Background: Epidemiological studies have suggested that garlic may have protective effects against cardiovascular diseases. We undertook this cross-sectional observational study to test the hypothesis that regular garlic intake would delay the stiffening of the aorta relating to aging.
Methods and results: We studied healthy adults (n=101; age, 50 to 80 years) who were taking > or = 300 mg/d of standardized garlic powder for > or = 2 years and 101 age- and sex-matched control subjects. Pulse wave velocity (PWV) and pressure-standardized elastic vascular resistance (EVR) were used to measure the elastic properties of the aorta. Blood pressures, heart rate, and plasma lipid levels were similar in the two groups. PWV (8.3+/-1.46 versus 9.8+/-2.45 m/s; P<.0001) and EVR (0.63+/-0.21 versus 0.9+/-0.44 m2 x s(-2) x mm Hg(-1); P<.0001) were lower in the garlic group than in the control group. PWV showed significant positive correlation with age (garlic group, r=.44; control group, r=.52) and systolic blood pressure (SBP) (garlic group, r=.48; control group, r=.54). With any degree of increase in age or SBP, PWV increased less in the garlic group than in the control group (P<.0001). ANCOVA and multiple regression analyses demonstrated that age and SBP were the most important determinants of PWV and that the effect of garlic on PWV was independent of confounding factors.
Conclusions: Chronic garlic powder intake attenuated age-related increases in aortic stiffness. These data strongly support the hypothesis that garlic intake had a protective effect on the elastic properties of the aorta related to aging in humans.