Fermented garlic may boost heart health: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Fermented garlic may boost heart health: Study
Daily supplements containing fermented garlic may reduce blood cholesterol levels and boost overall heart health, suggest findings from a clinical trial from Japan.

Garlic fermented with the fungus Monascus pilosus​ reduced blood levels of LDL cholesterol by about 20% after 12 weeks of supplementation, according to findings published in Clinical Nutrition​.

Japanese researchers from Hiroshima University and Wakunaga Pharmaceutical Co. also report that the ration of LDL to HDL cholesterol levels decreased by about 0.5% following supplementation with the fermented garlic product, compared with a 0.1% decrease in the placebo group.

“The present randomized clinical trial demonstrates that [garlic fermented with Monascus pilosus] is useful as a dietary supplement without apparent ill-consequences to reduce serum lipids for mildly hyperlipidemic people,”​ wrote the researchers.

“Intake of [garlic fermented with Monascus pilosus] may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.”

The study was funded by Wakunaga Pharmaceutical, and the Hiroshima-based company provided the product tested.

Natural ‘statin’

The researchers note that the active compound in the fermented garlic is monacolin K, a natural form of lovastatin.

The fermented garlic reported provides a 2 mg of “naturally occurring monacolin K”​, which is a “considerably lower dose than the typical dose of lovastatin”​, where starting doses are in the range of about 20 mg per day.

Monascus pilosus ​is a fungus used in the production of red yeast rice.

Study details

Fifty-five people with elevated triglyceride levels were recruited to participate in the new study and randomly assigned to either the fermented garlic product (900 mg per day with a daily dose 2 mg of monacolin K) or placebo for 12 weeks.

Results of the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial indicated that fermented garlic produced maximum reductions in triglyceride and LDL cholesterol of 14.8% and 14.2%, respectively.

The triglyceride levels decreased until week eight and then returned to baseline levels after 12 weeks.

“The mean triglyceride concentrations during the intake declined by 9.3% from baseline in the MGFE group but increased by 4.8% in the placebo group,”​ wrote the researchers.

“The LDL/HDL ratio, which is a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease, decreased by 20% at week eight, indicating that the intake of 2 mg monacolin K/d may be sufficiently effective as a dietary supplement to prevent cardiovascular disease.”

No changes in the body fat and waist circumference were observed.

“The intake of [garlic fermented with ​Monascus pilosus] decreased triglyceride and cholesterol in serum with no appreciable adverse effects in normal to mildly hyperlipidemic individuals, suggesting that it may be effective to improve and prevent the metabolic syndrome,”​ concluded the researchers.

Source: Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2011.10.008
“Reduction of serum lipids by the intake of the extract of garlic fermented with Monascus pilosus: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial”
Authors: F. Higashikawa, M. Noda, T. Awaya, M. Ushijima, M. Sugiyama

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