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 Herbal Medicine: Curbing cholesterol with garlic 
 
Steven Foster ©

Roasted Garlic
Whole or half heads of garlic are easy to roast in the oven. Roasting makes the cloves fragrant, nutty-sweet, and mild--delicious on their own, spread on bread, or added to any dish that calls for garlic. How many servings this recipe makes depends on how much you like garlic!

1 head garlic
About 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 or 3 thyme sprigs, optional
1 bay leaf, optional

Preheat the oven to 300øF. Remove the outer layers of garlic skin. Slice off about 1/2 inch of the stem to expose the cloves slightly, or leave the head whole. Cut enough aluminum foil to double or triple wrap the head. Place the garlic on the foil, cut side up, and drizzle with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and add herbs, if desired. Wrap the package tightly.

Roast the garlic for 30 minutes, or until soft. Unwrap it and serve warm or at room temperature.

Wild (or Cultivated) Mushrooms and Garlic
Serves 4 to 6
This simple dish can be served as a vegetable side dish, with toast as a first course, or over ribbon noodles.

1 pound wild or cultivated mushrooms such as porcini, chanterelles, morels, shiitake, or oyster mushrooms
3 or 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley

Clean the mushrooms and trim the stems. Leave the mushrooms whole or cut them in large pieces. Oyster mushrooms are best left whole, as they are very tender.

In a large saute pan, gently heat the olive oil over medium-low heat, then add the minced garlic. When the garlic just begins to sizzle, add the mushrooms and cook them, tossing frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they are just done. Season with salt and pepper and toss with parsley. Serve hot.

adapted from The Garlic Book, by Susan Belsinger and Carolyn Dille (Interweave Press, 1993)


Clinical studies
At least forty clinical studies have measured the effect of garlic preparations on total cholesterol. Most have involved tablets standardized to allicin. Treatments lasted from three weeks to ten months. On average, cholesterol levels decreased 10.6 percent.

Twenty-eight additional clinical studies involving patients with high levels of fats in their blood, high cholesterol, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and clogged arteries showed similar results. Participants had an average 10.3 percent decrease in cholesterol levels. A researcher who recently reviewed these studies concluded that a daily dose of 600 to 900 mg of garlic powder, containing 3.6 to 5.4 mg of allicin, can decrease blood lipid levels, decrease LDL cholesterol, and increase HDL.

Cloves or tablets?
In seven of the forty studies referred to above, 3 to 10 g of fresh garlic per day decreased cholesterol levels by an average of 16 percent in the 301 subjects. In thirteen of the studies, 600 to 900 mg of garlic tablets a day decreased cholesterol levels by an average of 10.3 percent in 427 participants. In ten other studies, standardized garlic tablets decreased cholesterol levels by an average of 12.9 percent in 4,179 individuals. Although eating fresh garlic may reduce LDL levels to a greater degree, standardized garlic tablets are both effective and convenient, and they don't carry the risk of stomach upset or garlic breath. Whatever form of garlic you choose, you won't go wrong.

(Excerpted from Herbs for Health Magazine)
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