Among the famed heart-friendly benefits of garlic consumption is its ability to help prevent atherosclerosis. Here are five ways that this superfood has displayed its might against clogged arteries*
*WARNING: Those on conventional medications like blood-thinners should consult a medical herbalist or their health practitioner when using both natural and pharmaceutical medicines for artherosclerosis or any other diagnosed condition. Nothing here is intended to be used as medical advice.
Garlic is one of the most powerful foods around, and for good reason. Apart from its known antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, garlic has been documented in studies to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes, to name a few.[i] It is also famed for helping to unclog arteries.
Atherosclerosis is a complex disease where plaque, which is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances, builds up inside the arteries.[ii] In the long run, plaque hardens and narrows the arteries, limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the organs and the rest of the body.
The condition can lead to serious conditions such as heart attack and stroke. Here are five ways that garlic assists in treating or preventing clogged arteries.
Five Benefits of Garlic for Clogged Arteries
1. Inhibits Vascular Calcification
Aged garlic extract has been shown to reduce multiple cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure. A 2004 study evaluated its ability to inhibit vascular calcification, which serves as a marker of plaque formation in coronary arteries.[iii]
In the double-blind, small pilot study conducted for a year, aged garlic extract demonstrated the ability to inhibit the rate of coronary calcification in patients on statin therapy compared to placebo.
Finding a three-fold reduced progression in coronary calcification in those taking an aged garlic supplement versus a placebo, researchers wrote that should their findings be confirmed in larger studies, garlic may prove beneficial for patients who are high-risk for future cardiovascular events.
2. Increases Vascular Elasticity and Endothelial Function
A stressful lifestyle is a known risk factor for the presence and worsening of atherosclerosis. A study probed the effect of aged garlic extract in tandem with coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) on vascular elasticity in a group of firefighters.[iv]
The combination was linked to significant benefits to vascular elasticity as well as endothelial function among the firefighters, who experience high stress at work. The combination emerged as a potential way to prevent atherosclerosis in such individuals.
Separate research evaluated the effects of garlic and CoQ10 on coronary atherosclerosis and inflammatory biomarkers, concluding that participants taking the combination had significant improvements in their coronary artery calcium as well as C-reactive protein levels.[v] The results suggested improved heart health.
3. Inhibits Nanoplaque Formation
In a 2004 study, garlic successfully inhibited lipoprotein associated arteriosclerotic nanoplaque formation.[vi] The experiments showed that garlic extract strongly inhibited calcium ions binding to proteoheparan sulfate, resulting in the blunting of the formation of what is responsible for "nanoplaque" composition and ultimately for the arteriosclerotic plaque generation.
4. Protects Against Aortic Stiffness
A cross-sectional observational study evaluated healthy adults taking standardized garlic powder for at least two years and a control group, then measured the elastic properties of their aorta.[vii]
Blood pressure levels, heart rate and plasma lipid levels were similar in the groups. However, chronic garlic powder consumption slowed age-related increases in aortic stiffness, supporting the protective effects of garlic intake.
5. Reduces Atherosclerotic Progression
Aged garlic extract was combined with supplements to check the effects on inflammatory and oxidation biomarkers, vascular function and the progression of atherosclerosis.[viii]
In the trial, 65 subjects with intermediate risk for the disease were treated with either a placebo or a capsule containing aged garlic extract plus vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin B6 and l-arginine, given daily for a year. The garlic and supplement mix were associated with improved oxidative biomarkers, vascular health and a reduced progression of atherosclerosis.
A related study found aged garlic extract therapy plus supplementation with vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin B6 and L-arginine were associated with a lack of progression in coronary artery calcium, along with increased ratio of brown adipose to white adipose tissue.[ix]
These are only some ways that garlic displays therapeutic properties against calcification problems of the cardiovascular system. Find nearly 800 abstracts with clogged arteries research on the GreenMedInfo.com database.
[i] Banerjee S et al "Effect of garlic on cardiovascular disorders: a review" Nutr J. 2002; 1: 4. Published online 2002 Nov 19.
[ii] NIH, Atherosclerosis https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/atherosclerosis
[iii] Budoff M et al "Inhibiting progression of coronary calcification using Aged Garlic Extract in patients receiving statin therapy: a preliminary study" Prev Med. 2004 Nov;39(5):985-91.
[iv] Larijani V et al "Beneficial effects of aged garlic extract and coenzyme Q10 on vascular elasticity and endothelial function: The FAITH randomized clinical trial" Nutrition. 2012 Aug 1. Epub 2012 Aug 1.
[v] Zeb I et al "Aged garlic extract and coenzyme Q10 have favorable effect on inflammatory markers and coronary atherosclerosis progression: A randomized clinical trial" J Cardiovasc Dis Res. 2012 Jul-Sep; 3(3): 185-190.
[vi] Siegel G et al "Inhibition of arteriosclerotic plaque development by garlic" Wien Med Wochenschr. 2004 Nov;154(21-22):515-22.
[vii] Breithaupt-Grögler K et al "Protective effect of chronic garlic intake on elastic properties of aorta in the elderly" Circulation. 1997 Oct 21;96(8):2649-55.
[viii] Budoff M et al. "Aged garlic extract supplemented with B vitamins, folic acid and L-arginine retards the progression of subclinical atherosclerosis: a randomized clinical trial" Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2004 Feb;83(3):221-31.
[ix] Ahmadi N et al. "Aged garlic extract with supplement is associated with increase in brown adipose, decrease in white adipose tissue and predict lack of progression in coronary atherosclerosis" Int J Cardiol. 2013 Mar 1. Epub 2013 Mar 1.