Earlier this summer, I wrote about garlic’s immune-boosting and brain-enhancing benefits. And today, I ordered some aged garlic extract powder to use in product development!
(If you’ve never heard of aged garlic and you’re asking yourself, does that smell worse? Nope! Aged garlic doesn’t come with the same odor. )
But before doing that, I took another look at garlic’s health benefits to answer the question, “Does garlic lower cholesterol?” I began with an excellent overview of garlic research from Italy’s Marche Polytechnic University.
A team headed by Ph.D. research scholar Johura Ansary analyzed 83 human studies on the health benefits of garlic and summarized them in four tables.
- Anti-inflammatory Properties, Antioxidant Activities, and Lipid-Lowering Effects
- Cardiovascular Diseases, Cancer, Metabolic Syndrome, and Blood Pressure
- Diabetes, Skin, and Bone Diseases
- Other Conditions and Diseases
What struck me as I glanced over the various study was that garlic certainly deserved its distinction as one of the Middle Ages’ most versatile medicinal ingredients.
Back in the 1500s, herbal and plant-based remedies were the go-to prescription for fighting all manner of sickness and diseases. Substantial research suggests that they were onto something.
But, in my book, garlic’s medicinal allure remains just as strong in 2021! However, has it specifically asked…
Does Garlic Lower Cholesterol?
We know it’s good for vampires, we know it’s not so good for first dates, but I’m not living in Transylvania, and I’m not dating. I’m worried about cholesterol.
The Italian researchers’ overview presents convincing evidence: Garlic is beneficial enough to merit a place in a balanced, plant-based diet. But what about its effects on cholesterol?
Cholesterol was one thing 16th-century medicinal practitioners didn’t understand. So they might have found an article published in the March 2007 Lipids in Health and Diseases journal enthralling!
Shiraz University of Medical Science researchers wanted to answer the question “Does garlic lower cholesterol?” for themselves. So they did it by gathering a group of 150 hyperlipidemia patients (people with high blood-fat levels – I was wondering what that means too).
Led by Professor of Cardiology Javad Kojuri, the researchers separated their enrollees into three groups of 50.
Twice daily for six weeks, the groups took a 400 mg garlic tablet, a 650 mg Anethum (dill) tablet, or a placebo. They also followed a National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) based diet – they ate the same food.
How did the garlic group fare? Their average:
- total cholesterol decreased by 26.82 mg/dl, a 12.1-percent reduction.
- LDL “bad” cholesterol decreased by 22.18 mg/dl, a 17.3 -percent reduction.
- HDL “good” cholesterol increased by 10.02 mg/dl, a 15.7-percent increase.
- triglycerides dropped by 13.72 mg/dl, a 6.3 percent reduction.
However, the researchers labeled the triglyceride drop as “not statistically significant.” Neither of the other groups experienced a significant difference in any of their lipid levels.
The Shiraz researchers concluded, “Our study suggests that garlic reduces total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol.” They also observed that their findings supported those of previous studies:
A 1997 University of Guelph study linked garlic consumption with
- 11.5 percent lower total cholesterol
- 14.2-percent lower LDL cholesterol
- 9.0%-percent reduction in total cholesterol
- 15.0-percent reduction in LDL-cholesterol
Dr. Manfred Steiner of the Brown University-Rhode Island Memorial Hospital conducted a 1995 study of aged garlic extract. Four or six months of daily consumption led to a:
- 6.1-percent decrease in total cholesterol
- 4.0-percent decrease in LDL-cholesterol
By How Much Does Garlic Lower Cholesterol?
In 2013, University of Adelaide Research Fellow Karin Reid oversaw analysis of 39 trials reviewing the question “Does garlic lower cholesterol?” It was the most comprehensive effort to date.
The research concluded: People with a total cholesterol higher than 200 mg/dL who took garlic for more than two months achieved (on average):
- A 17mg/dL drop in total serum cholesterol
- A 9mg/dL drop in LDL cholesterol
The Australian researchers noted:
“An 8-percent reduction in total serum cholesterol is of clinical relevance and is associated with a 38-percent reduction of coronary events at 50 years of age.”
Finally, I found this 2016 study which summed up multiple garlic research findings by saying, “an intake of ½ to 1 clove of garlic per day lowers cholesterol levels approximately 10 percent.”
So, am I satisfied that I’ve answered my question, “Does garlic lower cholesterol?”
Let’s say I’m confident that the overall research seems to indicate taking a dose of garlic daily for at least two months could lower both total and LDL cholesterol!
Remember, aged garlic doesn’t make us smell so bad. All garlic may help you to live longer but fresh garlic may mean living longer, alone.