Many health-conscious consumers are convinced that the garlic supplements they take each day offer many health benefits, including lowering their dangerous cholesterol levels. But does the scientific literature confirm these anecdotal endorsements?

Don’t waste another breath
(or your money) on garlic, say
researchers who recently examined the plant’s effect on cholesterol concentrations in adults with moderate hypercholesterolemia. The study, in which 192 adults took various forms of garlic supplements, found
no evidence that the herb affects low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “lousy”) cholesterol levels. Despite the different forms observed, which included raw, powdered and aged garlic, the results were just as stinky. (For more on “aged” garlic, see the Nuggets section.)

“None of the forms of garlic used in this study . . . had statistically or clinically significant effects on [LDL cholesterol] or other plasma lipid concentrations in adults with moderate hypercholesterolemia,” the researchers reported in the February 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.