What is Garlic?
One of the the spices that has been used for many years is garlic. Garlic belongs to the same family with onion and leek. In addition to culinary purposes, garlic has been used for medicinal purposes.
[note]Many love garlic mainly because of the flavour and aroma it adds to the food. But garlic offers much more than just good flavour.[/note]
Garlic has great healthy benefits that are not known by many people. In this article, I will discuss some of the health benefits that can be derived from consumption of garlic. I wish you a garlic reading.
Health Benefits of Garlic
Garlic is well known to have antibiotic properties. This has been known since 19th Century. In those years, it was observed that French priests who consumed garlic never caught infectious diseases which were prevalent to English priests. Although garlic can sometimes inhibit specific bacteria it’s activity is broad spectrum. This means that garlic can inhibit bacteria belonging to different classes. I am not going into naming specific bacteria in this article. But know very well that garlic is almost a super natural antibiotic.
Recent studies (as recent as 2003) have confirmed that garlic is a potential antibiotic even to drug resistant bacteria.This is the main advantage of garlic over antibiotics in that, bacteria do not become resistant to it (garlic).
It is proved that one segment (clove) of garlic a day will improve your health and 2-3 segments (cloves) will help prevent a cold.
[note]Garlic works mainly due to its potential to reduce free radicals in the blood stream.[/note]
Garlic is a major constituent in foods of people from Mediterranean and far East. The people from these areas are known to have low incidences of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attack. This is highly attributed to their eating habits, including high consumption of garlic.
There are also numerous scientific studies showing that, consumption of garlic helps in reduction of cholesterol levels and production of nitric oxide which is beneficial to the body. Due to these benefits, garlic is a food that helps prevent heart attack, stroke and diabetic heart diseases.
-Reducing blood pressure– Research has shown that consuming garlic can reduce the blood pressure by 1-5%. This small reduction in blood pressure can help reduce chances of stroke and heart diseases by 30-40% and 20-25% respectively.
-Reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol)– The allicin compound in garlic helps to reduce this bad cholesterol. As a natural remedy, taking garlic regularly is a good remedy to cholesterol problems.
[important]Health tip: Consuming a half to one segment (clove) of garlic daily may lower cholesterol by up to 9%.[/important]
Weight control: Consumption of garlic helps in weight control due to its active compound allicin.
Antioxidant properties: The magic working compound, allicin, that is found in garlic, helps body against nicotine as well as slows the ageing of the liver.
Acne problems: Garlic in combination with other treatments can be used to treat acne. Garlic works in treating acne due to its antioxidant and blood cleansing properties.
Nutrients present in Garlic
Garlic is a very good source of many vitamins and minerals which are essential in our bodies. I have listed the major ones below.
Vitamin C– This is a major antioxidant in the body.
Vitamin B6– This helps the body against heart diseases.
Manganese– Acts as a co-factor in many antioxidant defense enzymes. Deficiency of manganese can lead to low levels of good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol).
Selenium-This mineral helps prevent heart disease and colon cancer.
Ways to Prepare Garlic to achieve maximum Benefits
In order to enjoy maximum flavour, aroma and health benefits, it is always advisable to use or buy fresh garlic. Other forms like powder, paste maybe convenient, but there is no assurance of maximum benefits.
1. First step is to separate individual cloves.
2. Remove the skin from the cloves
3. Crushing or chopping garlic helps production of allicin. This is the compound which is responsible for the most benefits in garlic.
4. Allow few minutes after chopping/crushing for complete production of the allicin (the compound responsible for most benefits) before consumption or cooking.
5. For maximum health benefits, crush and cook slightly less than 10 minutes.
6. Always add garlic in the last 10 minutes of cooking to enjoy maximum benefits.
Effects of cooking on Health benefits of Garlic
Slight cooking has no effect of health benefits of garlic. However cooking for long (over 10 mins) or microwaving causes loss of the key health benefits from garlic.
[warning]Never microwave garlic as it kills the active ingredients.[/warning]
Disadvantages of Garlic
Many do not like garlic for the strong garlic breath it leaves in our mouth. This can be overcome by consuming odorless garlic supplement
Garlic consumption can sometime irritate the digestive system. It should therefore be consumed as part of a balanced diet.
[help]Your comments, suggestions, ideas and questions are highly welcome. Leave them below in comment section.[/help]
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2.Cavagnaro PF, Camargo A, Galmarini C.R, Simon PW (2007). Effect of cooking on garlic (Allium sativum L.) antiplatelet activity and thiosulfinates content. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry. 21;55(4):1280-8.
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