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Adding garlic to your meals could help lower cholesterol, expert says

Why cholesterol is bad for you

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Having high cholesterol means you have too much of a fatty substance known as cholesterol in your blood. If left untreated it can have potentially fatal consequences. This is because the cholesterol can build up in the blood vessels, leading to blockages.

These blockages can raise your risk of conditions such as heart disease and strokes.

Therefore, keeping your cholesterol low is vitally important.

It is widely known that having a high-fat diet is a common cause of high cholesterol – also called hypercholesterolaemia.

In particular, doctors advise eating as little saturated fat as possible to keep cholesterol levels down.

However, there are also foods that could have the opposite effect.

One doctor told, that garlic is one such food.

Doctor Deborah Lee, from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, explained: “Garlic contains allicin, a powerful antioxidant which has lipid-lowering properties.

“Consuming half to one clove of garlic per day is believed to lower cholesterol by 10 percent.”

What does the research say?

“In a 2018 meta-analysis of 14 studies of patients with hypercholesterolaemia, treated with garlic or a placebo, regular intake of garlic significantly lowered total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein ‘bad’ cholesterol and raised levels of high-density lipoprotein ‘good’ cholesterol,” Dr Lee said.

“It had no effect on levels of triglycerides (one type of fat found in the blood).

“Study participants took aged black garlic, garlic oil or garlic powder, from 0.3 to 20 grams per day, and were followed up between four weeks and 10 months.

“The authors suggested that garlic may reduce the absorption of cholesterol from the gut into the bloodstream.

“Garlic inhibits the enzymes squalene monooxygenase and HMG-CoA, which are required to produce cholesterol, and hence may directly reduce the synthesis of cholesterol.

“Garlic also has specific effects on liver function to increase bile acid secretion, aiding the breakdown and excretion of cholesterol.”

A warning

But she added: “Although garlic is safe and generally well tolerated, it can interfere with some medications such as anticoagulants, antivirals and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) so if you take regular medication, always check with your GP or pharmacist before taking garlic supplements.

“It is safer and easier to regularly add garlic to your cooking.

“Garlic does seem to lower cholesterol, but the effect is not nearly as strong as taking statins.”

Are your cholesterol levels too high?

A healthy level of total cholesterol in the blood is considered to be five or less millimoles per litre (mmol/l).

More specifically, a healthy level of high-density lipoprotein is one or more mmol/l.

And you should have four or less mmol/l of low-density lipoprotein.

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