Did you know there's a connection between garlic and your heart? No, we're not talking about all the people who love garlic and think of it as its own food group. We're talking about how garlic, and especially aged garlic extract, has some important health benefits when it comes to matters of the heart—heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome. And as a bonus: there other health benefits as well.
Of the four different categories of garlic supplements—garlic oil, garlic powder (in capsules and tablets), garlic oil macerates, and aged garlic extract—which one has been garnering lots of attention lately? That would be "aged garlic extract," also referred to as AGE. In fact, nearly 870 scientific peer-reviewed articles at universities have examined the features and effectiveness of aged garlic extract. What's so special about this form of garlic and its relationship to the heart?
What is aged garlic extract?
Aged garlic extract is a highly bioavailable supplement that is made by aging fresh sliced organic garlic at room temperature in an aqueous ethanol solution in stainless steel tanks for up to 20 months. During this prolonged isolation, any unstable and harsh organosulfur compounds (e.g., allicin) in the garlic are transformed into mild, stable substances (e.g., S-allylmercaptocystine, which is unique to AGE, and S-allylcysteine).
The harsh compounds in garlic can cause indigestion and have a pungent odor that lingers on your breath and skin. However, this nearly two-year aging process results in a supplement that is both odor-free and gut-friendly and also readily available to the body.
How does AGE differ from other garlic supplements?
All four types of garlic supplements provide health benefits, but they are not all created equal. Garlic powder and oils, for example, have little or no water-soluble compounds that can be important to guarantee you get the benefits from the garlic.
Both garlic powders and oils contain oil-soluble sulfur compounds that are known to be helpful, but these compounds also have two big downsides: they make your breath and skin smell like garlic, and they are harsh on the body. Aged garlic extract does not have the downsides of the powders and oils.
How does AGE help the heart?
Heart disease/cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of adults in North America and many other parts of the world. Therefore, it makes sense to find effective ways to take care of our ticker. If you want to take care of your heart and cardiovascular system, a nutritious diet and regular exercise are high on the "to-do" list. However, people often resist change, especially when it comes to diet. Old habits are difficult to break.
The majority of the research findings into the activities of aged garlic extract has focused on the heart-related factors, such as cholesterol, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and LDL (low-density lipoprotein), blood circulation, immune system stimulation, homocysteine levels, and liver function. It appears that taking an aged garlic extract can make quite an impact in these areas.
For example, let's consider metabolic syndrome, which is a significant risk factor for heart and cardiovascular disease. This common progressive syndrome affects about 25 percent of people who have three risk factors, which include high blood pressure, high triglycerides, glucose intolerance, low HDL (high-density lipoprotein), obesity, prothrombotic state (increased blood clotting), and a pro-inflammatory state (having features that result in inflammation), among others.
Numerous studies have shown that use of aged garlic extract can reduce many cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, high total cholesterol, and blood clotting problems. It also can stimulate the generation of nitric oxide, a substance that helps enhance blood circulation as well as suppress atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries.
Another way aged garlic extract can protect the heart is by lowering homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid which, at high levels is a risk factor for heart disease. It is associated with low levels of folate and vitamins B6 and B12.
In a 2016 Australian study, the authors reported that aged garlic extract use resulted in a significant decline in systolic blood pressure. In another study published two years later, people with uncontrolled high blood pressure who took aged garlic extract showed a mean drop in blood pressure of 10 mmHg systolic and 5.4 mmHg diastolic when compared with placebo. The garlic supplement also improved arterial stiffness, which is an important indicator for heart disease.
What are other health benefits of aged garlic extract?
The health benefits of aged garlic extract don't stop with the heart. In fact, this garlic supplement may support many other functions in your body. For example:
In a new study, researchers found that aged garlic extract significantly reduced levels of several stress-related hormones, including cortisol, adrenocorticotropic hormone, and corticosterone. The supplement also helped relieve stress by restoring concentrations of certain brain chemicals (e.g., serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, norephinephrine) involved with stress reduction.
In a recent Australian study, aged garlic extract use for three months resulted in an enriched microbial environment in the gut, especially among Lactobacillus species, which have important probiotic properties.
According to scientists at the Hebrew University's Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, using aged garlic extract daily can effectively manage gingivitis gum disease. After four months, those who used the supplement showed a significant reduction in gum inflammation and bleeding when compared with those who used a placebo.
Several animal studies have noted that AGE may be helpful in improving short-term memory and reducing inflammation in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease. The authors of a study from Thailand, for example, reported that aged garlic extract "may be useful for improving the short-term recognition of memory."
How much aged garlic extract should I take?
The recommended dose of aged garlic extract is one 600-mg oral caplet daily or one caplet twice a day. Other options include ¼ to ½ teaspoon (300-600 mg) or 30 to 60 drops of aged garlic extract liquid with meals twice a day.
Twice-daily doses are suggested if you want to support healthy cholesterol levels, enhance blood circulation, improve immune system function, reduce stress and fatigue, and promote a healthy nervous system and liver.
Does AGE cause any side effects?
Based on the studies of aged garlic extract, side effects occur in less than 10 percent of the participants. Those side effects include stomach discomfort, nausea, flatulence, diarrhea, and odor. No known drug interactions with prescribed medications or natural supplements have been observed.
Aged garlic extract appears to be a safe, effective, and timely supplement that can help address some of the more important health concerns we have. If you're looking for a good quality aged garlic supplement, consider Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract.
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