Healthy living

Fresh garlic better for your heart than dried

mmm fresh But perhaps not for your breath

Freshly crushed garlic is better for your heart than the dried variety, claim researchers. They also say that the health benefits of garlic are not due to the main antioxidants it contains, as previously thought. Rather it is the presence of a chemical called hydrogen sulphide that does all the hard work.

Hydrogen sulphide is released when garlic is freshly cut or crushed, which is the reason that fresh garlic is better than dried. It relaxes blood vessels when eaten, allowing more blood to pass - which helps the body recover from heart attacks for instance.

It is also a component of the smell of rotten eggs, and contributes to the pungent aroma of garlic and other odours.

The study also found that garlic could have a potential effect on obesity and diabetes, but more research is required before this can be said for certain.

About the study

The study will be published in the August edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and was carried out by scientists at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Rats were given both fresh and dried garlic, and their hearts were analysed after simulated heart attacks. Both versions of garlic provided a "significant" measure of protection to the heart, but the fresh garlic was found to have a greater beneficial effect.

More about garlic

The authors of the study helpfully provide some fascinating facts about the health benefits of garlic, such as:

  • Its health benefits have been known since at least 1500 B.C. when ancient Chinese and Indians used it as a blood-thinning agent
  • Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used garlic to treat cervical cancer
  • In China, garlic was shown to reduce the risk of oesophageal and stomach cancers by 70%
  • Garlic is also effective against breast and prostate cancers
  • Louis Pasteur first reported its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties
  • Albert Schweitzer used this concept and treated dysentery in Africa with garlic

This article was published on Thu 30 July 2009


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