(Sayer Ji) Given that cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death within industrialized societies, anything that can slow the underlying pathological process in its decades-long, mostly subclinical march towards heart attack, embolism or stroke, is worth considering as a prophylactic — especially if it is as safe, accessible and affordable drug alternative.
Indeed, a new study published in the International Journal Cardiology indicates that aged garlic extract, in combination with vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin B6 and arginine, is capable of favorably altering the ratio of brown to white adipose (fat) tissue surrounding the heart muscle, reducing homocysteine (a blood vessel damaging amino acid) and slowing the progression of coronary artery calcification in human subjects.[i]
The study involved sixty subjects, randomized to receive either a daily placebo capsule or a supplement containing 250 mg of aged garlic-extract, 100 μg vitamin-B12, 300μg folic-acid, 12.5mg vitamin-B6 and 100 mg of l-arginine. From baseline to 12 months, the researchers found a strong correlation between the increase in the white fat tissue surrounding the heart muscle, also known as white epicardial adipose tissue (wEAT), and the level of coronary artery calcification. They found that at 1 year, the risks of coronary artery calcium progression and increased wEAT and homocysteine were significantly lower in the supplement group when compared to the placebo group. Researchers also found an increase in brown epicardial adipose tissue (wEAT) and improved vascular reactivity (an indication of lessened vascular dysfunction) in subjects who received the supplement.
There are two types of fat found in mammals, brown and white. Brown fat’s primary role is to generate heat in animals, which is why it is abundant in newborns and hibernating animals. White fat, on the other hand, is primarily a way of accumulating energy for storage, and does not have the high density of iron-containing mitochondria which enables it to generate heat and which makes it brown. The study found a higher ratio of brown to white fat around the heart muscle “[C]orrelated strongly with increases in vascular function measured by temperature-rebound and predicted a lack of CAC [coronary artery calcification] progression and plaque stabilization in response to AGE-S [supplement].”
Garlic is actually already well-established to have therapeutic properties in calcification disorders of the cardiovascular system.
Here is a review on the literature on this topic
- Decalcifiation of hydroxylapatite calcium crystals: A 2003 study found that it was possible to dissolve the type of calcium hydroxypatite crystals found in cardiovascular pathologies with organic solutions of hawthorn, onion and garlic.[ii]
- Inhibits nanoplaque formation: A 2004 study found that garlic was able to inhibit lipoprotein associated arteriosclerotic nanoplaque formation.[iii]
- Retards progression of subclinical atherosclerosis: A 2004 study found found that aged garlic (in combination with B vitamins and arginine) inhibited the progression of subclinical plaque in human subjects.[iv]
- Inhibits coronary artery calcification in patients on statin therapy: A 2004 study found a 3-fold reduced progression in coronary calcification in those taking an aged garlic supplement versus a placebo.[v]
Other heart-friendly features of garlic include
- Anti-platelet (blood thinning) properties.[vi] [vii]
- Improving endothelial function.[ix]
- [i] Naser Ahmadi, Vahid Nabavi, Fereshteh Hajsadeghi, Irfan Zeb, Ferdinand Flores, Ramin Ebrahimi, Matthew Budoff. 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. PMID: 23453866
- [ii] Patrycja Lipnicka, Maciej Pawlikowski, Roman Pfttzner. [The role of synthetic hydroxyapatite solution in the destructive process of arteriosclerosis]. Folia Med Cracov. 2003;44(1-2):187-99. PMID: 15232901
- [iii] Günter Siegel, Frank Michel, Michael Ploch, Miguel Rodríguez, Martin Malmsten. [Inhibition of arteriosclerotic plaque development by garlic]. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2004 Nov;154(21-22):515-22. PMID: 15638070
- [iv] Matthew J Budoff, Naser Ahmadi, Khawar M Gul, Sandy T Liu, Ferdinand R Flores, Jima Tiano, Junichiro Takasu, Elizabeth Miller, Sotirios Tsimikas. 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. PMID: 19573556
- [v] Matthew J Budoff, Junichiro Takasu, Ferdinand R Flores, Yutaka Niihara, Bin Lu, Benjamin H Lau, Robert T Rosen, Harunobu Amagase. 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. PMID: 15475033
- [vi] H Kiesewetter, F Jung, G Pindur, E M Jung, C Mrowietz, E Wenzel. Effect of garlic on thrombocyte aggregation, microcirculation, and other risk factors. Inflammopharmacology. 2008 Apr;16(2):87-95. PMID: 2071264
- [vii] K C Srivastava. Aqueous extracts of onion, garlic and ginger inhibit platelet aggregation and alter arachidonic acid metabolism. Biomed Biochim Acta. 1984;43(8-9):S335-46. PMID: 6440548
- [viii] Marcela Alejandra Vazquez-Prieto, Cecilia Rodriguez Lanzi, Carina Lembo, Claudio Rómulo Galmarini, Roberto Miguel Miatello. Garlic and onion attenuates vascular inflammation and oxidative stress in fructose-fed rats. J Nutr Metab. 2011 ;2011:475216. Epub 2011 Aug 25. PMID: 21876795
- [ix] M Zahid Ashraf, M E Hussain, M Fahim. Antiatherosclerotic effects of dietary supplementations of garlic and turmeric: Restoration of endothelial function in rats. Life Sci. 2005 Jul 8;77(8):837-57. Epub 2005 Apr 14. PMID: 15964306