Garlic has long been touted as a potential solution for high blood pressure. But how is garlic good for high blood pressure?
High blood pressure is a health concern that affects millions of people worldwide. It increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other serious health problems.
While medication can help lower blood pressure, many individuals are looking for natural remedies to complement their treatment plans.
In this article, we will explore the evidence behind garlic’s effectiveness in managing hypertension, plus other additional benefits of including it n your diet.
What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is when the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries is consistently too high.
This can cause damage to your arteries and lead to serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.
So, why does this happen? There are a number of factors that can contribute to high blood pressure, including genetics, lifestyle choices (like smoking and a poor diet), age, and stress levels.
The thing about high blood pressure is that it often doesn’t have any symptoms in its early stages. That’s why it’s so important to get regular check-ups with your doctor and monitor your blood pressure readings at home if recommended.
If you do have high blood pressure, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to manage it. Your doctor may recommend medication or lifestyle changes like exercise and eating a healthier diet.
Garlic Nutrition Facts:
In 100 grams of raw garlic you may find:
- Allicin: This is one of the primary compounds found in garlic and is responsible for most of its health benefits. Allicin has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties that can help boost the immune system.
- Vitamin C- 52%: vitamin C acts as an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C also supports collagen production, which keeps skin looking young and healthy.
- Selenium 20%: selenium is a mineral that plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy immune system and thyroid function.
- Manganese 84%: another mineral present in garlic, manganese, helps support bone development and wound healing.
- Fiber 8%: fiber that helps regulate digestion and promotes bowel regularity.
- B vitamins: Garlic contains various B vitamins, such as thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and pantothenic acid (B5), which play significant roles in energy metabolism, brain function, and red blood cell formation.
- Iron 9%: Garlic has iron which is essential for transporting oxygen throughout the body to maintain energy levels.
- Calcium 18%: calcium can contribute to overall bone health among other benefits
- Potassium11%: Potassium is a vital mineral that plays a crucial role in regulating blood pressure, maintaining heart health, and supporting nerve and muscle function. It also helps balance fluids in the body and aids in digestion.
- Phosphorus 15%: Phosphorus is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions such as energy production, bone health, and cell growth and repair. It also helps in maintaining pH balance in the body and filtering waste from the kidneys.
- Copper 15%: copper helps in the production of red blood cells and collagen, which are important for maintaining healthy skin and hair. It also aids in the absorption of iron, another crucial mineral required for healthy blood circulation.
How Is Garlic Good for High Blood Pressure?
Studies have shown that regular consumption of garlic can lead to significant reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements.
In one study, participants who consumed raw garlic daily for 12 weeks saw their systolic blood pressure drop by an average of 10 points and their diastolic pressure drop by an average of 8 points compared with those who took a placebo.
Another study showed that aged garlic extract reduced systolic blood pressure by an average of 11.5 mmHg over six months among participants with uncontrolled hypertension.
The garlic benefits for high blood pressure are mainly attributed to its active compound, allicin. Allicin has been shown to lower high blood pressure in various ways, including:
1. Promoting blood vessel relaxation
In high blood pressure, the blood vessels are often stiff and difficult to relax; however, if you take allicin-containing foods like garlic, the blood vessels can relax and allow blood to flow freely.
When consumed, allicin converts into a molecule called hydrogen sulfide (H2S), which acts as a vasodilator. This means that H2S helps to relax the muscles in the walls of blood vessels, allowing them to widen and increase blood flow while reducing resistance against the flow of blood.
2. Fighting inflammation
Inflammation is a natural response of the body’s immune system to injury or infection. However, chronic inflammation can lead to a number of health problems, including high blood pressure.
This is because inflammation causes damage to the walls of your blood vessels, making them less flexible and more prone to narrowing. This, in turn, increases your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Fortunately, allicin in garlic is an effective anti-inflammatory agent. It works by blocking the production of enzymes responsible for triggering inflammation in the body. By reducing inflammation levels, allicin helps improve blood flow and lowers blood pressure.
3. Stimulates the production of nitric oxide
Nitric oxide is a molecule produced by various cells in the body, including endothelial cells, which line the inside of blood vessels.
It plays an essential role in regulating blood flow, reducing inflammation, and improving cardiovascular health.
Research has shown that allicin can increase the production of nitric oxide by activating certain enzymes involved in its synthesis. This increase in nitric oxide helps improve circulation and reduce blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels.
In addition to its cardiovascular benefits, allicin’s ability to stimulate nitric oxide production also makes it beneficial for athletes and anyone looking to improve their physical performance. Nitric oxide helps increase oxygen delivery to muscles and reduce fatigue during exercise.
4. Inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) plays an important role in regulating blood pressure by converting angiotensin I into angiotensin II, which causes vasoconstriction and increases blood pressure.
By inhibiting ACE, allicin can reduce the production of angiotensin II and promote vasodilation, resulting in lower blood pressure.
5. Garlic is high in antioxidant compounds
Antioxidants are molecules that protect cells from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. These free radicals can cause oxidative stress, which can lead to chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
The allicin in garlic has been shown to increase antioxidant levels in the body.
6. Reduces platelet aggregation
Platelets are small cells in our blood that help stop bleeding by clumping together and forming a clot. However, when too many platelets clump together, they can form a blockage in the blood vessels and lead to heart attacks or stroke.
Garlic contains compounds called sulfides that have been shown to inhibit platelet aggregation and prevent these blockages from occurring.
By reducing platelet aggregation, garlic helps improve blood flow and lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
7. Regulates cholesterol levels
Cholesterol is a type of fat found in the blood. There are two types of cholesterol: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein).
LDL is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol because it can build up on the walls of arteries, leading to blockages. HDL is known as “good” cholesterol because it helps remove excess cholesterol from the bloodstream.
Studies have shown that garlic can help lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels while increasing HDL or “good” cholesterol levels. The active compounds in garlic, such as allicin, are believed to be responsible for these effects.
How to Use Garlic in Your Diet?
Outside of using garlic in small amounts as flavoring for your food, you may be wondering how to add garlic to your diet for health benefits. Here are a few options:
1. Raw or Cooked Garlic
- Add raw garlic to your salads
You can add chopped or minced raw garlic to your salad dressing for an extra kick of flavor and nutrition.
Mix fresh lemon juice with olive oil, salt, pepper, and finely chopped raw garlic to make a simple vinaigrette that will add tanginess to your greens.
- Use raw garlic as a spread on toast
Spread some mashed avocado on whole-grain bread, then top with thinly sliced raw garlic for breakfast or lunch.
- Make Garlic Tea
Peel 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic, then crush them lightly with the side of a knife blade or mortar pestle before adding to boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Strain out the pieces before drinking.
- Blend it into Smoothies
Add half a clove of peeled fresh garlic per serving when blending smoothies made from fruits like bananas, apples, berries, or spinach leaves.
- Roast Garlic Cloves in Oven
Cut off the top part of multiple heads (not just individual cloves) before drizzling some olive oil over each head so they are coated evenly all around their surface area but not saturated with oil.
Wrap each head up tightly inside tinfoil so everything stays contained while baking at 400F degrees until tender (about 45 minutes).
Once roasted, take out all wrapped-up heads from the oven, unwrap & separate cloves from the skin, squeezing out soft pulp. Then use this sweet-tasting garlic in recipes or eat it straight up!
- Make Garlic Butter
Melt unsalted butter in a saucepan, then add finely chopped fresh garlic and cook on low heat for 5-7 minutes until fragrant but not browned. Use this garlic butter as a spread for toast, bagels, or to sauté vegetables.
2. Garlic supplements
Garlic supplements are pills or capsules that contain concentrated amounts of garlic extract. They come in various forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, oils, and extracts.
The recommended dosage varies depending on the form of supplement you choose to take; however, typically, 600-1200mg per day is considered a safe dose range for most people.
Possible Side Effects of Garlic:
While generally safe when consumed in moderation through food or via supplementation at appropriate dosages – overconsumption of raw garlic (or concentrated forms) may cause digestive upset such as bloating or nausea if taken on an empty stomach.
- Bad breath: Garlic contains a compound called allicin that causes bad breath when consumed in large amounts.
- Upset stomach: Some people may experience upset stomach, bloating, or gas after consuming garlic. This, however, often occurs with excessive consumption.
- Skin irritation: Applying raw garlic directly on the skin can cause irritation in some individuals.
- Bleeding disorders: Garlic can increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders or those taking blood-thinning medications.
Interactions with certain medications:
Always consult your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you’re taking medication(s) or have pre-existing medical conditions that could interact negatively with it.
Take particular care to check with your doctor if you are on the following types of medications:
1. Blood-thinning medications
Garlic contains compounds that can thin the blood and increase the risk of bleeding. If you are taking blood-thinning medications such as warfarin or aspirin, consuming large amounts of garlic supplements or raw garlic may increase your risk of bleeding.
2. Antidiabetic medications
Garlic may lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Therefore, if you are taking antidiabetic medication such as metformin or insulin, consuming high amounts of garlic may cause your blood sugar levels to drop too low.
3. Immunosuppressant medications
Garlic has immune-boosting properties that can interfere with immunosuppressant drugs such as cyclosporine and tacrolimus prescribed to prevent organ transplant rejection.
4. Contraceptive pills
Some studies have suggested that consuming high doses of garlic supplements can reduce the effectiveness of contraceptive pills by affecting their metabolism and clearance from the body.
5. Antihypertensive medication
Garlic supplements can lower blood pressure in people with hypertension and interact with other antihypertensive drugs like nifedipine and hydrochlorothiazide to excessively lower blood pressure levels leading to negative health consequences.
It’s essential to inform your healthcare professional about all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, and dietary supplements, including herbs like garlic, before starting any new treatment plan.
They will provide expert advice regarding dosage adjustments or possible alternatives to avoid interactions between these substances which could lead to detrimental effects on one’s health status when combined unsafely.
Garlic isn’t just a flavorful addition to your favorite dishes; it could also be the key to managing high blood pressure. Its active ingredient, allicin, has been proven to improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure levels.
Whether you choose to add more garlic to your diet or take advantage of its supplements, incorporating this herb into your lifestyle could lead to significant health benefits.
So, go ahead and spice up your meals with this pungent bulb – your taste buds will thank you, and so will your heart!
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