Amazing Health Benefits of Garlic
Garlic—it’s one of the most common food seasoning and condiment globally, and even though we know it is good for us, many have shunned it for creating stinky breath after consumption. Whether you love garlic or avoid it like the plague, it is the heart of many cuisines all over the world. In addition to its unique taste, garlic has amazing medicinal qualities that support your health…
Garlic (scientific name Allium sativum) is a species in the onion genus, Allium. It is native to Central Asia and north eastern Iran, and has long been a common seasoning worldwide. Dating back to Ancient Egyptian times, the garlic have been used both as a food flavoring and as a traditional medicine.
Garlic’s pungent smell and sharp taste comes from the sulfur-containing compounds, mainly a substance called allicin. Allicin is known for its antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties. Garlic technically does not contain allicin, but it contains two agents (alliin and an enzyme called allinase) in separate compartments of the clove that react to form the sulfur-rich compound allicin when the plant needs it. So, what makes them react?
Garlic has a robust defense system to protect itself from insects and fungi. It enzymatically produces allicin within seconds when it is injured. The crushing of its tissues causes a chemical reaction between the alliin and the allinase, and allicin is produced. This is what makes garlic such a potent anti-infective, as well as what produces that pungent aroma when you cut into it.
But allicin is short-lived, lasting less than an hour. Therefore, cooking, aging, crushing, and otherwise processing garlic causes allicin to immediately break down into other compounds, so it’s difficult to get allicin up to biologically active levels in your body.
A clove of raw garlic contains approximately 4 calories ; 1 gram carbohydrates; 0.2 gram protein ; 0.1 gram fibre; 0.1 milligram manganese; 0.9 milligram vitamin C; 5.4 milligrams calcium; 0.4 micrograms selenium.
Health Benefits Of Garlic
Eating garlic regularly is not only good for us; it has been linked to helping to prevent four of the major causes of death worldwide, including heart disease, stroke, cancer and infections(1). Though the National Cancer Institute does not recommend any dietary supplement for cancer prevention, it does recognize garlic as one of several vegetables with potential anticancer properties (2)
Here’s a closer look at Garlic’s amazing health benefits :
Garlic Is A Natural Antibiotic
The overuse of antibiotics in large scale meat production has created a whole new group of antibiotic-resistant super bacteria. Such antibiotic resistance is becoming a serious worldwide concern, and sometimes even minor bacterial infections in humans can become a serious health issue if there are no medical antibiotics that can kill the bacteria.
Vancomycin is currently one of the powerful last-resort antibiotic medications that has dozens of serious side effects. However, even vancomycin now cannot kill some resistant strains of enterococcal bacteria (VRE). A scientist who conducted studies have written that “Crude garlic extract…was superior to that of all conventional antibiotics used, except streptomycin… garlic may also possess immune-stimulatory effects in addition to its antibacterial effect”. Garlic has been shown to have inhibitory effects on this superbug as well as anthrax, a killer bacterium (3).
Such scientific studies have reported that garlic can kill a variety of common and dangerous bacteria including:
• campylobacter jejuni (responsible for food poisoning)
• pseudomonas aeruginoasa (pneumonia, and urinary infections)
• E.coli (food poisoning) staphylococcus aureus,
• klebsiella pneumonia (pneumonia, meningitis)
• shigella sonnei (diarrhea, dysentery)
• salmonella typhi (typhoid fever)
• helicobacter pylori responsible for stomach ulcers and cancer.
While there are still some remaining conventional antibiotics that work on superbugs, they kill all beneficial bacteria as well as the harmful bacteria. As we now know, beneficial bacteria are extremely important to our physical, emotional and mental health, and killing them with powerful antibiotics actually weakens our immune systems. Fortunately, garlic knows the difference between good bacteria and bad bacteria, and–better yet, garlic contains prebiotic oligosaccharides, which are non-digestible carbohydrates that feed our healthy bacteria.
Garlic Helps Control High Blood Pressure
A study into the effect of aged garlic extract as an adjunct treatment for people already taking antihypertensive medication yet still having uncontrolled hypertension showed that garlic is highly effective. The study, published in the scientific journal Maturitas, evaluated 50 people with “uncontrollable” blood pressure. It was shown that 960 milligrams of aged garlic extract daily for 3 months resulted in a blood pressure drop of average 10 points.
Another study published in 2014 found that garlic has “the potential to lower BP in hypertensive individuals similarly to standard BP medication” as garlic’s polysulfides promote the opening or widening of blood vessels and, hence, blood pressure reduction. The study has shown that garlic in the form of the standardizable and highly tolerable aged garlic extract could work just as well as prescription hypertension medications (4).
A risk factor in heart attacks and strokes is high blood pressure. Often the drugs used to control blood pressure have many adverse side effects, including impotency, making them undesirable. In the Journal of Pharmaceutical Science, study results showed garlic to work better than atenolol, a popular beta-blocker hypertension medication (5).
Garlic Helps Stabilize Blood Sugar
With refined sugars in most all of our food supply including soft drinks and fruit drinks, obesity and diabetes have become an overwhelming epidemic worldwide. This resulted in chronically high blood sugar, weight gain, heart disease, infections, kidney and eye disease and more in our bodies. Raw garlic has actually been shown to modulate blood sugar, reduce the damage it has on our bodies, and reverse the inflammation and oxidative stress (6). Garlic improves insulin sensitivity so that blood sugar stays in check better (7).
Our pancreas helps to produce insulin, which in turn lowers blood sugar. However,given the high amount of sugar and carb-heavy diets most people eat today, the pancreas is working overtime to produce sufficient insulin to counteract glucose levels. Over time, the pancrease can become exhausted and stop functioning properly. This is diabetes. Allicin from garlic actually helps to repair the pancreas and allow it to better produce necessary insulin. It works for type 1 as well as type 2 diabetes.
Garlic Helps Prevents Heart Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States, followed by cancer. Many physicians still prescribe statins to reduce cholesterol. Unfortunately, statins have had some negative side effects like increasing your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, liver damage, cancer, neurodegeneration, and weakening your muscles including your heart.
One of the most amazing benefits of garlic is that it’s been shown to help reverse early heart disease by removing plaque build-up in arteries. Per a lead researchers, Matthew J. Budoff, M.D., “This study is another demonstration of the benefits of this supplement in reducing the accumulation of soft plaque and preventing the formation of new plaque in the arteries, which can cause heart disease. We have completed four randomized studies, and they have led us to conclude that Aged Garlic Extract can help slow the progression of atherosclerosis and reverse the early stages of heart disease.”
There are also other scientific reviews of experimental and clinical studies of garlic benefits found that, overall, garlic consumption has significant cardioprotective effects in both animal and human studies. (8). These studies have equally suggested that garlic can regulate cholesterol, lower blood pressure, lower inflammation levels, and prevent arterial plaque build-up. (9)
If you can take a natural approach to lowering your LDL cholesterol, you may be better off then long term dependence on statins. LDL numbers can improve with a combination of lower carb/low sugar diet, exercise and garlic. and help prevent heart disease (10).
One of the biggest contributing factors to heart disease is blood clots. Blood clots move along arteries until there is a narrow spot, and then get stuck, blocking off blood flow and oxygen—this creates either a heart attack, or stroke. Some people, based on a variety of factors, including diet, are more prone to have blood clots, but garlic helps to thin the blood in a healthy way. Aspirin has been recommended by the medical establishment as a preventative measure against blood clots, but has recently been rescinded by the Food and Drug Administration. When it comes to anticoagulants, allicin from garlic tops the list (11)..
Garlic Helps Reduce Risks Of Various Cancers
Allium vegetables, especially garlic and onions, and their bioactive sulfur compounds are believed to have effects at each stage of cancer formation and affect many biological processes that modify cancer risk. According to NIH National Cancer Institute, “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.” The National Cancer Institute explains that “protective effects from garlic may arise from its antibacterial properties or from its ability to block the formation of cancer-causing substances, halt the activation of cancer-causing substances, enhance DNA repair, reduce cell proliferation, or induce cell death.”
A study has reported that eating raw garlic twice a week or more reduces the risk of lung cancer by 44% ! Allicin also helps ease congestion and irritation in the lungs and also helps fight pneumonia. When garlic is consumed, the release of organosulfur compounds are excreted through the lungs (garlic breath) but it is precisely this phenomenon that scientists believe provide the protection from cancer (12).
Another French study of 345 breast cancer patients found that increased garlic, onion and fibre consumption were associated with a statistically significant reduction in breast cancer risk (13).
Garlic is also indicated to be helpful when it comes to treating cancer. Garlic’s organosulfur compounds, including DATS, DADS, ajoene, and S-allylmercaptocysteine (SAMC) have been found to induce cell cycle arrest when added to cancer cells during in-vitro experiments. In addition, these sulfur compounds have been found to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) when added to various cancer cell lines grown in culture. Taking liquid garlic extract and S-allylcysteine (SAC) orally has also been reported to increase cancer cell death in animal models of oral cancer (14).
Overall, garlic clearly show some real potential as a cancer-fighting food that you should not ignored.
Garlic Kills Candida Safely
Candida albicans is a fungus that can live in the digestive tract. Usually our beneficial bacteria can keep it under control, but candida is an opportunistic fungal infection that thrives off of glucose and starchy foods. If our diet is off, or our immune system compromised by allergies or other illnesses, it can grow out of control. For many women, this can be a problem, as candida can become an uncomfortable vaginal infection as well. For many people, candida can be chronic and cause brain fog, allergies, digestive issues, bloating, weight gain and more. Prescription anti-fungals are available, but they are harsh to our systems and hard on the liver. Research has shown that Allicin is as good as, or more effective than common pharmaceuticals to suppress growth and kill off excess candida (15).
Best Ways to Use Garlic
Fresh garlic has nutritional benefits superior to that of any kind of processing, such as minced and refrigerated, or dried in flakes. Whole garlic bulbs will keep fresh for about a month if stored properly, preferably away from sunlight in an uncovered container. To consume, it is best to crush or mince the garlic. Once you crushed or minced the garlic, it has to sit for a few minutes in order for the enzymes to activate the powerful phytochemicals in the garlic and produce the allicin. While cooking the garlic may reduce the level of allicin, it is an alternative for people who experience discomfort in their digestive system when they consume raw garlic.
Fermented Black Garlic
White garlic becomes black garlic after a month-long fermentation process under controlled heat and humidity. The result is a jelly like texture that is free from odour and taste like fig. Compared to fresh garlic, black garlic is low in alliin but it is astonishingly high in other antioxidants. In a 2009 mouse study, Japanese researchers found that black garlic was more effective than fresh garlic in reducing the size of tumors. The study was published in the journal Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Technology. In another study, black garlic was found to have twice the antioxidant levels as fresh—the aging/fermenting process appears to double the antioxidants. Black garlic is packed with high concentrations of sulfurous compounds, especially one in particular: s-allylcycteine (SAC). Science has shown a number of health benefits from SAC, including inhibition of cholesterol synthesis. So while black garlic is lower in alliin, it provides other health benefits in the form of antioxidants.
Apply garlic oil to their skin or nails to treat fungal infections, warts, and corns. It is also applied to the skin for hair loss and thrush. Other uses include treatment of acne and relief of toothache by applying garlic oil to the affected areas given it’s anti-inflammatory and sulphuric properties. Just add 1 clove of minced garlic to a quarter cup of olive oil and warm it in a pan, and then leave it to infuse overnight before use.
Dosage And Cautions When Consuming Garlic
The most notable side effect of garlic is the presence of its persistent, distinctive odor being present on your breath and body. Some commercial preparations may boast of lowering this side effect, but you should still be aware that this undesirable side effect might occur.
Since garlic may interact with certain disease conditions or medications you are taking, be sure to tell your healthcare provider that you are taking garlic supplements to lower your cholesterol,
If you are taking any type of blood thinner (anticoagulants like Coumadin®, (warfarin) or need surgery soon, you should not take garlic without first consulting your health care provider because this may lower your ability to clot your blood.
Some people experience gastric issues due to garlic’s irritation to digestive system, particularly when consumed raw.
Although there is not a definite limit on how much garlic you can consume a day, some studies have suggested that too much garlic may be harmful to your liver. One study concluded that doses of garlic above 0.25 g/kg and above per day may harm your liver. For instance, if you weighed 150 lbs, this would roughly equal to consuming 70 grams of garlic today. This would be equivalent to eating 18 cloves of garlic or taking over 100 commercially available tablets (1 tablet = 400 mg).
Ways to Remove Garlic Stinky Breath
Besides brushing your teeth and gargling with mouth wash, here are some natural food that can help to remove “garlic breath”, especially when you gave no immediate access to your dental products!
A study published in the Journal of Food Science reports that milk significantly reduces the concentrations of the odorous compounds produced by garlic. Whole milk deodorized some of these smelly compounds more effectively than fat-free milk.
Eat an apple
The enzyme that causes a cut apple to turn brown also acts as a natural deodorant to the bad-breath causing sulphides in garlic.
Drink Lemon Juice
The acid in lemon juice neutralizes alliinase, an enzyme produced by crushing garlic that causes our unfortunate odor situations. However, you may not want to use this method if you intend to reap the health benefits if alliinase which converts to Allicin.
Drink green tea
Green tea is very high in antioxidants called polyphenols. As with the enzymes in the apple, polyphenols cover up the odor-causing chemicals in garlic.
Parsley’s fresh scent can help mask the unpleasant garlic odor. Plus, it has a cleansing effect inside your mouth.
You can see that the garlic is a super food with amazing health benefits and medicinal properties. It is also extremely cost-effective, super easy to grow and tastes absolutely fantastic (at least to people who love its unique taste and smell). Used in conjunction with a healthy diet and appropriate exercises, you will be able to sustain your health naturally and effectively!