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Garlic Health Benefits

written by Guest Blogger March 29, 2016

Who doesn’t love garlic?! If you’re looking for reasons to add more garlic into your diet, then keep reading today’s article by guest blogger, Pablo Matervick from KitchenLifeHacks.com.

In cooking shows, we often find chefs use garlic to add additional flavoring to food. From pan frying to baking, garlic can turn regular food into bold and aromatic dishes. But apart from its role in the culinary industry are its numerous health and therapeutic benefits.

Garlic is a member of the lily or Allium family. It is rich in a variety of sulfur-containing compounds- thiosulfinates, sulfoxides, and dithiins. Despite being the source of garlic’s pungent odor, they are also the source of its health-promoting contributions in the community. Garlic also contains manganese, selenium, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Garlic is able to moderately decrease blood triglycerides and cholesterol. Although this research was conducted with garlic oil, garlic powder and garlic extracts instead of the actual food form, we can’t disregard the fact of this benefit.

Oxidative stress is a major cause of cardiovascular problems which can increase risks of heart attacks and atherosclerosis. Inflammation on the other hand can cause clogging in the blood vessels and plaque formations. Garlic’s sulfur-containing compounds helps protect us from oxidative stress and inflammation.

Ajoene is the particular disulfide responsible for keeping platelets in check, thus, preventing it from becoming too sticky. This lowers the risk of the platelets clumping together forming a clot. Allicin from aliin in garlic blocks angiotensin II activities by preventing it from the contractions of blood vessels and lowering our blood pressure in the process.

Selenium and manganese found in garlic serves as a co-factor as antioxidant enzymes of the body.

Anti-inflammatory Benefits

In animal studies, aged garlic extracts have shown characteristics to reduce and help moderate and improve inflammation from certain body parts. Anti-arthritic compounds are found indiallyl sulfide (DAS) and thiacremonone.

Body’s fat cells (adipocytes) which are related to inflammation cannot develop fully if they cannot progress from the preliminary stage called pre-adipocytes. 1,2, -vinyldithiin, or 1,2-DT is a sulfur compound found in garlic that lessens the conversion of pre-adipocytes to its final developed form of adipocytes.

Antibacterial and Antiviral Benefits

Fresh garlic extracts and powdered garlic have undergone research that promotes garlic’s medical standpoint. Bacteria and viruses can be controlled by the presence of garlic. And not only that, but also infection from yeasts or fungi and even worms.

Crushed garlic even helps prevent infection caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa from burn patients. For bacteria that have become resistant and tolerant of antibiotics, garlic is also able to treat bacterial infections from such. Garlic also helps regulate the body’s response to infection caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori that is a factor for ulcer.

Cancer Prevention Benefits

Daily intake of garlic lowers the risk of all cancer types except for prostate cancer and breast cancer. Several intakes per week on the other hand lowers risks of colorectal and renal cancer. Garlic has a consistent record of anti-cancer benefits.

One of the key components found in garlic that plays a major impact in its anti-cancer benefits is the allyl sulfides. These compounds can activate nuclear erythroid factor (Nrf2), a molecule found in the main cells. When Nrf2 transfers to the cell nucleus, it triggers several metabolic activities. This event prepares the cells for engagement for strong survival response, such as in oxidative stress, or in some cases, programmed cell death or apoptosis. Nrf2 suggests that garlic helps cell response to prevent developing cancerous cells.

Iron Metabolism

Ferroportin is a protein that helps iron return to circulation. It runs across cell membranes and assists the stored iron in leaving the cell. Garlic is able to increase the body’s production of ferroportin that makes the circulation of iron easier for the body as needed.

Some more health benefits of garlic

  1. Strengthens immune system and combats sickness such as the common cold, cough, congestion and chest infections.
  2. Improves cholesterol levels.
  3. Helps prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia due to its antioxidants.
  4. Considered as a ‘performance enhancing’ substance that supplements athletic activities.
  5. Its high iodine levels is effective for treating hyperthyroid conditions.
  6. Regulates blood sugar due to its capability to enhance insulin in blood.

Tips for Preparing Garlic

  • Garlic is arranged in a bulb-like image consisting of individual cloves. Cloves can be easily removed by fingers. Once done, placing the garlic ‘cheeks’ side down and applying pressure with the flat side of a knife can ‘loosen’ up the skin, helping you to easily remove it with your fingers or small knife.
  • Chopping garlic enables its enzymatic process that creates allicin, the most health-producing compound in garlic. For maximum production of allicin, it’s best to let it sit for a few minutes before cooking or adding acidic ingredients like lemon juice.
  • Since chopping garlic activates the enzymatic process of garlic, it is recommended to crush or chop it first before microwaving or cooking as whole cloves can deactivate its enzymes through heating.

Side Effects

Despite its numerous health benefits that aid life, garlic does have a few side effects that we all should be wary about. This includes bad breath, heartburn, upset stomach, body odor, nausea and vomiting. It may also increase risk of bleeding especially when taken raw.

Some studies also show it may cause damage to brain cells. It can also cause inflammation or burn the lining of the intestines that can lead to perforations if eaten often.

About the Author

My name is Pablo Matervick from Boston I’m the co-founder of kitchenlifehacks a specialized blog about kitchen enhancing Tips and dedicated Forum, I like writing to share my passion with the world you can follow me on twitter or join kitchen life hacks community on facebook.

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