10 Health Benefits of Garlic

Garlic has been used to treat many a disease since times immemorial. In fact, it is one of the oldest recorded plants to be used for medicinal purposes. Even ancient Greek physicians used to prescribe garlic as a remedy for a number of conditions. Scientists now have realized that most of these remedies are extremely viable and are supported by sound reasoning and research. Garlic is undoubtedly a very beneficial addition to our food and its importance shouldn’t be overlooked. 

A pinch of garlic makes everything taste better. Find out what a pinch of garlic in your life can help benefit your health.

Increased stamina

There is clear evidence that the ancient Egyptians, especially the lower labor classes used to intake garlic for increased strength and stamina. Cloves of garlic were found during the excavation of King Tutankhamen’s Tomb, piquing the interest of many scientists. Similarly in Greece, garlic has been found abundantly during the excavation of their temples and they were found to use garlic in their military food, especially during battles. Even the athletes at the first Olympics were fed garlic before their events to enhance their performance.

Scientists confirmed these theories with proper research. Allicin, an important ingredient of garlic, helps increase body heat and testosterone level, which in turn aids in muscle growth and enhanced athletic performance.

Wards off “evils”

Not just vampires, garlic helps you get rid of colds and other viruses as well. A 12-week study showed that people who consumed garlic on a regular basis were:

  • 63% less prone to catch a cold
  • The 5-day duration of a cold was reduced to a meager 1.5 days
  • 61% less sick days caused due to a flu or cold.

Garlic can be used to boost your immune system and fight off common colds and such easily.

Detoxification of toxins and metals

Studies have shown that Garlic helps get rid of 50% of the toxins present in your body. Allicin and organo-sulfur compounds (OSCs) present in Garlic makes it an enabler in detoxifying your body. Allicin helps in the production of white blood cells which assist in fighting off toxins. OSCs on the other hand, produce a tremendous amount of detoxification enzymes, making garlic a very effective detoxification supplement. 

It was seen that workers in a car battery plant, who consumed garlic regularly, had 19% fewer lead toxin levels present. Common side effects like headache were also subsided. 

Fat reduction

Garlic is proved to be an appetite suppressant and also responsible for burning calories and fat. It’s seen that appropriate amounts of garlic can reduce LDL cholesterols by10-15%, although it doesn’t play a role in increasing HDL or decreasing triglycerides.

It’s detoxification qualities keep the digestive tract clean, which results in better functioning of bodily functions.

Good for the heart

In ancient times, physicians prescribed garlic to “cleanse the arteries”, even before its actual purpose was known, but it was spot-on. As discussed before, garlic brings down cholesterol levels and it also lowers blood pressure, putting you at a very low risk of having heart troubles. The studies that showed a decrease in lower blood pressure constituted of people taking garlic supplements (garlic extract, garlic powder, etc.) which contain a larger amount of garlic content than what you consume daily through your food. The sulfur in garlic is turned to hydrogen sulfide gas by the red blood cells, which eases the blood pressure regulation by expanding the blood vessels. Another research showed that it took 4 cloves of garlic a day to get the results, but that much garlic per day can cause stomach issues, so you have to be careful about the intake and not overdo it.

Reduced dementia

Cardiovascular diseases and dementia are most commonly caused due to hypertension, high cholesterol levels, inflammation, oxidative stress, etc. As we’ve seen earlier, garlic can be used to lower cholesterol levels and hypertension, thus reducing the chances of common brain diseases such as dementia. 

Garlic is rich in anti-oxidants. The anti-oxidants are known to reduce cell damage and even slow or stop the growth of cancer cells. 

Good for the brain

It doesn’t come as a surprise that garlic is also good for your brain. The presence of sulfur-containing compounds in garlic makes it a great antioxidant and provides anti-inflammatory protection. The anti-oxidants remove free radicals (which are the main cause of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s) and anti-inflammatory protection aids in protecting brain cells from destruction. 

Can garlic be too much?

If we’ve learned anything from all the research, it’s that excess of anything, can be adverse for you. And it is no different in the case of garlic. Even with its unmatched and abundant health benefits, you should take it in moderation as overdoing it may cause an upset stomach, bloating, diarrhea, skin irritation (if you handle fresh garlic or dried garlic), etc. Diabetic patients are advised not to consume too much garlic as it can lower the blood sugar levels too much. Similarly, patients who have low BP are advised against taking lots of garlic in their diet. 

It is recommended to stop taking garlic 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery as the blood-thinning property of garlic may cause excess bleeding.

Enhances the immune system

During research, garlic was shown to kill cancer cells effectively in test tubes. A study (Iowa Women’s Health Study) consisting of 41,000 middle-aged women, showed that there was a 35% lower chance of colon cancer risk to those women who routinely had garlic. The effects were only limited to raw and cooked garlic, not the supplements. 

Good for the liver

Selenium, a mineral found in garlic is known to detoxify the liver. Garlic can also activate liver enzymes which help in naturally flushing out toxins from the body. 

Garlic’s main active ingredient, allicin, becomes ineffective when heated above 140 degrees. So, it should be kept in mind that to maximize the effectiveness of garlic, you should preferably eat it raw (recommended level being 4 grams/1-2 cloves a day), by cutting/crushing it. Add garlic when your food is about to be cooked so that the allicin isn’t killed.