Garlic is a small vegetable, known as Allium sativum. It has been around for centuries and grown for over 5,000 years. It is native to central Asia, but the ancient Egyptians may have been the first the cultivate this herb. It has been used both for culinary purposes due to its aromatic, pungent but slightly sweet taste, as well as for its highly beneficial medicinal properties.
Garlic is rich in a variety of powerful sulfur-containing compounds including thiosulfinates (the most important being allicin), sulfoxides (alliin being the most important) and dithiins (of which ajoene is the most researched). These sulfur compounds are not only what gives garlic is taste, but are also responsible for its many health benefits. So let’s get to its advantages.
Cardiovascular and High Blood Pressure
People who suffer from high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases can find some help in consuming garlic. Although most of the research has been done on garlic powder, garlic oil and garlic extracts, there is no doubt that garlic has cardioprotective properties. It has been shown to lower blood triglycerides and total cholesterol by atleast 15%. The two most important compounds that are found to have these cardioprotective properties are alliin and allicin, among a list of 14 other sulfur-containing compounds. For high blood pressure, the allicin found in garlic blocks angiotensin II which is a small protein and helps our blood vessels to contract. But when the vessels are contracted, blood is forced to pass through a smaller space and the pressure rises. Garlic is also rich in ppolusulfides which further supports the blood pressure.
In addition, garlic helps prevent blood vessels from becoming blocked, in other words prevents clots from forming inside of the blood vessels. This particular property has been associated with the ajoene found in garlic.
Garlic is also rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, selenium and manganese which all have beneficial cardiovascular effects. The vitamin C is the body’s primary antioxdiant defender, and it protects LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) from forming in the blood stream. Vitamin B6 reduces levels of homocysteine, which can directly damage blood vessel walls. The selenium in garlic also plays a role in antioxidant properties. Manganese is found to increase levels of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) as well as aid in antioxidant effects.
Those who have musculoskeletal and respirator problems, such as asthma and arthritis, may benefti from eating garlic. Garlic contains diallyl sulfide and thiacremonone, both of which have been shown to have anti-arthritic properties. In addition to 1,2-vinyldithiin (1,2-DT), these have been shown to inhibit the inflammatory messengers that get activated during an inflammation response.
Prevent Weight Gain
The 1,2-DT has also been shown to change the way fat cells in the body are made. Fat cells go through a process of converting from preadipocytes to adipocytes, which are the full formed fat cells. The 1,2-DT decreases this conversion.
Antibacterial and Antiviral
It has been shown that garlic can help regulate the body’s response to an infection, particularly with infections that have become resistant to prescription antibiotics. Ajoene is the most responsible compound for this.
Research has shown that garlic has important anti-cancer properties. A high intake of garlic, has been found to lower the risk of all cancer types except prostate cancer and breast cancer. Moderate intake of garlic has been shown to lower the risk of colorectal and renal cancers. Consuming high amounts of garlic is understood to maximize the beneficial anti-cancer properties of garlic.
Recent research has been found that garlic can improve the metabolism of iron. When iron is stored in cells, it involves a protein called ferroportin to move out of the cell and back into circulation. Garlic can increase the body’s production of ferroportin, thus allowing iron to remain in circulation.
Garlic is also useful against colds due to its anti-oxidant properties. Adding garlic to your diet can improve your symptoms and help get the cold out of your system.
Garlic has naturally helps in the production of insulin in the body, so it is great for diabeteics to control their blood sugar levels.
Due to its anti-inflammatory nature, garlic can also treat psoriasis. Psoriasis is a skin disease with symptoms of red, scaly patches that ususally itch. Rubbing garlic on skin that’s affected can help reduce symptoms, but only if used often enough.
Not only does garlic improve the taste of certain dishes such as in pasta, but it has amazing health benefits, particularly for cardiovascular and high blood pressure patients. Raw garlic is the best form to consume it, but cooking with it is also good. However, you need to cook it at low temperatures to preserve the health-protective compounds. Cook it at temperature as high as 121 Celsius.