Is garlic good for your heart?
BHF dietitian Victoria Taylor says:
Garlic has long been associated with health benefits – from curing a cold to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Garlic contains vitamins C and B6, manganese and selenium, but it’s a chemical called allicin, a type of antioxidant, which is thought to be responsible for its positive effects.
To address your risk of heart and circulatory diseases it’s important to think about your diet as a whole, rather than one ingredient
There’s not much hard evidence to support the health benefits, but some research has shown reductions in blood pressure as a result of garlic consumption. However, this research was based on people taking garlic extracts or garlic powder, so they were getting a standard amount of the active compounds – probably much more than in the one or two cloves you cook with.
In fresh garlic, there are natural variations in the allicin levels. There is some evidence that ready chopped garlic stored in oil or water, and odourless garlic products have lower allicin levels.
Garlic can add flavour to meals without adding salt. But to address your risk of heart and circulatory diseases it’s important to think about your diet as a whole, rather than one ingredient. Don’t rely on garlic alone to lower your risk!
Meet the expert
Victoria Taylor is a registered dietitian with 20 years’ experience. Her work for the NHS focused on weight management and community programmes for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. She leads the BHF's work on nutrition.