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Ask Tufts Experts January 2011 Issue

Q: Many of us with high cholesterol have considered taking statin drugs, but are wary because of the risk of side ef- fects, especially liver damage. I have seen claims that garlic can reduce bad cholesterol levels without the risks posed by statins. Has any research been done on this?

Answer :  A A 2007 study at Stanford University cast doubt on the claims that garlic is effective in lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol in adults with moderately high levels. The randomized, placebo-controlled trial involved 169 participants over six months. None of the formulations of garlic tested had a statistically signifcant effect on LDL cholesterol levels. According to the National Library of Medicine, results of other studies have been confict- ing. If only the highest-quality studies are considered, however, “reviewers conclude that garlic does not signifcantly lower cholesterol or triglyceride levels.” There is some evidence, on the other hand, that garlic does reduce the loss of elasticity and fexibility of the arteries associated with aging.

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