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Garlic May Not Lower Cholesterol

Study Shows No Improvement in Cholesterol Levels From Raw Garlic or Garlic Supplements

Study's Results

None of the three forms of garlic affected participants' total cholesterol, LDL ("bad") cholesterol, HDL ("good") cholesterol, triglycerides, or other blood fats, the study shows.

"The lack of effect was compelling and clear," Gardner says in a Stanford news release. "The numbers just didn't move. There was no effect with any of these three products, even though fairly high doses were used."

He says the study was large enough and long enough to have detected any cholesterol changes.

"We even looked separately at the participants with the highest vs. the lowest LDL cholesterol levels at the start of the study, and the results were identical," Gardner says.

However, the researchers don't rule out the possibility that garlic has health benefits for other groups of people (such as those with higher LDL cholesterol levels) or requires higher doses.

Second Opinion

The study's results "do not demonstrate that garlic has no usefulness in the prevention of cardiovascular disease," write the editorialists.

They included Marcus McFerren, MD, PhD, of the Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine at New York's Weill Cornell Medical College.

Many factors affect heart disease, and allicin may not be the only compound in garlic that affects cholesterol, the editorialists suggest.

Garlic supplements are probably safe (no side effects were seen in the study), write McFerren and colleagues. "Do they prevent cardiovascular disease? The jury is still out," the editorialists write.

Gardner's team didn't set out to see if garlic prevented heart disease. The study only tracked cholesterol and other lipid levels.

Supplement Maker Responds

WebMD contacted the makers of Garlicin and Kyolic for their comments.

"I don't know the exact research protocol for this study," Haru Amagase, PhD, director of research and development of Wakunaga of America, which makes Kyolic, tells WebMD.

Amagase says his company's studies show that Kyolic "does not have any influence" on people with normal cholesterol levels, "but if you have a higher cholesterol level, then you might have some reduction" in cholesterol.

He also notes that another Kyolic study shows that "our garlic supplement was effective to slow down the plaque formation in a coronary artery," which he says is "much closer" to heart disease.

"Multiple risk factors are deeply involved in cardiovascular disease," Amagase says. "Of course cholesterol is one of the risk factors, but it's not the single risk factor.

"So we believe that even though it may not have significant cholesterol reduction -- I believe it should have moderate cholesterol reduction -- but I think other risk factors [are] also important," Amagase says.

Garlicin's maker did not respond in time for publication.

 

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Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High, but fortunately your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have other non-measured increases in LDL-like particles that can increase heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is Borderline High. But your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol is High, but your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is near optimal. This could mean you have a high level of high-density lipoprotein, or "good" HDL cholesterol, which protects against heart disease. Or you could have elevated secondary lipids, such as non-HDL particles that increase the risk of heart disease. Your LDL level also could be optimal if you are taking a statin medication. Please check with your doctor to get your complete lipid profile and see if you may need additional treatment. In the meantime, find more information on WebMD's Cholesterol Health Center.

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Borderline High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels!

Your total cholesterol level is High. Your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is High, too. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as statins. Following medication, dietary, and exercise instructions should result in improvements.

Your total cholesterol level is High, and your level of "bad" LDL cholesterol is Very High. Working to bring down your total cholesterol decreases your LDL cholesterol level. You can do this by exercising more and eating less food with saturated fats. Check food labels! If you are struggling to bring down your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, your doctor may prescribe statins or other cholesterol-lowering medications.

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