of about half to one clove of garlic a day can reduce cholesterol levels. Make sure not to eat too much garlic. Moderate use is completely fine. Excessive intake of garlic could significantly lower your blood pressure. 

When it comes to garlic supplements, you need to adhere to the dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer. In some cases, 400mg of garlic a day could be effective for lowering cholesterol levels. Avoid increasing or decreasing the dosage on your own. Also, before you start using supplements, you may want to consult your healthcare provider.

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How long does it take for garlic to lower cholesterol?

Taking garlic for six weeks can lead to a subtle improvement in cholesterol levels. Significant improvements require longer intake. Ideally, you should take garlic for four months to obtain much-needed benefits. 

Of course, your diet and other factors also play a role in this aspect. If you’re not sure how long to take garlic to lower cholesterol, you may want to consult your doctor or a dietitian or nutritionist. 

How to get garlic in your diet

One of the best things about garlic is that it’s super easy to include in your diet. You can add it to savory dishes, especially sauces and soups. Garlic can complete other dishes and add more taste and aroma to otherwise bland recipes.

A common way to use garlic is to press a few cloves with a garlic press. Then, you can mix it with a little bit of salt and virgin olive oil to make a healthy and delicious dressing.

Generally speaking, you get the most benefits from raw garlic. But, if you choose to add fresh garlic to your meals, make sure not to heat it above 140°F (60°C). High temperatures aren’t recommended because they can kill allicin.

Garlic also happens to be versatile as it comes in several forms, such as whole cloves, powder, and smooth taste. Also, there are supplements such as garlic oil and garlic extract. 

5 other natural ways to lower cholesterol

When left unmanaged, high cholesterol levels can put your health at risk. For that reason, it’s vital to be proactive. As mentioned above, high cholesterol is manageable. 

Below, you can see the top five natural strategies to bring your cholesterol down.

1. Maintain a healthy weight

The prevalence of obesity keeps increasing. Excess weight can harm your health in many ways. 

For example, it increases the risk of diabetes, arthritis, and other health problems. Being overweight or obese is also associated with high cholesterol. 

One study found that participants who lost 5 to 10% of their weight significantly decreased total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides. Losing weight helps reduce the production of new cholesterol in the liver.

A well-balanced diet is crucial for successful weight loss and cholesterol management. Make sure to reduce the consumption of carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. Limit intake of saturated fat, as well. Focus on healthy fats such as olive oil.

2. Exercise

Regular exercise can increase HDL and reduce LDL cholesterol levels. It is recommended to get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week. 

Generally speaking, any type of exercise is good for your cholesterol levels. Besides aerobic, resistance training is also practical. Choose the activity you like the most to keep doing it regularly.

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3. Eat more soluble fiber

Soluble fiber is necessary for digestive health and functional gut microbiota. Probiotics, or good bacteria, need soluble fiber for their nutrition. At the same time, probiotics can reduce LDL cholesterol. 

Some of the most useful soluble fiber sources include flaxseeds, peas, fruits, Brussels sprouts, lentils and beans, and oat cereals. For people who don’t get enough soluble fiber in their diet, supplementation could be useful.

4. Get more Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for a healthy brain, heart, and body in general. As a form of polyunsaturated fats, Omega-3s can decrease LDL levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. 

Good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, besides supplements, include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, shellfish, and deep-sea tuna. 

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5. Try supplements

Some dietary supplements can naturally help lower cholesterol. These include fish or krill oil, which supplies the body with Omega-3s. 

Other supplements you can try include psyllium and coenzyme Q10. Psyllium is the soluble fiber, whereas coenzyme Q10 is a food chemical that helps cells produce energy.

5 other health benefits of garlic

Garlic is incredibly beneficial for our health. Its benefits go beyond cholesterol-lowering effects. 

Below, you can see the top five health benefits of garlic.

1. Stronger immune system

Garlic is known for its potential to boost the immune system. One study found daily supplementation with garlic reduced the number of common colds compared to placebo. Many people increase the intake of garlic during winter in order to avoid cold and flu.

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2. Improved athletic performance

People in ancient cultures used garlic to decrease fatigue as well as to increase the work capacity of laborers. 

Garlic releases nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow. So, if you’re looking for a natural way to take your workouts to a new level, you may want to eat more garlic.

3. Antibiotic effects

Garlic contains a compound called diallyl sulfide, which is a powerful antibiotic. This particular compound can help fight Campylobacter bacterium, which is responsible for many intestinal infections. 

4. Improved bone health

Garlic has the potential to minimize bone loss by elevating estrogen in females. That’s why garlic intake or supplementation could be beneficial for menopausal and postmenopausal women. Garlic could help protect against osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

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5. Cancer prevention

Supplementation with garlic has the potential to reduce the risk of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer. While more research is necessary, garlic could work through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. 

Ben’s Organic Garlic Tincture

Our Organic Garlic Tincture supplement is clinically formulated to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, improve blood flow, boost heart health, and reverse erectile dysfunction (ED).

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Clinical studies have concluded that garlic can be used as an affordable, natural, and side-effect-free substitute for synthetic erectile dysfunction drugs. Additionally, over a dozen studies from the 1980s onwards have advocated supplementing garlic for its potent antibacterial and antiviral effect. 

Conclusion

Garlic can add more flavor to any meal, but its benefits go beyond culinary uses. For many centuries garlic has been used for medicinal purposes. 

Eating garlic can lower cholesterol, but more research is necessary to learn about all the mechanisms of action. Besides whole garlic cloves, pastes and powder can also do the trick.

Explore More

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Our Garlic Supplement: Ben’s Organic Garlic Extract Tincture.

Sources

  1. Silagy C, Neil A. Garlic as a lipid lowering agent–a meta-analysis. J R Coll Physicians Lond. 1994. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8169881/
  2. Stevinson C, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Garlic for treating hypercholesterolemia. A meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Ann Intern Med. 2000. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10975959/
  3. Ried K, Toben C, Fakler P. Effect of garlic on serum lipids: an updated meta-analysis. Nutr Rev. 2013. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23590705/
  4. Lawn A, Sains P. Comment on: Not just a vampire repellent: the adverse effects of garlic supplements in surgery. Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3954349/
  5. Aslani N, Entezari MH, Askari G, Maghsoudi Z, Maracy MR. Effect of Garlic and Lemon Juice Mixture on Lipid Profile and Some Cardiovascular Risk Factors in People 30-60 Years Old with Moderate Hyperlipidaemia: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Int J Prev Med. 2016;7:95. Published 2016 Jul 29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4977979/
  6. Brown JD, Buscemi J, Milsom V, Malcolm R, O’Neil PM. Effects on cardiovascular risk factors of weight losses limited to 5-10. Transl Behav Med. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4987606/
  7. Josling P. Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double-blind, placebo-controlled survey. Adv Ther. 2001. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11697022/

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