Garlic’s many health benefits studied

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Garlic's many health benefits studied
Garlic's many health benefits studied

How many ways can garlic, or a touch of garlic, improve health, according to numerous studies? Garlic boosts hydrogen sulfide to relax arteries. Polysulfides and their ability to liberate H2S within cells is behind the effect, study says a study, according to an October 15, 2007 news release, “Garlic boosts hydrogen sulfide to relax arteries.” You can check out the abstract of the study, “Cardiac Contractile Dysfunction and Apoptosis in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats Are Ameliorated by Garlic Oil Supplementation.” It’s published online in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Is eating garlic one of the best ways to lower high blood pressure and protect yourself from cardiovascular disease?

A recent study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) shows this protective effect is closely linked to how much hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is produced from garlic compounds interacting with red blood cells. The University of Alabama (UAB) researchers found this interaction triggered red blood cells to release H2S, which then led to the relaxation of blood vessels. Fresh garlic was used at a concentration equal to eating two cloves. The resulting H2S production caused up to 72 percent vessel relaxation in rat arteries.

This relaxation is a first step in lowering blood pressure and gaining the heart-protective effects of garlic, said David Kraus, Ph.D., a UAB associate professor in the Departments of Environmental Health Sciences and Biology and the study’s lead author, according to the news release.

A garlic-rich diet: Does it have many good effects?

The research team examined molecules in garlic called polysulfides and their ability to liberate H2S within cells. The findings appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). “When these garlic compounds are metabolized to H2S in the vascular system, the H2S targets membrane channels and causes smooth muscle cells to relax,” Kraus said in the news release. “So a garlic-rich diet has many good effects, and H2S may be the common mediator.”

The findings add to a study by John Elrod and David Lefer, Ph.D., of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine published in PNAS that showed H2S protected hearts from the tissue and cell damage often seen in heart attack patients. The recent study, performed by Gloria Benavides, Ph.D., of UAB’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Kraus and others, is the first to show garlic-derived polysulfides in the diet boost bodily H2S production. H2S is a toxic, flammable gas responsible for the smell of rotten eggs. It’s also produced naturally by the body in small amounts, and as age advances, H2S production dwindles.

Does it limit oxidative damage to cells? What’s the role of garlic compounds?

Exactly how H2S affords the cardiovascular system so much protection is not entirely clear, but it may involve limiting oxidative damage in cells, Kraus said, according to the news release. “The role of garlic compounds in preventing platelet aggregation, which can trigger a heart attack or stroke, and in limiting cancer growth and the progression of several diseases is well documented,” he explained.

The new findings show H2S may be the mediator for these protective benefits. Future studies are being planned to better understand how much H2S production is needed through garlic or supplements to maximize those benefits. The research is supported grants from the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health.

A touch of garlic helps kill contaminants in baby formula

Garlic may be bad for your breath. But it’s good for your baby, according to a new study from the University of British Columbia, says a November news release, “A touch of garlic helps kill contaminants in baby formula.”

The study, published online November 22, 2013 in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, is the first to identify two compounds derived from garlic – diallyl sulfide and ajoene – that significantly reduce the contamination risk of Cronobacter sakazakii in the production of dry infant formula powder. You can check out the abstract of the study, “Investigating Cronobacter sakazakii responses to garlic-derived organosulfur compounds: a systematic study of pathogenic bacteria injury using high-throughput whole transcriptome sequencing and confocal micro-Raman spectroscopy.”

The discovery could make the product safer to consume, easing the minds of new mothers who can’t or opt not to breastfeed. “A trace dose of these two compounds is extremely effective in killing C. sakazakii in the food manufacturing process,” says Xiaonan Lu, corresponding author and assistant professor of food safety engineering in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, according to the news release. “They have the potential to eliminate the pathogen before it ever reaches the consumer.”

C. sakazakii is a foodborne pathogen that is sometimes present in dry infant formula powder and other fortified foods. C. sakazakii infection is rare, but often fatal for infants. It can poison a baby’s bloodstream and lead to life-threatening cases of meningitis. Outbreaks of C. sakazakii have occurred worldwide.

According to Lu, the garlic compounds could be used to prevent C. sakazakii contamination on food contact surfaces and in every step of food production – from processing, packaging and delivery

“Pipes used in the manufacturing of milk products are typically cleaned with chemicals like chlorine, but these garlic compounds are a natural alternative,” says Lu, according to a September 29, 2010 news release, Garlic oil shows protective effect against heart disease in diabetes. “We believe these compounds are more beneficial in protecting babies against this pathogen.”

Researchers used high-throughput RNA sequencing and confocal-microscopic lasers to systematically determine the antimicrobial mechanism of garlic compounds on the pathogen. “This is the first step to international collaboration to decrease the potential contamination of dry infant formula powder products transported globally,” says Shuo Wang, in the news release. Wang is a co-corresponding author and president of Tianjin University of Science and Technology and director of National Key Laboratory of Food Nutrition and Safety in China.

Garlic oil may protect against heart disease and diabetes says a recent study

Garlic oil shows protective effect against heart disease in diabetes, says a recent study, “Cardiac Contractile Dysfunction and Apoptosis in Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetic Rats Are Ameliorated by Garlic Oil Supplementation” published October in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Garlic has “significant” potential for preventing cardiomyopathy, a form of heart disease that is a leading cause of death in people with diabetes, scientists have concluded in a new study. Their report, which also explains why people with diabetes are at high risk for diabetic cardiomyopathy, appears in the American Chemical Society ACS’ bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Wei-Wen Kuo and colleagues note that people with diabetes have at least twice the risk of death from heart disease as others, with heart disease accounting for 80 percent of all diabetes-related deaths. They are especially vulnerable to a form of heart disease termed diabetic cardiomyopathy, which inflames and weakens the heart’s muscle tissue, according to the September 29, 2010 news release, “Garlic oil shows protective effect against heart disease in diabetes.”

Kuo’s group had hints from past studies that garlic might protect against heart disease in general and also help control the abnormally high blood sugar levels that occur in diabetes. But they realized that few studies had been done specifically on garlic’s effects on diabetic cardiomyopathy.

The scientists fed either garlic oil or corn oil to laboratory rats with diabetes

Animals given garlic oil experienced beneficial changes associated with protection against heart damage. The changes appeared to be associated with the potent antioxidant properties of garlic oil, the scientists say, adding that they identified more than 20 substances in garlic oil that may contribute to the effect, according to the September 29, 2010 news release, Garlic oil shows protective effect against heart disease in diabetes. “In conclusion, garlic oil possesses significant potential for protecting hearts from diabetes-induced cardiomyopathy,” the report notes.

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