- Garlic contains sulfur-based chemical compounds in it are highly nutritious and that provide many benefits for general health as well as for fighting diseases. Garlic’s health benefits range from fighting the common cold to protecting against the growth of cancerous cells.
- Although the various health benefits of garlic have been understood for centuries, only recently have scientific experiments validated many of the benefits, while disproving some of the beliefs about garlic health benefits.
- Garlic can be consumed in several different ways to make use of the benefits offered by its chemical compounds, including being eaten raw, cooked, in a powder form, in oil, and in various types of supplements
Besides being useful as a tasty seasoning for food, garlic has several documented health benefits that make it a popular item for consumption in lots of different forms. Aged Garlic Extract has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Garlic has been shown to treat fatigue. Garlic is also well-known as a potent enemy of the common cold.
If you compare garlic to other sources of calories, you’ll see that it is one of the most nutritious foods a person can eat.
Indeed, garlic is one of the most beneficial of the natural remedies available. Garlic has proven itself over centuries of use, and its historically understood benefits have been reiterated through experiments in modern medicine and research studies.
The purpose of this article is to help you understand what garlic is, why it has so many health benefits, and how you can make use of those health benefits for your particular needs and circumstances.
The evidence of the health benefits of garlic ranges from tradition that has simply been handed down for centuries based on experience of cultures and civilizations to modern science-backed studies that have validated and provided more details about the health benefits of garlic.
What is Garlic?
Garlic (formally called Allium sativum) is a member of the Allium family, and is closely related to the onion, leek, chive, and similar vegetables. Garlic and its relatives are distinguished by the bulbs that grow on them.
Garlic has been used for thousands of years for food and as a traditional approach for medicine and healing. Garlic is native to Asia and India, with close to 85 percent of the world’s garlic production coming from China (about 80%) and India (5%).
Garlic plants can grow to over three feet in height. A garlic clove can be planted in the ground to grow into a new bulb, which normally yields about 5-10 new garlic cloves. Garlic plants are relatively easy to plant and cultivate in mild climates, where they can grow year-round.
Garlic Nutrition and Chemical Compounds
Garlic is one of the most highly nutritious foods a person can consume. One clove of raw garlic provides a significant amount of the daily recommended values for Vitamin B-6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, calcium, protein, manganese, selenium, fiber, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and other healthy nutrients. More information about the nutritional value of garlic is available from the USDA nutrition information page that deals with raw garlic.
This natural abundance of nutrients that exist in garlic make it a great provider of nutrition for the body, so it’s no wonder garlic provides so much value to the cells that make up your body and that require nutrition to operate as intended. Garlic benefits the immune system and other important functions of the human body.
Garlics usefulness and benefits can be attributed to many of the dozens of different sulfur chemical compounds contained in the vegetable. These sulfur compounds, mostly derivatives of allyl (a chemical structure that gets its name from the word “garlic”) make their way from the intestines during digestion and into the bloodstream, bringing with them many health benefits.
Some of the most productive and useful of the garlic compounds are Allicin and Allyl:
- Allicin: Allicin in created whenever a garlic clove is crushed or chopped. This compound is garlic’s natural defense against danger from pests. Allicin has been shown to help in fighting colds. Allicin is thought to be the most useful chemical compound that exists in garlic.
- Diallyl disulphide: This compound is found in the distilled garlic oil. It helps to detoxify cells and prevent inflammation. Diallyl disulphide also inhibits mold and bacteria growth in the cells.
- S-allyl cysteine: This compound has been found to lower cholesterol levels.
- Diallyl trisulfide: Diallyl trisulfide has some anti-cancer effects in the prostate and breast. It has also been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
A list of organosulfur compounds found in garlic is available from a report published by the National Institutes of Health that describes garlic’s role in battling certain types of cancer cells. This report describes the role of the various chemical compounds that occur in garlic in context with some of the variations health promoting functions they serve.
Garlic Used to Treat Diseases and Sickness
As you can see from the information we’ve looked at so far, there are lots of health benefits associated with garlic. Many of the health conditions that garlic has been used to treat historically, including in ancient civilizations in China, Egypt, and elsewhere throughout the world include:
- bacterial infections
- cardiovascular disease
- common cold
- deafness/hearing loss
- heart disease
- stomach aches
- upper respiratory tract infections
There are several types of cancer for which garlic has shown promise or which it has been proven to effectively battle, including:
Specific details about the connection between garlic and the treatment of the ailments listed above can be found by clicking on the links for the particular ailment.
Although many of these disease treatments have not been validated through modern research or scientific experiences, some of them these productive uses for garlic have been confirmed, and many others are currently under investigation to discover more about the specific health benefits of garlic for various conditions.
Modern science is tending to confirm many of the beliefs of ancient cultures regarding garlic, defining mechanisms of action and exploring garlic’s potential for disease prevention and treatment. – Historical perspective on the use of garlic.
Garlic’s Use in Promoting General Health and Vitality
In addition to being used as a natural remedy for diseases and sickness, garlic is often used to promote general health, especially by providing energy to cells and to the body, to increase blood flow, and to provide the nutrition required by the body’s systems in their normal operation.
Two specific areas in which garlic has proven to be a legitimate contributor is in athletic performance and aging.
Garlic has been shown to increase the ability of athletes to perform at higher levels. This athletic performance benefit comes from the ability of garlic administration to increase the maximum oxygen consumption and endurance performance time of athletes as described in a study of college athletes in Turkey.
Other studies have revealed similar findings, that athletes’ bodies are able to take in more oxygen and therefore perform better when there is garlic in their systems. For this reason, garlic is often referred to as possibly the earliest “performance enhancer.” Understanding its value, the ancient Greeks used garlic to help the original Olympians perform their best.
In line with the benefits provided by garlic for the body that help with athletic performance and disease prevention and treatment, garlic is also helpful as an anti aging protocol. It is well understood that aging and the diseases and debilitation that accompany the aging process are due to the proliferation of free radicals (unpaired electrons moving through the body that damage cells, protein, and DNA) that are introduced throughout the body as time passes.
Garlic contains antioxidants that reduce the free radical population and thereby slow the effects of aging. There is evidence that garlic supplements can help with preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
Garlic and the Mediterranean Diet
If you’ve ever heard of the Mediterranean diet, you might know that following that diet has been correlated with being healthier. Studies done in the mid- to late-1900s showed that people in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, especially Italy and Greece, were much healthier than Americans. The health difference was traced to what has since been popularly referenced as the Mediterranean diet.
Garlic is one of the significant components of the Mediterranean diet. Garlic is used in the majority of meals that comprise the Mediterranean diet along with fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, yogurt, olive oil, fish, seafood, and other herbs and spices. Many consider garlic to be the most critical element of the diet.
How to Use and Consume Garlic
It’s one thing to know and understand that garlic can provide lots of health benefits. It’s another to figure out how to get all that goodness into your body, especially without having to chomp down garlic cloves and without dealing with garlic breath all day, every day.
There are several different ways to consume garlic, including everything from eating raw garlic cloves to drinking garlic oil to taking garlic supplements, which are sometimes combined with other nutritious elements for specific health purposes.
Eating Garlic Cloves
Some people find it not too far a stretch to simply peel out garlic cloves and chomp them down. Eating garlic cloves is obviously the most basic way to consume garlic, and it’s not an option for most people.
Chopped or minced garlic is a much more popular mechanism for consuming garlic. Minced garlic is typically found in homemade salsa as well as in guacamole recipes and on toast with butter. Less frequently, minced garlic is added to salad dressings and added to mashed potatoes.
Most people’s spice racks have garlic powder in them. I use garlic powder all the time in my cooking habits, including in stir fries, when seasoning beef or chicken and in most recipes that aren’t intended to be strictly sweet.
Garlic powder is made by drying out garlic cloves and then grinding them into fine particles.
Raw Garlic Juice
Raw garlic cloves are often turned into juice using a garlic press or blender. This form of garlic intake is more convenient for your body to absorb the compounds that make garlic so useful.
Garlic is a popular ingredient in many cooked dishes, including in forms that include chopped garlic, minced garlic, and garlic powder. Garlic can be cooked into lots of different dishes to create a unique flavor. When garlic is cooked, its flavor turns from being pungent to one that is much sweeter and mellow.
Garlic oil is most often actually garlic-infused olive oil. Sometimes other types of oils are used, but olive oil is by far the most popular. Often, salt or some other seasoning is used to change the flavor of the oil.
Thousands of different garlic supplements are available for those who want to be deliberate about their intake of garlic without what is often seen as an inconvenience with integrating garlic in some of its other forms into their daily diets.
Supplement companies have developed lots of different processes for creating variations of garlic intended to highlight particular benefits of the chemical compounds found in garlic.
Health Studies Involving Garlic
For those who want to consume all the scientific nitty gritty about garlic, there are hundreds of studies published on PubMed and other academic and scientific study databases. Here are some that I found most compelling regarding what garlic does for improved health and to fight disease.
- Organosulfur compounds and possible mechanism of garlic in cancer
- Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double-blind, placebo-controlled survey
- Therapeutic Uses and Pharmacological Properties of Garlic, Shallot, and Their Biologically Active Compounds
I hope that you’ve been able to see how beneficial it is for you to include garlic into your diet in whichever way it fits with your lifestyle and preferences. Making small adjustments to what you eat to include garlic, or purchasing supplements that provide you with those benefits will improve your health and likely extend and improve your overall life experience.