Garlic is one of the most commonly used and beloved spices for many world cuisines. From traditional Italian and Chinese dishes to more experimental modern ones, many food items would simply not work without garlic. I mean, could you imagine that a dish of mouth-watering Chicken Parmesan would be able to reach the same level of perfection without garlic? Although this quality will most certainly be what comes to mind for most people when someone mentions garlic, the ever important spice also has a wide array of health benefits.
Throughout human existence garlic has been used by different cultures as a sort of superfood. When looking into and researching the advantages garlic has to offer, you will see many different sources discussing the immune system boosting properties of the crop. While this claim is certainly true, it only barely demonstrates the many different health benefits garlic offers to the human body.
Although many may associate garlic with fatty dishes full of cholesterol and grease, such as Chicken Parmesan, the reality behind the crop is that it can lower both blood pressure and the overall risk of heart disease. While often included in less healthy dishes that do the opposite, garlic itself has been proven to potentially reduce total LDL cholesterol by roughly 10-15%. What makes this statistic even more impressive is the fact that garlic has no diminishing effect on HDL cholesterol levels. In case you were not aware, LDL is the “bad” cholesterol that leads to health issues when reaching high levels within the body while HDL is the “good” cholesterol. Additionally, concentrated garlic extracts can be used as an effective treatment in combating blood pressure. One study showed that doses between 600-1,500 mg had health benefits that were just as effective in combating blood pressure as the popular medicine Atenolol, when prescribed over a 24-week period
Garlic supplements have many benefits beyond treating blood pressure levels. In fact, they can be used to give boosts to the overall immune system, allowing it to combat sickness before or after it begins. One study proving these benefits put the claim to test by having a group of test patients take either a placebo or a garlic supplement after catching the common cold. After a 12-week long test period, patients who had received the supplement had their cold reduced on a much higher level than those that received the placebo; 63% more to be exact. Minor cases of the flu, low fevers, and other similar minor common sicknesses can also be successfully combated using garlic supplements. While it is not a cure in and of itself, garlic has the necessary health qualities to boost the immune system to a level where it can combat those diseases effectively.
Some of garlic’s benefits do not directly relate to serious medical conditions. For example, garlic is considered to be one of the world’s earliest “performance enhancers.” Ancient texts have shown that as far back as Olympic athletes and Egyptian laborers, garlic has been used to reduce fatigue. Recent studies with rodents have shown an increase in exercise performance after doses of garlic supplements had been administered, although human studies have been somewhat scarce. However, the long history of garlic as a performance enhancing, fatigue-reducing supplement is hard to ignore, and its use as a heart disease preventer support its health benefits in this area.
Allicin is the key to garlic’s miraculous health benefits. Allicin is produced whenever the garlic cells are crushed during the cooking or supplement making process. Additionally, garlic contains ajoene and thiosulfates, which also have extreme health benefits. All three of these compounds have strong antioxidants that boost the immune system while also benefiting many other areas of the human body. For example, those with a consistent amount of garlic in their diet have been shown to have much healthier hair than those who do not. Garlic supplements designed to be applied directly to the skin have the potential to treat frustrating diseases such as athlete’s foot.
Garlic also provides an extremely tasty and low-calorie option for spicing up nearly any dish. The crop’s prevalence in world cuisine is no accident, after all. A healthy body can become even healthier when you eat low-calorie foods and avoid overly greasy and fatty foods. With garlic, it is easy to avoid recipes that are bad for your health, while will enjoying strong tastes that will satisfy your cravings.
When examining just how many health advantages the crop has to offer, it is hard to argue against investing in a more garlic-centric diet for yourself and your family. Both cheap and healthy, garlic is one of the best diet changes you can make. Supplements and garlic-based products are also much more cost-effective than many of the alternatives on the market today. An investment in garlic is an investment in a more satisfying and health-conscious existence.
Posted by Mark Contorno