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Garlic, that pungent and potent bulb found in kitchens around the world, is not just a culinary delight but also a powerhouse of health benefits. A look at the many diverse benefits of garlic can be truly astounding.
From boosting your immune system to promoting heart health, this is a versatile and natural remedy you shouldn’t overlook.
‘Garlic has been shown to exert substantial medicinal effects and is considered to be one of the best disease-preventative foods’ – that powerful statement taken from this study encapsulates the many powerful benefits.
Before diving into the details of the benefits of garlic it helps to understand what it is that makes this herb such a powerful health ally.
The Power of Allicin: Garlic’s Key Active Compound
Garlic owes its impressive health benefits to a compound called allicin. In addition to giving garlic’s its very distinctive pungent smell, allicin also possesses potent antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties.
This compound is the driving force behind the many advantages garlic has to offer.
Garlic also contains several other nutrients including vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, selenium and other trace minerals. All of these contribute to the benefits of garlic.
The best part! Garlic is very, very calories. When you add garlic to your dishes, you get all the nutrients and the flavor without the calories. Win-win!
1. Strengthens The Immune System
Garlic is renowned for its immune-boosting properties thanks to its high allicin content, which gives this bulb its antimicrobial and antiviral properties
Plenty of studies have proven that consuming garlic regularly can strengthen the immune system, and reduce both the length and severity of these types of illnesses.
Aged garlic extract is particularly beneficial for strengthening the immune system. According to this study, aged garlic extract (AGE) contains S-allylcysteine and S-allylmercaptocysteine, two compounds that help to improve immune response, which in turn reduces the impact of inflammatory-associated processes.
In addition, sulfur compounds present in AGE play a key role in suppressing the production of certain pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Another study on the benefits of garlic found that participants who took aged garlic extract supplements for three months experienced less severe symptoms of the cold and flu. The symptoms lasted for a shorter time too.
While garlic by itself will not protect you from the cold and flu, it does help. Consuming garlic regularly is an easy way to boost your immune system and spend less time being sick. Sip on a warm garlic-infused soup, add a sprinkle of crushed garlic to your meals, or take garlic supplements regularly to unleash its cold-fighting potential.
2. Supports Cardiovascular Health
This very interesting study found that garlic lowers cholesterol, inhibits platelet aggregation, and reduces blood pressure, all of which play a vital role in maintaining cardiovascular health.
Research suggests that garlic’s active compound, allicin, breaks down into powerful hydrogen sulfide (H2S) donors, which have cardioprotective effects. Studies show that increased H2S levels improve vascular reactivity and prevent heart injury and dysfunction.
3. Boosts Bone Strength
Garlic contains essential nutrients such as manganese, calcium, and vitamin B6, which are vital for maintaining healthy bones. These nutrients contribute to bone density and strength, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
Taking garlic is especially important for women after menopause.
In this study, participants who took garlic supplements that equaled 2 grams of fresh garlic every day were found to have lower oxidative stress that leads to osteoporosis.
4. Supports Digestive Health
Garlic promotes a healthy digestive system by stimulating the production of enzymes that aid in the breakdown of food. It also acts as a prebiotic, nourishing beneficial gut bacteria and supporting a balanced microbiome.
Regular consumption of garlic can alleviate digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and indigestion.
5. Controls Cholesterol Levels
Garlic has the remarkable ability to lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol). Although this is tied in with the same study on cardiovascular health, garlic’s role in lowering cholesterol deserves special mention.
Other studies have shown that taking garlic supplements regularly for more than two months can lower LDL levels by up to 10%. This improvement was particularly noticeable in participants who had slightly raised cholesterol levels.
The same study found that garlic had no significant effect on triglycerides or HDL (good cholesterol).
Although more research needs to be done to verify these findings, it’s good enough to start adding garlic to your diet.
6. Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, one of the leading causes of death around the world. Studies show that garlic can help to reduce the risk of experiencing cardiovascular problems by as much as 16 % to 40%.
Here’s how garlic works to lower blood pressure naturally. The allicin present in garlic limits the production of a hormone that’s responsible for increasing blood pressure. Allicin also relaxes the blood vessels, allowing for improved blood flow and reduced pressure on the arterial walls.
The study also noted that garlic has a similar effect to some blood pressure medications but with fewer side effects.
7. Detoxifies Heavy Metals In The Body
Garlic contains sulfur compounds that support the body’s natural detoxification processes. These compounds help eliminate toxins, heavy metals, and harmful substances from the body, reducing the burden on the liver and promoting overall well-being.
The allicin in garlic can reduce lead levels in your blood and vital organs by as much as 19%.
Consuming larger quantities of garlic regularly is far more effective at reducing symptoms than compared to some of the drugs being prescribed for the same purpose.
8. Enhances Athletic Performance
This did come as a surprise to me. I had heard about all the other benefits of garlic except for this one but it seems that garlic has been used for centuries as a natural performance enhancer.
It works by improving circulation, increasing oxygen uptake, and reducing exercise-induced fatigue, all of which boost athletic performance.
Athletes and fitness enthusiasts can benefit from incorporating garlic supplements into their diet to enhance endurance and overall performance.
9. Special Mention: Benefits Of Garlic Oil for Skin
Struggling with acne? Garlic, or more specifically, the allicin in garlic can help reduce acne, thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Allicin’s antibacterial properties combat acne-causing bacteria, while its anti-inflammatory effects help soothe redness and inflammation. When applied topically, garlic also improves blood circulation in the area, drawing more nutrients to the skin. The vitamin B-6, vitamin C, zinc, and copper content in garlic also help to combat acne.
Applying garlic oil is an easy and effective way to reduce the frequency and severity of acne breakouts and flare-ups.
How To Use Garlic Oil To Treat Acne
There are a couple of different ways to get the benefits of garlic for the skin, specifically to treat acne.
#1. To use garlic oil for acne put a drop on your fingertip and apply gently over the affected area. Repeat till you’ve covered all affected areas. If you find pure garlic oil too strong for your skin, dilute 2-3 drops with a teaspoon of carrier oil such as sweet almond, jojoba, or sweet coconut. The carrier oil helps to dilute the potency of the garlic oil.
#2. To use fresh garlic for acne, peel, and puree 3 – 4 cloves of garlic and apply directly to the affected area. Mix the garlic puree with a teaspoon of carrier oil such as sweet almond, jojoba, or sweet coconut.
The oil helps to dilute the potency of the garlic and also help to spread it more easily. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes and wash it off.
How to Use Garlic for Health
There are numerous ways to use garlic for health every day. The method that you choose will mainly depend on your tolerance to its taste.
1. Eat it raw
The easiest way to benefit from using garlic for its health benefits is by eating it either raw. Raw garlic is richer in antibacterial properties and has more potent healing properties, especially when consumed on an empty stomach.
Start with fresh garlic, slice it thinly, and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking or eating. Letting cut garlic sit before eating it or using it gives the active compounds a chance to activate. Don’t crush your garlic or you’ll lose some of the healthy properties.
The only downside is raw garlic has a sharp pungent taste. Don’t give up though. You will get used to it.
2 – Use it in your cooking
In my home, we consume a lot of garlic. We use it to flavor almost all dishes from Italian pasta and pesto to Asian curries and sauces. I even infuse virgin olive oil with finely chopped garlic and seasonal herbs and spices to create healthy flavorful low-calorie salad dressings.
Look for recipes online that use garlic or experiment and add a couple of garlic cloves to your regular dishes.
Use sparingly when you’re just starting. Less is more when it comes to garlic because of its overpowering flavor and taste.
If the idea of peeling and chopping a few garlic pods every day doesn’t sound too appealing, buy garlic powder or pre-minced garlic. To get the benefits of garlic powder, make sure to buy from a reputable brand. They use precise techniques to dehydrate and process the raw product, taking care to minimize the loss of nutrients.
3 – Take Garlic Pills Or Garlic Supplements
If you just can’t get used to the taste of garlic, supplements are a great way to get the benefits of garlic without the taste.
As with all other supplements, due your due diligence and buy only from a reputed brand. This will ensure you get the benefits of garlic supplements without experiencing any adverse effects.
Most importantly, whether you choose to buy garlic pills or garlic supplements always follow the instructions carefully.
Use garlic oil or extract – Other options include getting garlic oil to consume or rub on your body, or using a garlic extract.
Precautions When Consuming Garlic
The most notable downside of consuming garlic is that your breath might smell strongly of garlic and this last quite a long time. Depending on your tolerance to garlic, eating it raw or even cooked will leave a lingering taste in your mouth. Chewing on some mint leaves can help to remedy this and leave your breath feeling fresh.
One of the benefits of garlic is its ability to promote blood flow. While this is beneficial in most people, it’s best to avoid too much of it if have any bleeding disorder or if you’re on blood-thinning medications.
Eating too much garlic can also cause heartburn and digestive issues. To avoid the downsides, eat garlic in moderation. 1 to 2 cloves is sufficient to give you the benefits of garlic.
From fortifying your immune system to supporting heart health and combating acne, garlic has proven to be an exceptional natural remedy. Its numerous benefits, combined with its distinctive flavor, make it a must-have ingredient in your kitchen as well as your self-care routine.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is garlic safe for everyone?
Yes, garlic is generally safe for most people when consumed in moderation. However, if you’re taking blood-thinning medications or with certain medical conditions you must consult your healthcare provider before adding garlic to your diet.
Can garlic help with weight loss?
While garlic alone cannot cause weight loss, it can be a valuable addition to a balanced diet and exercise regimen. Garlic’s metabolism-boosting properties and its ability to regulate blood sugar levels may support weight management efforts.
How should I consume garlic for maximum benefits?
To maximize garlic’s benefits, it is best to consume it raw or lightly cooked. Crushing or chopping garlic activates the beneficial compound allicin. However, if the taste or odor is a concern, odorless garlic supplements are available.
Can I use garlic topically?
Yes, garlic can be used topically for its antifungal and antibacterial properties. However, it is essential to exercise caution when using garlic directly on the skin to avoid irritation or burns. It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional before using garlic topically.
Are there any side effects of consuming garlic?
While garlic is generally safe, it can cause stomach upset, heartburn, and bad breath in some individuals. It may also interact with certain medications, so it is best to consult with a healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using any natural medication or if you experience any unusual symptoms. See Full Disclaimer here.