Garlic and cardiovascular disease: a critical review

J Nutr. 2006 Mar;136(3 Suppl):736S-740S. doi: 10.1093/jn/136.3.736S.


Epidemiologic studies show an inverse correlation between garlic consumption and progression of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is associated with multiple factors such as raised serum total cholesterol, raised LDL and an increase in LDL oxidation, increased platelet aggregation, hypertension, and smoking. Numerous in vitro studies have confirmed the ability of garlic to reduce these parameters. Thus, garlic has been shown to inhibit enzymes involved in lipid synthesis, decrease platelet aggregation, prevent lipid peroxidation of oxidized erythrocytes and LDL, increase antioxidant status, and inhibit angiotension-converting enzyme. These findings have also been addressed in clinical trials. The studies point to the fact that garlic reduces cholesterol, inhibits platelet aggregation, reduces blood pressure, and increases antioxidant status. Since 1993, 44% of clinical trials have indicated a reduction in total cholesterol, and the most profound effect has been observed in garlic's ability to reduce the ability of platelets to aggregate. Mixed results have been obtained in the area of blood pressure and oxidative-stress reduction. The findings are limited because very few trials have addressed these issues. The negative results obtained in some clinical trials may also have resulted from usage of different garlic preparations, unknown active constituents and their bioavalability, inadequate randomization, selection of inappropriate subjects, and short duration of trials. This review analyzes in vitro and in vivo studies published since 1993 and concludes that although garlic appears to hold promise in reducing parameters associated with cardiovascular disease, more in-depth and appropriate studies are required.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Blood Coagulation / drug effects
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy*
  • Fibrinolysis
  • Garlic*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Models, Animal
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*


  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts