Garlic has long been known as the health booster extraordinaire. But why? The answer lies in the compounds it packs in. Garlic contains several vital nutrients including vitamins, amino acids, and enzymes. It gets its characteristic sulphur smell from the amino acid allicin, and this is responsible for most of its health benefits. Read on to learn more about the health benefits of garlic.
- An excellent anti-oxidant: Research shows conclusively that eating garlic boosts your natural supply of hydrogen sulfide. This gas acts as an antioxidant and helps relax blood vessels and increase blood flow through them, thus promoting cardiovascular health. Higher hydrogen sulphide levels also protect the heart, thereby preventing damage to heart muscle.
- Lowers cholesterol levels: Studies have proved that garlic reduces cholesterol levels, especially LDL and triglycerides by almost 9 to 12 percent.
- Rich in antibacterial and anti-fungal properties: Garlic is a natural antibiotic and can eliminate harmful bacteria while preserving good bacteria. Its allicin content is responsible for its anti-fungal properties.
- Blood thinner: Garlic thins the blood and is an excellent bulwark against heart disease, blood clots, heart attacks and stroke.
- Immune booster: Garlic has strong antiviral properties too. It’s very effective against colds. You can reduce the length and frequency of colds by consuming garlic.
- Lowers atherosclerosis risk: As garlic acts as a blood thinner, it prevents blood clots and destroys plaque, which contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.
- Lowers blood pressure: Garlic is used as a remedy for hypertension all over the world, especially in China and Japan.
- Lowers risk of cancer: Certain cancers can be prevented by eating raw garlic. These include cancers of the stomach, colon, oesophagus, pancreas, and breasts.
Now let’s look at the downsides of garlic consumption.
- A few people may be allergic to garlic. They should never eat garlic raw. And, if they get a skin outbreak, high temperature or headache, they should stop consuming garlic. Eating up to 10 cloves a day is ok, but more than this can have unsavory results like indigestion and garlic-breath.
- Indians are great garlic users, but we make a mistake while cooking with garlic. We cook garlic immediately after crushing or chopping it. But, to maximize the health benefits, you should crush the garlic and use it to cook your curries only after letting it to sit for about 15 minutes. This triggers an enzyme reaction in the crushed garlic cloves that boosts healthy compounds in it.
- Also consume raw garlic first thing in the morning without chewing to reap its awesome health benefits.
- If you are scared of garlic breath, you can consume garlic pills, but the resultant data on these supplements has been mixed. There is no clear indication that the active ingredients in garlic responsible for giving it its health punch, remain active in a pill form too.