As the number one killer of both men and women, the incidence of heart disease continues to rise. By 2030, heart disease is expected to take the lives of more than 23.6 million people worldwide. But a recent study on this deadly disease suggests new hope is on the horizon for slowing its progression, naturally.
As reported in the Journal of Nutrition, aged garlic extract shows significant promise in its ability to reverse deadly buildup of plaque in arteries. The study was found to both reduce the amount of accumulated “soft plaque” in the arteries as well as prevent new plaque from forming.
Reduction of plaque in arteries after a year of aged garlic extract
The study, conducted at the independent biomedical research facility LA BioMed, Torrance, Calif., showed that adding the supplement aged garlic extract resulted in a reduction in the amount of soft plaque, also known as low-attenuation plaque, that had built up in the arteries of patients. Participants in the study were already known to be suffering from metabolic syndrome, which carries with it a number of cardiac disease risk factors, including hypertension and obesity.
Fifty-five patients, aged 40 to 75 years old, were involved in the study. At the start of the trial, study subjects underwent screening using non-invasive Cardiac Computed Tomography technology to measure total coronary plaque volume already in existence. The screening also provided specific measurements of dense calcium, non-calcified plaque and low-attenuation plaque.
After screening and evaluation, study subjects were assigned to either a placebo or a dose of 2,400 mg of aged garlic taken daily. After one year, a follow-up screening was conducted. Results showed that those who had been taking aged garlic extract showed an 80 percent reduction in total plaque accumulation and reduced soft plaque. They also demonstrated less low-attenuation plaque.
CoQ10 and aged garlic extract effective against heart disease
This isn’t the first time aged garlic extract has been associated with a reduction in plaque build-up of coronary arteries or heart disease. A study published in the July 2012 issue of Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research found that average coronary artery calcium progression was significantly less one year after the start of the study among subjects receiving a combination of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and aged garlic extract.
The study involved 50 middle-aged firefighters, with an average age of 55 and considered to be of intermediate risk for a coronary event. Coronary artery calcium scanning was undertaken prior to the study to determine extent of plaque buildup. The study then limited the pool of participants to those with coronary artery calcium scores greater than 10, a score considered to indicate mild to moderate build-up of plaque. In addition, blood samples were drawn and analyzed for C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation.
Participants were then provided with either a daily placebo or a capsule containing 120 mg CoQ10 and 1200 mg aged garlic extract for a year. At the end of the year, coronary artery calcium progression was again measured and found to be significantly less among those who had received garlic and CoQ10 compared with those receiving placebos. The latter also showed an average increase of 0.91 mg/L for C-reactive protein levels compared to the group receiving CoQ10 and aged garlic, which showed a decrease in levels by 0.12 mg/L on average.
Aged garlic is also linked to cancer prevention and enhanced immune function
Aged garlic extract is made by extracting and aging organic fresh garlic for 20 months at room temperature. This aging and extraction process cause higher antioxidant levels compared with fresh garlic. In addition, the most unstable substances in garlic are converted to more bioavailable, stable substances. Garlic aged this way contains stable water-soluble sulfur substances, such as S-allyl mercaptocysteine (SAMC) and S-allyl cysteine (SAC). These are powerful antioxidants with high bioavailability at 98 percent absorption into the blood.
Aged garlic extract also contains oil-soluble sulfur compounds, flavonoids, a phenol allixin, and other nutrients, including selenium. But it is the water-soluble sulfur compounds that are credited most for the health benefits of AGE.
In addition to its heart-healthy attributes, aged garlic extract has been shown to give a boost to the body’s natural ability to make glutathione, which acts as a powerful antioxidant in protecting against free radicals. Aged garlic extract is also known to have greater immunity-boosting qualities than fresh garlic, increasing immune cell numbers and activity, enhancing the activity of natural killer cells, which destroy cancer cells and invading organisms.
For this reason, aged garlic extract has been linked to a lower risk of breast cancer, as well as cancers of the bladder, colon, stomach, lung, liver and esophagus. It acts by reducing free radicals, enhancing the destruction of carcinogens and preventing carcinogens from binding to DNA.