Information Acquired from Various Professionals in the Field of Natural Health
Garlic has been known around the world for thousands of years both for its culinary and medicinal properties. The characteristic aroma and flavour of garlic is thought to be the result of sulfur-containing compounds, and emerging evidence has shown that these compounds are also responsible for many of the health benefits of garlic. In today’s society, where health advocates place strong emphasis on fresh foods for optimal health, it is interesting to note that some of the compounds in garlic that are found to show the greatest health benefits actually form through aging.
As fresh whole garlic cloves age, they undergo a series of chemical reactions that convert many of the harsh, irritating components of garlic into safer, more stable ones. Many of these compounds are water soluble and lack the pungent and sometimes off-putting odour that is so characteristic of fresh garlic. Over the years, scientific research has shown that many of the compounds in aged garlic extract may have even greater health benefits than those found in fresh garlic! Many of these compounds are found only in aged (not fresh) garlic extract, and unlike the compounds in fresh garlic, they’re much more easily absorbed by the body, chemically stable, and measurable in the bloodstream after consumption.
Aged garlic extract – or AGE for short – has been shown to have a wide range of health benefits. Naturally occurring substances found in AGE have been shown to lower serum cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels by helping to inhibit the liver enzymes responsible for cholesterol production.Studies have shown that AGE can inhibit cholesterol synthesis by as much as 20-60% in liver cells with no adverse effects; conversely, while oil-soluble garlic extracts inhibit cholesterol synthesis to a lesser degree (10-15%), they can also cause damage to surrounding cells.
The benefits of AGE for cardiovascular health are numerous. One of the most common forms of heart disease is coronary artery disease, where cholesterol, calcium, and other substances form plaque on artery walls, hardening and narrowing them. Studies have shown that not only does AGE prevent these plaques from forming, but it can also reverse plaque formation that has already occurred. Similarly, clinical studies have shown that AGE helps to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in individuals suffering from hypertension, and improve circulation in hands and feet.
In addition to its heart health benefits, science is also showing us that AGE can help to support the immune system. Various clinical trials have shown that individuals who took AGE experienced fewer and less severe cold symptoms than those who took a placebo, and they were also less likely to stay home sick from work or school.
We are often told about the health benefits of antioxidants, and their role in everything from anti-aging to cancer prevention. Antioxidants help to neutralize Reactive Oxygen Species, which include free radicals. These are toxic by-products of a normal metabolism, and their levels can increase during inflammation, exercise, and exposure to environmental pollutants, radiation, and sunlight. Not only does AGE act as a potent antioxidant, it also enhances the body’s own production of glutathione, which provides powerful protection against damage from reactive oxygen species. These effects also mean that AGE provides excellent support for liver health. As well as helping to increase the body’s own glutathione levels, research has shown that AGE can help to protect liver cells from damage caused by toxic and cancer-causing compounds. Even more interesting, AGE actually helps the liver to process toxins and some medications (such as the popular over the counter pain killer, acetaminophen) more efficiently, so that the body can detoxify more quickly. In effect, AGE helps the body to help itself.
Evidence clearly suggests that Aged Garlic Extract can provide a wide range of unique health benefits that are often not possible with other garlic products, from cardiovascular health to support for liver and immune function. Some things really do get better with AGE!
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.