When most people think of garlic they think of the intoxicating smell of French and Italian food that beckons you into restaurants you know you can’t afford. Whether it is sautéing garlic in butter or infusing it in olive oil, we are weak to the power of garlic. Sometimes bad breath and vampires creep into our thoughts…But what about the health benefits? Garlic is a superhero when it comes to the positive effects it has on our bodies. Many alternative health practitioners claim garlic as a medicine with its many healing properties. This plant, part of the onion family (Allium) is grown and exported all over the world.For thousands of years and cultures hailing from all over the world, garlic has been used as a medicine. In China and India it was used as an aid in digestion, breathing problems, and to fight parasitic infections. (1) The Canon of Medicine referenced garlic as a compound that works against “arthritis, toothache, chronic cough, constipation, parasitic infestation, snake and insect bites, and gynecologic diseases, as well as in infectious diseases (as antibiotic).” (2) The use of garlic became more popular in Medieval times and is still a popular remedy for many ailments. Allicin is the main component that has healing properties. It is produced when garlic is broken, either sliced or crushed, and the enzyme is activated.
Here are some of the health properties
1. Garlic is good for your metabolism
The nervous system is the major communication network in the human body. Its normal functioning is strongly dependent on the maintenance of its structural integrity and many complex metabolic processes. Subjects with cardiovascular disease have shown positive results when taking even as little as 1g of garlic every day. The property of garlic that is rich in antioxidants fight the free radicals that promote cancer in human and animal subjects. By helping to remove these toxins, the body is less susceptible to cell retardation.
2. Anti-Cancer Properties
Cancer is the leading disease for Americans. Evidence supports garlic’s ability to inhibit tumors and other agents that are responsible for causing cancer. The National Cancer Institute stated, “Several population studies show an association between increased intake of garlic and reduced risk of certain cancers, including cancers of the stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, and breast.” (8)
3. Garlic Boosts the Immune System
Consuming garlic is one way to give your immune system an extra boost. With high antioxidants, garlic helps to eliminate free radicals and sickness causing toxins. For those wanting to avoid getting sick, or decrease the severity of sickness, can offset the common cold or winter flu by adding garlic to their diet or taking a supplement capsule
4. Garlic Fights Blood Pressure
Garlic gains much praise and recognition for its treatment and prevention of heart related disease. Garlic consumption has been proven in the scientific world to have positive effects on lowering blood pressure.
As Cardiovascular disease kills hundred of thousands of people every year, this is a very inexpensive addition to your diet that may help those with hypertension. If you feel compelled to eat meat, fat heavy foods, or friend foods, adding garlic to the dish will work against some of the low-density fats you are adding to your body.
5. Anti-microbial Effects Of Garlic
For centuries garlic has been cited as a useful agent to fight infectious diseases. Allicin, the active antibacterial compound in garlic, modifies the ability of bacteria to reproduce and prevents them from spreading. One way to prevent E.Coli in your cooking is by using raw garlic as a rub for all meats—the powerful antibiotic agent in garlic will kill those germs. The same can be said for salad: using raw garlic in dressings may save you from spoiled spinach or lettuce.
6. Garlic is rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants work against the free radicals that retard cells and cause ageing on the body. Toxin build up directly influences diseases such as including cardiovascular, degenerative disease and cancer. Aged garlic extract is responsible for protecting the brain from memory loss, losing motor and neuron controls in the brain, and helping with longevity.
7. Garlic May Elongate Life Expectancy
As mentioned earlier, Garlic eliminates free radicals and slows degenerative diseases, fights cancerous cells, and lowers blood pressure which all contribute to life longevity in humans and tested animals. By helping to keep humans from obtaining the common cold, and when they do have less severe symptoms puts less stress on the body.
8. Garlic May Increase Athletic Performance
Next time your want to reenact Taylor Swift’s performance in the latest Ipod commercial, add some raw garlic to your eggs. Garlic has been used as an enhancement for athletes for thousands of years. Records show that the first Olympians took a few spoons of crushed garlic before competing. (17) In the medieval times, laborers were given garlic to help fight fatigue. The reason? Garlic works to reduce your heart rate, allowing more blood to get to your muscles and, as a result, have better performance.
9. Garlic is a Proven Detoxifying Food
One element present in garlic is sulfur—hence the unique smells. Besides being high in antioxidants, as mentioned before, garlic has been shown to help rid the body if toxic metals (besides free radicals). Allicin and selenium both work to protect the liver from free radicals, alleviating stress on the organ.
10. Garlic May Increase Estrogen Levels in Menopausal Women
As women get older they often have to bear in mind the loss of calcium and possible osteoporosis. As women experience menopause, their estrogen levels drop, which leads to a reduction in calcium absorption. But one study in which women who received a dry garlic capsule at the equivalence of 2g of fresh garlic showed that there was less of a reduction in their estrogen loss. As a consequence, there were positive benefits for bone health.
11. Garlic is Good For Cognitive Brain Functions and Increased Memory
Garlic consumption is directly correlated with increased levels of serotonin and enhanced memory function. As a result of there is higher cognitive functions demonstrated in rodents. One study found the use of garlic as a food supplement for the enhancement of memory.” (21)
12. Garlic Promotes Weight Control.
In addition to lowering blood pressure, Allicin has been linked to reducing insulin and triglyceride levels. In laboratory animals on a high sugar diet, or even with signs of diabetes, garlic has reduced the spike in insulin and helped with the metabolism of sugars. (22)
Garlic is a Fantastic Culinary Addition
Garlic as a food is a great addition: we have seen all the amazing health and medicinal properties it has; as a extract capsule, aged, or just raw. However, it is also tremendously useful for cooking. As an ingredient, garlic has very low calories with big benefits. Many chefs use garlic fresh, in pastes or oils, and a powder. It is important to remember that Allicin, the active compound, forms when garlic is raw and crushed. The health benefits will not be potent when it is whole and cooked—Allicin loses its healing components when cooked at a temperature higher than 140 degrees. If you do add it to your cooking and seek some of its benefits, it’s best to crush or slice it and leave I exposed to the air for at least 10 minutes before adding it to your food.
When buying garlic at a grocery store try to pick dry bulbs that are firm. Avoid garlic that is soft, or has begun to sprout—it will be over ripe and not have the benefits.
The newly renewed interest in recent increase in alternative medicine and natural products has brought garlic to the forefront of natural remedies. With so many therapeutic effects, and so few negative side effects, garlic is believed to be a safe food and a medicinal herb. Garlic shows evidence in being a safe foods in the fight against cancer, tumors, diabetes, lowering blood pressure, helping to stabilize weight and promote weight loss, protect against various cancers, including breast, prostate and colon cancer. As a natural anti-plaque, antibiotic, and anti-fungal, it can help with germs, bacteria, and infection. Since it helps with the metabolism, that is all the more reason to use it is a fantastic addition to meals, teas, soups, and oils. With so many positives, it is hard to find reasons not to add garlic to your diet.