14 Health benefits of garlic, a flavorful superfood

By Joanne Washburn Food.news


Garlic is one of the most popular spices used in cuisines around the globe. It is also known for its impressive health benefits.

Here are 14 reasons to love garlic, including a few tips on how to incorporate it into your daily diet.

  • Relieves cold symptoms – Garlic can relieve symptoms of the common cold pretty quickly. It can also lower your risk of catching a cold in the first place. One study found that people who took a garlic tablet every day for three months had fewer bouts of the cold than those who took a placebo.

  • Lowers blood pressure – Garlic stimulates the natural production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps relax blood vessels for better blood flow and lower blood pressure.

  • Lowers cholesterol – Garlic may also lower blood cholesterol levels by decreasing the production of cholesterol in the liver. A recent review showed that taking garlic supplements helped decrease total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol levels – two risk factors for heart disease.

  • May prevent dementia – Unstable molecules called free radicals can cause oxidative stress, which can play a huge role in dementia and diseases characterized by dementia. Dementia isn’t a specific disease but a broad term used to describe symptoms that affect memory and thinking. Fortunately, studies show that aged garlic extract has antioxidant properties that can help lower the risk of dementia.

  • Aids in detoxification – Eating foods contaminated with heavy metals like lead can damage your liver, kidneys and other vital organs. Luckily, garlic has sulfur-containing compounds that can help reduce blood lead levels. They may also prevent signs of toxicity, such as headaches and high blood pressure.

  • Heals wounds – Natural healers have long used garlic to treat wounds and prevent infections. For fast healing, apply a poultice made from crushed garlic cloves on your wound. Change it regularly and continue using it until your wound visibly improves.

  • Maintains strong bones – Garlic helps increase estrogen, the major sex hormone in women. Estrogen plays a key role in the growth and maturation of bones.

  • Improves digestion – Eating garlic every day as part of a balanced diet may help ease diarrhea, colitis, intestinal gas and other gastrointestinal issues. Garlic can also get rid of harmful bacteria in your gut.

  • Regulates blood sugar – According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, eating raw garlic cloves may reduce blood sugar levels. As such, people with high blood sugar may greatly benefit from adding garlic to their diet.

  • Boosts immunity – Garlic has antiviral properties and could block the entry of viruses into healthy cells as well as promote a strong immune response to fight off invaders.

  • Maintains good vision – Garlic is rich in nutrients that support optimal eye health and good vision, such as selenium and vitamin C. Quercetin, a powerful antioxidant in garlic, also helps protect the eyes from inflammation and infection.

  • May prevent acne – Garlic’s antibacterial properties come in handy for blocking the onset of acne. It is best used alongside other acne-fighting ingredients, such as raw honey and turmeric, for acne prevention. Additionally, garlic helps protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.

  • Aids in weight loss – According to some animal studies, garlic can stimulate the body to burn more fat and “turn off” some of the genes involved in the formation of fat cells.

  • May prevent fatty liver – Garlic contains a sulfur-containing compound called S-allyl-mercaptocysteine (SAMC), which helps prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. It may also lower the risk of injury or damage to the liver.

How to incorporate garlic into your diet

You can eat garlic cloves raw as part of a salad or add them to your vinaigrette. You can also add garlic to stews, soups, stir-fried dishes, sauteed greens and savory sauces. Additionally, you can add the tender leaves that sprout from the garlic bulb to your noodles, dumplings, scrambled eggs, salads and stir-fried dishes.

To maximize the health benefits of garlic, always use fresh garlic cloves. Allicin, one of the powerful immune-boosting compounds in garlic, is most potent in fresh garlic cloves. Cutting a fresh clove breaks its cells and releases stored enzymes that react with oxygen to trigger the formation of allicin and other compounds.

The more enzymes are released, the more pungent the garlic will taste. Since crushing breaks the most cells, crushed garlic cloves have a stronger taste than coarsely chopped or sliced garlic cloves.

To maximize the effectiveness of garlic’s compounds, let the garlic rest for 10 minutes after chopping or slicing. Studies have shown that this resting stage, which is essential if you plan to cook the garlic, allows the compounds in garlic to fully develop.

Garlic isn’t just great for adding flavor to your favorite dishes, it’s also good for your health. Enjoy garlic’s many health benefits by incorporating it into your favorite dishes.