Garlic is a popular flavoring agent which is used around the world today. Though it is considered to be a native of Central Asia, it has left its footprints in Mediterranean, European and African cooking as well.
In modern times, Garlic has proved to be more than a food ingredient, and a lot of studies have concluded its proven health benefits.
China is the largest producer of Garlic followed by India. It is a sturdy plant and is seldom attacked by pests, in fact, it acts as a repellant against most of them.
Garlic has a glossy cover with soft cream colored bulbs inside that are consumed. The outer covering or peel of the garlic can range from white to brilliant pink depending on the species.
Scientific Name: Allium Sativum
Very simple and humble garlic is a powerhouse of numerous essential nutrients. It not only has zero cholesterol but also contains 58.6 grams of water in about 100 grams of serving. Following chart displays the complete composition of Garlic per 100 grams of serving in detail.
It is a rich source of Vitamin B6 which constitutes 62% of our body’s need.
In the case of trace metals too, garlic proves to have a rich composition which fulfills 84% of Manganese, 20% selenium, 15% copper, 18% Calcium and 9% of Iron requirement.
All these estimates are based on 100 grams raw garlic consumption.
If the nutritional composition is an indication, then garlic can do a world of good to our health. It is a versatile ingredient and can be used in most of the savory preparations.
But it works best in raw form and can be swallowed like a pill if you do not fancy chewing it due to its pungent taste and the undesirable odor it leaves in the mouth.
In this section, we will introduce our readers to various health benefits and uses of garlic that will surprise you!
1. Garlic Helps To Controls Blood Sugar and Protect from Diabetes Risk
Blood sugar or glucose level is the concentration of glucose in the blood. Ideal blood sugar level in a non-diabetic person should be 70-100 while fasting and should not exceed 140 after consuming food.
Our food habits determine our glucose level to a large extent and in diabetics, resistance to insulin can rise considerably. Food ingredients that have a low glycemic index prove to reduce the spike in the blood sugar level. (1, 2, 3)
It has a typical glycemic load of just 16 where 100 is the upper limit. This statistic makes it a great inclusion in the regular diet for people who have diabetes and also those who have a family history of this disorder.
Wrap up: Garlic has low glycemic index and contains Vitamin B1 that prevent sudden increase in sugar level.
2. Garlic Control Blood Pressure and Protects Cardiovascular System From Oxidative Stress
Cholesterol and Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) are the top reasons behind blockages in the blood vessels, stroke, heart attack, varicose veins and similar conditions related to heart and blood flow.(6, 7 , 8)
It is also associated with fluctuating blood pressure particularly high blood pressure. What cholesterol does is that it creates a layer of plaque in the inner lining of blood vessels.
Garlic hardly has any fats and contains no cholesterol. In fact, garlic oil is considered the healthiest and is used in many different ways.
Another top concern is with inflammation and oxidative stress. They are responsible for the damage of blood vessels lining caused due to highly active free radicals.
These damages are responsible for risk of development of unwanted plague and clogging. These unwanted plagues block the blood flow resulting heart attack or stroke.
Garlic is a rich source of sulfur-containing constituents that protect from oxidative stress and inflammation. (17)
- 1,2-vinyldithiin (1,2-DT) and thiacremonone: Block the activity of inflammatory messenger
- Ajoene: Have an anti-clotting property that prevents the formation of unwanted plague or clogging.
- Allicin: Block the activity of angiotensin II, preventing unwanted contraction of blood vessels and unwanted increase in blood pressure.
- Polysulfides: Helps to control blood pressure.
- Vitamin C: Protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation and inhibit damage to blood vessels. It lowers the free radicals activity in the blood stream.
- Vitamin B6: Lowers histamine level(responsible for damage of blood vessels).
- Selenium and manganese: Acts as a cofactor in antioxidant defense enzymes providing protection from oxidative stress.
Wrap up: Garlic lowers total and LDL cholesterol that pretect from heart attack or stroke. Also its high sulfur-containing constituents provides poection from oxidative stress.
To Keep your heart healthy read Ultimate Superfoods & Guide That Will Boost Your Heart Health
3. Garlic Fights Fungal Infections
Fungus infection can attack the skin or may affect the insides of your body. On skin, it usually manifests in areas that have moisture like feet, genitals, back of joints, etc. Inside the body, it is mostly known to cause stomach infection and urinary tract infection.
If you are someone who has fungal infections then using garlic might cure and prevent the onset in future.
For strengthening your body against the infections, consume one large clove of garlic every morning on an empty stomach with one glass of warm water.
It’s not only good for fighting infection but also speeds up the metabolism of your body. (21)
For skin infections, apply juice of crushed garlic or garlic oil directly on the infection. It smells bad but it’s effective remedy for such infection. (22)
If this does not appeal to you, then boil about hundred grams of crushed garlic in 4-5 mugs of water until it reduces to half the original quantity. Use this water as a dip for the infected skin. This one is especially effective for fungal infection in the foot.
Along with the allicin content is found to provide an antibacterial and antiviral benefit that protects from microbes including fungi and worms.
Wrap up: Garlic contains allicin that have high anti-fungal property that protect from mutiple fungal infections
4. Improves Neurological Function
Vitamin B6 in 100 grams of Garlic makes up for over 60% of our daily need.
Many studies have shown that Vitamin B6 supplements can have an effect on your mood positively and bring the stress down. It also delays and protects from age-related neurological disorders. (25)
Imbalance in hormones is one of the chief reasons that contribute to mood swings, depression, and other similar psychological problems and this is what Vitamin B6 in garlic combats effectively.
Wrap up: With high Vitamin B6, it imporve overall neurological health.
5. Ginger Protect Eye From Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is mostly an age-related degenerative eye disease. However, younger people are also known to fall prey to this condition in some cases.
In this condition, the vision begins to deteriorate with the line looking blurry and shapes appearing hazy.
Common reasons for Macular degeneration are free radical damage, weak immune system, family history of this disorder, diabetes, blood pressure and nutritional deficiency.
Looking at the common reasons behind this condition, one can rightly point out as to how Garlic combats this Macular degeneration by regulating blood pressure and keeping blood sugar level in check.
Wrap up: With high Vitamin B6 and other antioxidnat it provide protection to eye macula from free radicals damage.
6. Garlic Helps To Develop Stronger Bone Structure
Healthy bones mean not only strong teeth, prevention of Arthritis but also healthy kidneys and bladder. You might be wondering how?
When we say a person has healthy bones, it just means that the calcium deposition, distribution, and excretion is being efficiently carried out in the body. In turn, it ensures that excessive calcium is not being filtered out of the body which cab cause extensive damage to kidneys by choking them up. (30)
Garlic has three nutrients viz. Calcium, Phosphorus and Manganese that help in making bones stronger
Calcium is what our bones are mainly made of. Manganese is responsible for increasing mineral density in the bones which makes them strong and sturdy.(31)
In older people especially amongst women, it delays osteoporosis and provides relief from Postmenopausal symptoms that degenerate bones.
Phosphorus also helps in strengthening the bones by aiding the absorption of calcium in the bone. (32)
Wrap up: With high amount of manganse and phosporus and with calcium, garlic helps to build strong bone.
7. Improves Oxygen Supply And Lower Risk Of Anemia
Oxygen are required by all organs, tissue and cells of our body. Blood is the vessel through which oxygen reaches the entire body.
Two types of protein molecules in blood are responsible for this function:-
Hemoglobin and Hemocyanin,
In this way, Garlic not only aids the oxygen distribution through both the mediums but also reduces the risk of Anemia.
Wrap up: With high supply of iron it improves supply of oxygen and also lowers the risk of Anemia.
8. Protects Myelin Sheath of The Fetus
Myelin Sheath is a layer formed over nerves and is an electrically insulating material.
Myelin is necessary for healthy growth and development in the fetus, children, and adolescents. They increase the speed of impulse transmission and protect the central and peripheral nervous system.
Deficiency lead to obstruction in the brain transmission to the body and may consequently impair the cognitive function in very young children.
Pregnant women should also take care because this sheath begins to form in the brain of the fetus from the 14th week of gestation.
Garlic can provide you with about 18% of your daily requirement of this essential nutrient.
Wrap up: Garlic provides Vitamin B1 that helps to build and protect Myelin Sheath in fetus during pregnency
9. Rich Source of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and, therefore, needs to be replenished continuously and regularly. It has tremendous health benefits, and garlic is one of the most abundant sources of this vitamin.
It is a strong antioxidant which cleans the skin, reduces the incidence of acne and delays the signs of aging. (41)
Vitamin C is essential for maintaining good teeth and gums health. (42)
It is also required for absorbing iron in the body which otherwise would simply pass through our body without getting ingested. (43)
Vitamin C is also used effectively to allay conditions like depression, stress, anxiety, ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in children and fatigue amongst other psychological disturbances. (46)
Wrap up: With Vitamin C it improves absorption of iron and also improces immunity.
10. Garlic is Helpful For Women’s Multiple Health Issues
Studies have shown strong links between optimum level of phosphorus in the body and restoration of fertility. Apart from these, it also regulates the frequency of menstrual periods and blood flow during this time.
Alternative field of medicine called Homeopathy uses phosphorus to treat the painful periods and uterine hemorrhages.
Other Gynecological problem like burning white discharge, irregular bleeding can also be effectively treated by including phosphorus rich food items like garlic in your regular diet.
Wrap up: It is best for many of of women health issues.
11. Combat sickness (common cold)
Garlic is found beneficial to boost immunity.
A 12-week study found that garlic supplement reduces the number of cold by 63%.(48)
A study found that people taking 2.65 gram of garlic had sooner relief from cold compared with the group taking placebo. (49)
Researchers claim that its cold-fighting property may be due to allicin, saponins or amino acid derivatives that reduce the viral infections. (50)
Garlic can be eaten raw or can be added in soup, or it can be taken in the form of supplement.
Wrap up: Taking garlic supplements reduce the number of cold and provide relief sooner
12. Improve Athletic Performance
Garlic’s are used from long time to provide strength and work capacity of labors. It was given to Greece Olympians as the earliest ‘performance enhancing’ agents. (51)
A study with garlic oil found to reduce the peak heart and improved exercise capacity. (52)
No improvement in performance was found on the cyclist. (53)
It’s fatigue lowering property is found to improve performance in sports. (54)
Wrap up: No reason or its efficiency has yet been confirmed to improve athletic performace. But it has fatigue lowering proterty that is said to help in improving sprots performance.
13. Garlic Supplementation Can Help To Detoxify Heavy Metal
High level of exposure to heavy metals can cause acute or chronic toxicity. Long-term exposure to such heavy metals can lead to physical, muscular and neurological diseases.
Some of the common signs of heavy metal poisoning are chronic fatigue, autoimmune disease, brain fog, neurological disorder, insomnia, depression, dementia and anxiety.
A study on rat found that garlic can reduce blood and tissue lead concentrations.
A study was done to find effectivity of garlic and d-penicillamine in lead detoxification. It was found both helped in detoxification. But garlic is a safe and natural compared to d-penicillamine. It can be used to treat mild to moderate lead poisoning. (55)
Wrap up: Gralic is an natural and safest way to get rid of Lead deposition compared to d-penicillamine.
Side Effects of Garlic
Garlic is an acidic food item and chewing on it can erode the enamel of your teeth over a period. Therefore swallowing garlic pods is a better way to eat without harming your teeth.
Heavy dosages of Garlic are known to cause rashes, itching and swelling of the throat, tongue and face in some people.
Common side effects include bad mouth and body odor coupled with heartburn. Stomach upset and heartburn are widely reported because of the acidic nature of garlic, but only if taken in excessive quantity. (56, 57)
If you happen to experience dizziness and difficulty in breathing right after consuming garlic then contact your doctor immediately; it is possible that you might be suffering from an allergic reaction caused by Garlic.
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