July 30, 2009

Freshly crushed garlic better for heart

Garlic provides cardioprotection, but freshly crushed garlic has more potent heart-healthy effects, U.S. researchers found.

Researchers at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington also challenge the widespread belief that most of garlic's benefits are due to its rich array of antioxidants.

Dipak K. Das and colleagues point out that raw, crushed garlic generates hydrogen sulfide through a chemical reaction. Although best known as the stuff that gives rotten eggs their distinctive odor, hydrogen sulfide also acts as a chemical messenger in the body, relaxing blood vessels and allowing more blood to pass through. However, processed and cooked garlic loses its ability to generate hydrogen sulfide, Das said.

The scientists gave freshly crushed garlic and processed garlic to two groups of lab rats, and then studied how well the animals' hearts recovered from simulated heart attacks.

Both crushed and processed garlic reduced damage from lack of oxygen, but the fresh garlic group had a significantly greater effect on restoring good blood flow in the aorta and increased pressure in the left ventricle of the heart, Das said in a statement.

The findings are scheduled to be published in the Aug. 12 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.