There are a good number of vegetables in the world but garlic is believed to have more effect on blood pressure. Though garlic is consumed alone, it is a very popular vegetable with high medicinal value. The scientific name is Allium sativum.
Garlic grows in different parts of the world and is related to chieves, onions, and leeks. There is a belief that this potent medicinal vegetable originates from Siberia from where it spread to different regions about 5000 years ago.
Garlic can be used for numerous medicinal purposes. It is also believed to have some effect on the blood system such as high blood pressure and low blood pressure.
Chemical composition of Garlic
Garlic is widely known for its unique pharmacological properties. It contains about 0.1 -0.3 percent of a special type of volatile oil which gives it these properties. Garlic contains about 33 vital sulfur compounds which include:
Besides containing sulfur compounds, garlic also has 17 different amino acids with their arginine, glycosides, and others. It contains enzymes like myrosinase, peroxidase and allinase; and the mineral selenium.
Garlic contains the highest amount of sulfur compounds than other crops belonging to the Allium species. These compounds, are responsible for the medicinal value and pungent smell it has. And, the action of allinase, an enzyme of garlic on alliin, one of its sulfur compounds, causes the formation of the odor the plant has. However, heat helps to inactivate this strong odor.
Other Constituents of Garlic
- Water content – 65%
- Carbohydrate content – 28%
- Free amino acids – 1.2%
- Dietary fiber – 1.2%
- Protein content – 2% (Mostly glycoproteins and alliinase)
How is Garlic Consumed?
Garlic is consumed in different forms such as raw/fresh, garlic oil, aged garlic and boiled. The boiling helps to stop the compound, alliin, from forming metabolites that contain sulfur.
Fresh and aged supplements of garlic are considered the two great means of enjoying the full benefit of garlic. It has to be sliced, crushed or chewed before cooking to ensure maximum production of allicin, which is the main thing responsible for the numerous beneficial effects of garlic.
What Happens when People with HBP Consume Garlic?
Recent journal claims that garlic significantly lowers blood pressure when consumed by people whose blood pressure are on the high side. The article didn’t publish any new research on the subject. It contained a meta-analysis. What this means, is that previous studies where compiled and systematically analyzed. The idea was to draw a general conclusion from the different results.
In the meta-analysis, 11 studies previously carried out on blood pressure and garlic supplements where identified. In some of the studies, the powdered form of garlic was consumed by participants in different doses, from 600 – 900 mg on daily basis. The studies lasted between 12 – 23 weeks.
The different studies when put together revealed that systolic blood pressure was lowered by garlic to 4.6 mmHg on the average. In those with HBP, the average was reported as 8.4 mmHg systolic while diastolic was 7.3 mmHg. The higher the blood pressures of participants, the higher the reduction.
The powder form of garlic, 600mg has 3.6mg of the beneficial compound, allicin. Allicin is regarded as one of the most active ingredients produced by garlic. In a 900 mg sample, the allicin content is 5.4 mg. But when dealing with a fresh product of garlic, the allicin content may vary from 5 – 9 mg.
This meta-analysis gives some interesting reading. It shows that garlic may affect blood pressure in individuals with HBP. The beauty of any meta-analysis is the fact that it brings together results obtained from numerous smaller studies. After undergoing systematic analysis, it gives a general image of what research is trying to say about a specific topic.
More research is required before garlic can be recommended or used for treating blood pressure issues. Though some of the studies lasted for over 23 weeks, there hasn’t been any evidence to prove that the medicinal effect created by garlic powder would remain active for such a long period. However, the effect of HBP drugs can last for many years; but more research needs to be conducted to determine if the effect of garlic when consumed daily can last for a longer time.
On another note, the study reveals that garlic helps to lower blood pressure, but does not indicate whether lowering blood pressure can also cause a reduction in strokes and heart attacks. But BP drugs have proven to be quite effective when it comes to reducing not only blood pressure but strokes and heart attacks. Therefore more research is also needed to reveal if garlic can produce a similar effect or even better.
Garlic can help to enhance the flavor of foods. So adding it to your meal is a cheaper way of benefitting from the effect of allicin instead of buying the supplement.