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BBC News - Why garlic is good for the heart

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Researchers have cracked the mystery of why eating garlic can help keep the heart healthy. The key is allicin, which is broken down into the foul-smelling sulphur compounds which taint breath. These compounds react with red blood cells and produce hydrogen sulphide which relaxes the blood vessels, and keeps blood flowing easily.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham research appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. At low concentrations it plays a vital role in helping cells to communicate with each other. And within the blood vessels it stimulates the cells that form the lining to relax, causing the vessels to dilate. This, in turn, reduces blood pressure, allowing the blood to carry more oxygen to essential organs, and reducing pressure on the heart.

The researchers also found that red blood cells exposed to minute amounts of juice extracted from supermarket garlic immediately began emitting hydrogen sulphide. Lead researcher Dr David Kraus said: "Our results suggest garlic in the diet is a very good thing. "Certainly in areas where garlic consumption is high, such as the Mediterranean and the Far East, there is a low incidence of cardiovascular disease."

Judy O'Sullivan, a cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "This interesting study suggests that garlic may provide some heart health benefits.


garlic

A daily dose of garlic can save your life by cutting blood pressure, say researchers

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Garlic may lower blood pressure just as effectively as drugs, according to researchers. Scientists looked at 11 international studies in which patients were given a daily garlic supplement in powdered form for between three and five months.

They found significant blood pressure falls among participants - with the greatest drops among those who had higher blood pressure readings to begin with. In some cases, the effects were similar to those achieved with common anti-blood pressure drugs, such as beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, said Dr Karin Ried, of Adelaide University in South Australia.

More than 16million Britons have high blood pressure and many more are thought to suffer from it without knowing. If the condition is not treated, it can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Doctors recommend that sufferers lower their blood pressure by cutting their intake of salt, losing weight and getting fit.

Now the Australian research suggests that extra help is at hand in readily available over the counter garlic supplements. Dr Ried and her team, writing for the scientific journal BMC Cardiovascular Disorders, said the 600mg to 900mg dosage used in the studies was equivalent to 3.6mg to 5.4mg of garlic's active ingredient, allicin.

A fresh clove of garlic contains 5mg to 9mg of allicin.

*Saving based on per tablet cost correct online at Holland and Barrett when checked on 28/06/2011.

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