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Garlic Won't Improve Your Breath, But It May Improve Your Heart Health

Research has been conflicting about the heart health benefits of garlic, but a recent extensive meta-analysis suggests that garlic may lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

The study was conducted by researchers from Shandong University in China and was published January 10, 2012, in The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

The researchers examined 26 studies that investigated the different effects of garlic powder, garlic oil, and aged garlic when compared with a placebo. The garlic powder ranged in dose from 600 to 900 mg per day, the garlic oil from 8.2 to 15 mg per day, and the aged garlic from 1.8 to 7.2 mg per day.

They found that garlic consumption resulted in a 5.4% reduction in cholesterol levels and a 6.5% reduction in triglyceride levels when compared to placebo. They noted that the garlic powder was the most effective of the three forms for lowering cholesterol, while garlic oil was best for bringing down triglyceride levels.

The researchers were quick to note, however, that the benefits were modest for all the forms of garlic when compared to results received from medical interventions. They suggest that garlic be used as a supplement for heart health, not as an alternative form of treatment.

Garlic is well known for its health benefits and is one of the main ingredients in the increasingly popular Mediterranean diet. It is high in magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and selenium, and has been linked to many things including boosting the immune system and keeping your mind sharp as you age.

Garlic can be added to almost any meal, from omelets to salads to meat. If you're worried about “garlic breath,” here's a little tip: studies show that drinking some milk with meals that include garlic may leave your breath smelling better.

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