Dear Living Well Daily Reader,
Does your doctor have you “watching your numbers”?
Are you worried about your blood pressure or your cholesterol?
Or maybe you’re even on medication for one of these heart-jeopardizing health issues?
If this sounds familiar, then you’re probably also watching your diet and increasing your exercise in hopes of lowering “your numbers” and decreasing your risk of heart problems.
And while stepping it up at the gym and cutting out processed foods and added sugars are all great ways to get your heart health on track, new research shows there are two foods you shouldn’t avoid if you want a healthy heart.
Bold and Sour Flavors Improve Your Heart
The foods are garlic and lemon juice.
And while garlic has long been touted as a heart-protective food, a new study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine determined that lemon juice can amplify its heart-healthy powers.
In a clinical trial, 112 participants who were suffering from high cholesterol were randomly placed into one of four groups. The first group took 20 mg of garlic and one tablespoon of lemon juice daily. The second group took only 20 grams of garlic daily. The third group took only a tablespoon of lemon juice per day. Lastly, the fourth group had no intervention.
During the trial, all participants were instructed to avoid any changes in diet or exercise.
After eight weeks, the scientists re-evaluated the cholesterol levels of all four groups.
And to their surprise, they found that only one group had significant reductions in LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol — the lemon juice and garlic group.
Even more surprising, both the garlic and combination groups experienced a significant decrease in blood pressure when compared against the other two groups.
But perhaps the most shocking part — none of the participants made any other changes to their eating or activity habits.
This means adding simply adding fresh garlic to your diet may lower your blood pressure. And by coupling it with a bit of lemon juice, you could also improve your cholesterol even if you’re not making any other healthy changes.
What a tasty way to lower your numbers!
Of course, adding a little garlic and lemon juice to your meals doesn’t give you a free pass to indulge in bad foods or avoid exercise. You should still make efforts to improve your diet and increase your activity levels, even if you are adding these two heart-health boosters to at least a meal a day.
In the study, participants were given 20 g of garlic a day, which is about two or three cloves of average-sized garlic. For elephant garlic, this is typically an eighth or fourth of a clove, depending on size. (What’s elephant garlic? Tune in to Living Well Daily on Monday to find out more about this amazing plant and its surprising health benefits.)
As for the lemon juice, the researchers used one tablespoon.
It’s easy to add these two foods into your daily routine. Simply add the lemon juice to a glass of cold water for a refreshing beverage. The garlic could be added as seasoning to salads and vegetable dishes or even eaten on its own. Or you can combine the two to make a tasty dressing or marinade.
However you want to enjoy this delicious heath-health combo is up to you. Just make sure you’re eating it daily — for your heart’s sake.
Managing editor, Living Well Daily