Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food, are the words of the ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, often called the father of Western medicine.
Garlic is one of the foods whose main use for ages, has been for its health and medicinal properties. It is a plant in the allium (onion) family. A head of garlic is called bulb which is also made up of segments. Each segment is called a clove. A single segment is made up of about 10-20 cloves. The ancient physicians used to prescribe garlic for the treatment of a variety of medical conditions. Experts posit that modern science has recently confirmed many of these beneficial health effects.
In this country, many people consume garlic in different forms but the most common of all is using it to spice food because of its strong smell and delicious taste. Garlic performs a far greater function than food spicing. It is an antibiotic and anti cancer natural food. Its health effects are caused by one of the sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed and chewed. That sulfur compound is known as allicin, and is also responsible for the distinct garlic smell. Alicia enters the body from the digestive tract and travels all over the body where it exerts its potent biological effects.
Apart from using garlic to spice food, it can be ground or chopped and put in juice, chewed, combined with other herbal medicine etc. In this way, its efficacy is better derived because the active compound, allicin, only forms when garlic is crushed or chewed when it is raw.
Therefore, the best way to consume garlic is to crush and cut it and leave it out for a while before you add it to your recipes.
Garlic is highly nutritious but has very low calories. It is rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese. It contains decent amount of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorous, Iron and B1. It also contains traceable amounts of various other nutrients.
Garlic consumption helps both in the prevention and treatment of some health issues/conditions. Such health conditions include:
Garlic Can Combat Common Cold
Garlic supplementation helps to prevent and reduce the severity of common illnesses like the flu and common cold.
The Active Compounds in Garlic Can Reduce Blood Pressure
High doses of garlic appear to improve blood pressure of those with known High Blood Pressure (hypertension). In some instances, supplementation can be as effective as regular medications.
Garlic Improves Cholesterol Levels, Which May Lower The Risk of Heart Disease
Garlic supplementation seems to reduce total and LDL cholesterol, particularly in those who have high cholesterol. HDL cholesterol and Triglycerides do not seem to be affected.
Garlic Contains Antioxidants That May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Garlic contains antioxidants that protect against cell damage and ageing. It may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia.
Garlic May Help You Live Longer
Garlic has known beneficial effects on common causes of chronic disease, so it makes perfect sense that it could help you live longer.
Eating Garlic Can Help Detoxify Heavy Metals in the Body
Garlic was shown to significantly reduce lead toxicity and related symptoms.
Garlic May Improve Bone Health
Garlic appears to have some benefits for bone health by increasing estrogen levels in females, but more human studies are needed.
What’s New and Beneficial About Garlic
You can increase the health benefits you receive from garlic by letting it sit after you’ve chopped it or crushed it. If you give your chopped/crushed garlic time to sit before changing its temperature (through cooking) or its pH (through the addition of acidic food like lemon juice), it will give the alliinase enzymes in garlic an opportunity to work on behalf of your health. For example, in the absence of chopping or crushing, research has shown that just 60 seconds of immediate microwaving will cause garlic to lose some of its cancer-protective properties. Immediate boiling of whole, intact garlic will also lower these properties, as will immediate addition of a very low-acid ingredient like lemon juice.
Treatment of boils: When garlic juice is applied externally on boils, it helps to ripen, and evacuate the pus which enhances the healing process.
Reduces aging process and cell degeneration: Garlic contains high level of anti-oxidant, vitamin C and Selenium which help to prevent premature aging.
Remedy for respiratory diseases: Garlic contains an essential oil called sulphide which controls the symptoms of pneumonia.
Garlic regulates blood pressure: It is good for people with hypertension since garlic is complementary to blood circulatory functions. In high doses, garlic produces a decrease in blood pressure, both maximum and minimum.
It reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood: When garlic is crushed, it contains allicin, a type of oil which bums up the cholesterol level in the blood.
Treatment of diabetes: Garlic helps to normalize the sugar level in the blood. It promotes waste excretion process which enhances the cure of diabetics.
It prevents and slows down cancer: Regular intake of garlic appears to reduce all stages of cancer development.
It reduces asthmatic attacks: Garlic dissolves the mucus which accumulates inside the lungs. It also relieves the symptoms of cold and cough.
Enhances sexual activeness: It contains nitric oxide, a chemical involved in triggering erection. Garlic helps by widening the artery and improving blood supply to the penis.