Tom was only ten years old, but he wore clothes worn by adults. Clothes for ten-year-olds were too small for him. His body mass index (BMI) was above 30. He was obese. In addition to this, his blood pressure was higher than 140/90 mmHg most of the time. He had high blood pressure.
One day, his uncle Samson visited from London. Samson was a qualified medical doctor. After seeing that Tom was obese and always had high blood pressure, he advised that besides getting involved in physical activities, Tom should have garlic in his food every mealtime.
Tom ate garlic every day during breakfast, lunch, and supper. After about two weeks, his blood pressure went down to between 90/60 mmHg to 120/80 mmHg. Furthermore, his serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) (or bad cholesterol) and total cholesterol levels decreased. However, his serum triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) (or good cholesterol) levels did not seem to be affected.
What lowered Tom’s blood pressure? Did garlic intake lower Tom’s blood pressure? Can garlic reduce your risk of heart diseases?
Blood pressure is the force that your heart uses to pump blood around your body. It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and is given as two figures, the systolic pressure, and the diastolic pressure.
The systolic pressure is the pressure when your heart pushes blood out of the heart. Diastolic pressure is the pressure when your heart rests between beats. Normal blood pressure is between 90/60 mmHg and 120/80 mmHg. High blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or higher. Low blood pressure is 90/60 mmHg or lower.
High blood pressure is caused by unhealthy lifestyle habits which include smoking, lack of exercise, drinking too much alcohol, and being overweight. High blood pressure increases your risk of developing kidney diseases and coronary heart disease.
Low blood pressure is less common than high blood pressure. It may be caused by some medications as a side effect. Low blood pressure can also be caused by some underlying medical conditions, for example, heart failure, and dehydration.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is a plant species in the onion genus, Allium. It is closely related to the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and Chinese onion. Garlic is native to Central Asia and north-eastern Iran. It has long been a common seasoning worldwide, with a history of several thousand years of human consumption and use.
Garlic has been reported to possess many biological properties including anticarcinogenic, antioxidant, antidiabetic, renoprotective, anti-atherosclerotic, antibacterial, antifungal, and antihypertensive activities in traditional medicines.
However, the question remains unanswered. Can garlic lower blood pressure? To answer this question, many published scientific studies were reviewed.
Veena Dhawan and Sanjay Jain, 2005, explored the antioxidant effect of garlic supplementation on oxidative stress-induced DNA damage, nitric oxide, and superoxide generation and on total antioxidant status in patients of essential hypertension.
In the group of subjects who were given garlic pearls, they observed a moderate decrease in blood pressure and a significant decline in 8-Hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine, nitric oxide levels, and lipid peroxidation. They concluded that their findings proved that garlic is beneficial in lowering blood pressure and counteracting oxidative stress. Thus, garlic gives cardioprotection in essential hypertensives.
Igor A Sobenin and colleagues, 2008, investigated the lipid-lowering effects of time-released garlic powder tablets in a double-blinded placebo-controlled randomised study.
They found out that garlic decreased total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (bad cholesterol) levels. It increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels. This may be the reason why garlic intake is able to lower blood pressure. They concluded that garlic powder tablets are cardioprotective.
Karin Ried, Oliver R Frank and Nigel P Stocks, 2010, assessed the effect, tolerability, and acceptability of aged garlic extract as an adjunct treatment to existing antihypertensive medication in patients with treated, but uncontrolled, hypertension.
They found out that garlic lowered blood pressure in patients with uncontrolled hypertension. Their conclusion was that garlic extract is more effective in lowering systolic blood pressure than a placebo. Its effect was like that of current first-line medications in patients with treated but uncontrolled hypertension.
Rizwan Ashraf and colleagues, 2013, evaluated the effect of garlic on blood pressure in patients with essential hypertension. They found out that garlic consumption resulted in a significant decline in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in both dose and duration-dependent manner. Their conclusion was that garlic reduces both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Side effects of garlic intake:
When taken by mouth, garlic can cause bad breath, a burning sensation in the mouth or stomach, heartburn, gas, nausea, vomiting, body odor, and diarrhea. Garlic may also increase the risk of bleeding.
Besides lowering blood pressure, garlic has so many other health benefits which include combating flu, improving cholesterol levels, lowering your risk of heart diseases, preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, improving your athletic performance, and helping you live longer.
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