One of the most commonly used spices, garlic is known for its immense health benefits. It is known for its pungent smell and distinct flavor. Garlic is a species of the onion family. The commonly used part of the plant is the bulb which is divided into many sections called cloves. The cloves are used for raw consumptions or used in cooking various dishes. The roots attached to the bulb and the thin skin of the cloves is not considered to be edible. Garlic has a sulphur bearing compound known by the name of Allicin, which gives the medicinal qualities to this wonder herb.
Nutritional Value of Garlic
Minerals / Vitamins
Amount (per 100gm)
Health Benefits of Garlic
Colds: One of the most common ailments garlic has been touted to treat is the cold. Upon the onset of the sniffles, many people testify that consuming a clove or more of raw garlic takes them away. How can a clove of garlic possibly help? Studies have shown that garlic extract improves immune function, giving our natural defense system a boost, and helping it conserve our levels of antioxidants in our system. It is this strengthening of the immune system that aids in its support for other health related conditions.
Cancer: For years research has been conducted on the effects of garlic on cancer. A healthy immune system is necessary to fight cancer, and we already know conclusively that garlic supports that system. Studies have been done on the population and in animals, as well as in test tubes. What is determined is that garlic has the ability to reduce the formation of cancerous cells. Garlic is shown to actually block cancer causing compounds from forming, and slow the growth of tumor cells. Garlic is especially helpful in blocking oesophagal, breast, stomach, prostate and bladder cancer. Research has proven that compounds in garlic not only slow the rate of growth in a tumor, but can reduce the tumor size by half. When studying the effects on breast cancer, these compounds can actually prevent carcinogens from attaching to breast cells. What are these wondrous compounds? They are diallye disulphide and s-allycystein. These compounds form when garlic is crushed. Among the sulfur components of garlic there are some called ajoenes, which are also noted for their "antitumor" abilities.
Heart Disease: Just as there are many factors that cause heart disease, there are many benefits of garlic that aid in preventing and treating it. So how can garlic help keep our heart in check? First, it helps lower our cholesterol levels. It raises our HDL (good) cholesterol levels, prevents LDL (bad) cholesterol from building up on arterial walls. This reduces the chances of plaque forming in our arteries. It has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels by 9% in people who ate 2 cloves of garlic per day.
Recent studies have also shown it to protect the aorta. The aorta is the heart blood vessel that maintains blood pressure and flow while the heart is pumping. Age, poor diet and environmental factors such as smoking can damage the aorta, causing it to stiffen. Studies have also shown that regular consumption of garlic slows the aging of the aorta and helps keep it flexible.
Hypertension: Another heart benefit of garlic is its ability to help control our blood pressure by thinning our blood. Once again the chemical found in garlic, called ajoene, thins the blood and keeps clots from forming. Studies done with general populations have shown that where there is more garlic consumed in a population, there is also a reduced incidence of hypertension and heart disease. Although garlic's heart healthy benefits may be new to some, for centuries Chinese herbalists have been using garlic to treat people with angina attacks and circulatory disorders.
Infection: Garlic is effective against fighting off a host of infections. It is known for its anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties and has been used since a long time to treat wounds, typhus, cholera, intestinal parasites, and recurrent yeast infections.