Allium sativum, better known as garlic, is a versatile and flavorful member of the onion family.
Not only has garlic been used to bring flavor to foods for thousands of years, this vegetable has a long history in natural medicine. The Greek physician, Hippocrates was known to prescribe it for fatigue, respiratory problems and poor digestion, according to the Journal of Nutrition.
Hippocrates’ counterparts in the Middle East and Asia used garlic to treat serious ailments, such as bronchitis and hypertension, as well as less troublesome problems like flatulence and colic.
Today, garlic has garnered even more interest, based on an array of medical studies over the past 15 years, naming it as a therapeutic treatment for fighting colds, improving bone health and reducing hypertension.
New research in the Journal of Functional Foods has discovered a new way for garlic to improve your cardiovascular health, with the indirect help of your healthy gut and a good diet.
The problem is the production of Trimethylamine N-oxide, TMAO, a metabolite produced by the liver after gut bacteria digests animal protein. This metabolite contributes to heart disease.
In a study conducted on four groups of mice, researchers discovered that test animals that were fed carnitine (a nutrient contained in red meat, dairy products, avocados and peanut butter) for six weeks produced “a remarkable increase” in plasma TMAO levels, compared to a control group that was given no carnitine.
When garlic is crushed or chopped, the enzyme allinase is released which speeds up the formation of allicin, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. The average garlic clove weighs up to 4 grams and can produce as much as 4,500 micrograms of allicin.
However, when the test subjects were given allicin, a sulfur-based compound in garlic, along with the carnitine, their TMAO levels dropped significantly.
Moreover, the TMAO levels of the group that consumed allicin were as low as those found in the control group who were given no carnitine at all.
This discovery gives medicine a natural and less harmful weapon to fight TMAO. In the past, physicians have treated this condition with antibiotics, which are known to disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut.
Another way to improve your cardiovascular health from a gut perspective: boost your intake of dietary fiber along with taking a probiotic, ideally a product containing multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.
Consuming beneficial foods like garlic, along with a probiotic like EndoMune, are simple ways to improve your cardio health.