Natural Foods Merchandiser

Aged Garlic: A Potent Antioxidant

Regular intake of aged garlic extract seems to reduce damage to the body caused by free radicals, according to a study published in February in the Journal of Nutrition.

Free radicals—atoms formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules during normal bodily processes or from exposure to pollutants—damage cells and are linked to the development of such illnesses as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Garlic is one antioxidant (others include vitamins C and E) that defends against free radicals damage, thereby preserving the body's healthy functioning.

In this study, researchers at England's Liverpool John Moores University gave 10 smoking and 10 nonsmoking adults 5 ml of Kyolic aged garlic extract for two weeks. Blood and urine levels of the F2-isoprostane 8-iso-prostaglandin, a marker for free radical activity, were measured at three points in the study: before supplementation, at two weeks and two weeks after supplementation was discontinued.

Smokers were distinguished from nonsmokers because they usually have elevated levels of free radical activity compared with nonsmokers. At the outset, age- and sex-matched smokers had 8-iso prostaglandin plasma and urine concentrations of 58 percent and 85 percent, respectively, higher than nonsmokers. After two weeks, the concentrations had decreased by 35 percent and 48 percent in smokers; 29 percent and 37 percent in nonsmokers. Two weeks after the end of the study, the levels returned to what they were prior to supplementation.

Researchers concluded that the health benefits of Kyolic AGE last only as long as does supplementation. So to reap any antioxidant boost, the extract should be taken consistently.

Previous research had suggested that garlic's antioxidant effect is thanks to S-allylmercaptocysteine, which is thought to increase glutathione—a detoxification enzyme—produced naturally in the body. S-allylmercaptocysteine is a sulfur compound generated as garlic ages. Fresh garlic has none of this substance.

Barbara Hey is senior editor of Delicious Living.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 3/p. 16

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