An old-fashioned remedy may help fight one of the newest identified risk factors for stroke and heart attack. In a group of high-risk cardiac patients, researchers found that those taking a garlic supplement for 1 year had a 12% reduction in levels of homocysteine, a chemical that irritates blood vessel linings, leading to plaque buildup. And although both groups were taking powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, artery blockages grew 66% more slowly in the garlic takers.
"This was a small study, but we were pleasantly surprised by our positive results," says Matthew Budoff, MD, assistant professor of medicine at Harbor-UCLA Research and education institute. The study used supplements of 1,200-mg garlic extract per day. Garlic adds to statin's protection.