Study reveals health benefits of garlic are misleading

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, March 7, 2007

By Staff
I found the following article rather interesting. Let's see what you think about it. Garlic, beloved by countless millions of Americans for its culinary and alleged medicinal benefits, has been dealt a setback, perhaps even a serious one.
Stanford University researchers have concluded that garlic stinks in terms of lowering cholesterol, no matter whether people take garlic supplements or strive for a clove a day in their diet.
The study, which Stanford researchers describe as an &#8220excellent” one, directly challenges the findings of previous studies, albeit mostly conducted over shorter periods, which have shown that an active ingredient in garlic, allicin, can reduce cholesterol, at least to a moderate degree.
Despite the dismay the results have sown - and are likely to sow - among garlic enthusiasts everywhere, Stanford researchers nevertheless steadfastly maintain that their $1.5 million study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, constitutes the first independently conducted, long-term study to examine whether raw garlic and garlic supplements can reduce cholesterol in people with moderately high cholesterol. One frequent criticism of earlier studies was that many were funded by the makers of garlic supplements and were conducted over comparatively short periods.
Those involved with the study were given raw garlic, Garlicin-powdered garlic, Kyolic-age garlic or a placebo six days a week for six months. Raw garlic was added to condiments for more than 30,000 sandwiches provided in the course of the study. The participants ate the equivalent of a clove of garlic each day, slightly more than a standard garlic pill.
Participants also were monitored regularly for weight gain, which is a major contributor to cholesterol levels. Stanford researchers also stress none of the participants changed their exercise or dietary habits considerably during the study.
In the course of monthly monitoring, researchers noted that levels of LDL cholesterol, the so-called &#8220bad” cholesterol, remained nearly constant.
For the legions disillusioned garlic enthusiasts who are contemplating throwing their garlic cloves out with the bathwater, one nutrition expert offers this consoling advice: Don't give up - yet, at least.
One study, no matter how prestigious and well conducted, does not constitute the final word.
Even so, Keith stresses that no one should rely on garlic supplements or a diet heavy in garlic to reduce or control their cholesterol, especially if they suffer from high cholesterol.
In fact, as Keith has stressed time and again in the course of his career, &#8220controlling cholesterol really comes down to eating less saturated fat and losing weight” - and using statin drugs in consultation with one's physician in cases where cholesterol levels are especially high.
Does this mean that garlic enthusiasts should abandon their cloves entirely? Not at all, Keith says.
While garlic, compared with most other vegetables and fruits, is not a necessarily outstanding” food in terms of its nutritional quality, Keith says it does contain some phytochemical effects and undoubtedly will remain a popular choice in terms of taste.