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Industry hits back at 'inappropriate' garlic attack

A recent study concluding the use of garlic in whole or supplement form was ineffective in reducing LDL cholesterol has exasperated the industry just as the recent meta-study questioning the effectiveness of many antioxidants did.

While the Stanford University garlic researchers were not as damning in their conclusions as the antioxidant studies review — the researchers did suggest garlic could be effective in reducing cholesterol in those with elevated levels — the study's findings attracted the kind of negative mainstream media headlines that oversimplify and even misrepresent the body of published research.

In the case of garlic, the industry points out there are more than 550 peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate the health benefits of garlic consumption — including cholesterol reduction.

California-based garlic supplements manufacturer Wakunaga of America questioned the study's selection of people with only mildly raised cholesterol levels. "The Stanford garlic study was not appropriate for a group of people with relatively normal cholesterol ranges," the company said in a statement." In various other clinical studies, Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract (its brand of garlic supplements) has been shown effective to help reduce high cholesterol. In addition, Kyolic has been further shown to reduce several other risk factors associated with the progression of heart disease such as reduction of arterial plaque formation, improving circulation, increasing good cholesterol, inhibiting platelet aggregation, lowering blood pressure, reducing elevated homocysteine levels and slowing LDL oxidation."

The researchers wrote that garlic products, "had neither a statistically detectable effect nor clinically relevant effect on plasma lipid concentrations in adults with moderate hypercholesterolaemia". But they added: "The results of this trial should not be generalised to other populations or health effects. Garlic might lower LDL in specific subpopulations, such as those with higher LDL concentrations, or may have other beneficial health effects. Also, we studied only one dosage level, and effects might emerge at higher doses, if tolerated."

Steven Dentali, PhD, vice president of scientific and technical affairs at the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), observed: "This study measured only the effects on lowering LDL and not on its oxidation or on other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This trial provides a reasonable indication to the question of 'Does garlic lower LDL cholesterol?' but offers no clinical information on how else it may support healthy cardiovascular function."

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