Garlic is Best Medicine
Garlic (Allium sativum) is a plant used in cooking and medicine, best known for its distinctive flavor and aroma. While frequently used as a seasoning, garlic is technically a vegetable. A member of the Allium family, it’s a close relative of onions, shallots, leeks, and chives. The benefits of garlic don’t end with adding flavor to food, it’s a legitimate superfood that has been used for an astounding variety of medical applications for thousands of years.
Health Benefits of Garlic
1. Garlic Supports Cardiovascular Health
Garlic is among the best foods for heart health. Studies have found that garlic reduces cholesterol and lowers lipid content in the blood. Experimental and clinical studies on the cardiovascular benefits of garlic have found it to have a positive effect on atherosclerosis, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and thrombosis. Garlic also seems to possess the ability to prevent blood clots. Tests are currently underway to examine the mechanism of this effect.
2. Garlic May Help with Hypertension
Researchers have found that oral administration of garlic can lower blood pressure in both human and animal studies. Amazingly, there was a measurable response after just a single dose. Chronic oral administration of garlic has a long-term positive effect. Allicin seems to have a relaxing effect on the smooth muscle cells of the pulmonary artery, allowing the artery to open more fully. This doesn’t mean that you can switch to an all-bacon diet and expect to “garlic away” the consequences, but when combined with a balanced diet, garlic can substantially improve blood pressure.
3. Garlic Is Nutritional Support Against Cancer
Around the world, studies have found a correlation between a high intake of garlic and a lowered cancer risk. An increased consumption of garlic is associated with a reduction in cancers of the stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, prostate, and breast. The United States National Cancer Institute has said that garlic may be the most effective food for cancer prevention.
4. Garlic and Diabetes
Garlic may also provide significant benefits to those suffering from diabetes. Experimental studies have shown that garlic lowers blood glucose levels and this hypoglycemic effect has been replicated in animal studies. Treatment for humans is less studied but looks promising. Garlic has been reported to lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce insulin resistance. However, further study is needed to fully understand the effect garlic has on human blood glucose levels.
5. Garlic Offers Liver Protection
Garlic is one of the best foods to help cleanse your liver. It can help mitigate the effects of fatty liver disease and provides hepatoprotective effects from certain toxic agents. Studies have found that garlic can protect liver cells from acetaminophen, gentamycin, and nitrates.
6. Antimicrobial Properties of Garlic
For centuries, traditional medicine has used garlic for its antimicrobial properties. Modern studies have found that the antibacterial properties of garlic are effective on salmonella, staph infections, clostridium (the cause of botulism), proteus, mycobacterium, and H. pylori. Garlic has even been suggested as a treatment for drug-resistant tuberculosis.
Garlic’s action against harmful organisms doesn’t stop with bacteria. It’s antiprotozoal, antifungal, and even antiviral. In vitro studies have found that garlic is effective against influenza, cytomegalovirus, rhinovirus (the cause of the common cold), viral pneumonia, rotavirus, herpes simplex 1 and 2, and even HIV. Unfortunately, these results are only confirmed in test tube studies. How the active substances of garlic react to viruses inside the human system remains to be seen.
Studies of cold sufferers have found that those who consumed garlic extract experienced milder symptoms and shorter illness duration than placebo groups, but the exact mechanism behind this phenomena is still unclear. Further research is necessary to more fully understand the healing power of garlic.
7. Garlic Is a Powerful Antioxidant
Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage DNA and lead to poor health. Garlic contains potent antioxidants that fight these free radicals. When allicin breaks down, it produces an acid that reacts with and traps the free radicals. Researchers at Queens University in Ontario believe this may be the most powerful dietary antioxidant ever discovered.