Garlic in considered the most potent herb having multiple health benefits, only second to turmeric. Garlic has thousands of studies indicating various health benefits ranging from anti microbial to cholesterol lowering effects. Garlic has been used for years in all cuisines all over the world with a distinct taste, smell and flavour. The smell of garlic is due to sulphur contained in it and this character is similar to onion which also has a pungent taste and smell due to sulphur. Sulphur has an important role in body affecting detoxification and other metabolic processes. The most common Health benefits of Garlic can be classified into these 5 categories.
- Anti-Microbial – Garlic has anti bacterial, anti fungal and anti parasitic properties. It is due to the presence of an active ingredient called Allicin in garlic. It has been used as an Anti-fungal agent to control the yeast overgrowth and also effective against common colds and viral infections. The essential oils has now been used in form of supplements for treatment of various viral and bacterial infections. Raw form is also as effective as the supplement form, only thing is the taste and smell which many people are not able to tolerate it when consumed in raw form.
- Cardio-protective – Garlic has long been used as a potent Cardiovascular support agent. The garlic has cholesterol lowering property and prevent oxidation of LDL particles which are more dangerous and increase the risk of overall cardiovascular event. The Garlic has been shown in many studies that it prevent the plaque buildup in arteries, lower blood pressure and prevent clotting of blood. The aged garlic extract in studies has shown to reverse heart disease by preventing atherosclerosis and lowering blood pressure to a great extent.
- Detoxification – The sulphur contained in Garlic has detoxifying properties as it bind to heavy metals and other environmental toxins for the excretion. The sulphur is needed for production of Glutathione, most abundantly present in liver and potent anti oxidant. Lack of sulphur containing foods like garlic, onion and leeks in diet slow or halt the detoxification of certain toxins and metabolites.
- Anti-Inflammatory – Garlic prevents free radical damage and hence oxidative stress which are related to Inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, pancreatitis or spondylitis. The garlic has anti inflammatory properties and reduce the severity or pain, swelling or inflammation in joints or elsewhere due to increased overall free radical production. Due to this property it is also effective in diseases associated with brain functioning like Dementia or Alzheimer. It prevents premature loss of brain function due to high oxidative stress.
- Anti Cancer – The garlic is effective against 14 types of cancer cells including brain, breast, lung, colon and pancreatic cancers. One of the compound Diallyl Sulphide in garlic has activity against Heterocyclic Amines, formed when we char-grilled our meats. This is the reason why its good idea to marinade the meats with garlic before cooking because it acts as anti microbial as well as a HCA neutraliser.
How to use Garlic – Garlic can be used in raw form or can be cooked in dishes. The medicinal properties of garlic is more potent when eaten raw in morning empty stomach. The best way is to crush or chopped 1-2 bulbs of garlic and leave it for few seconds as when the volatile compounds get in contact with air, the Allinase enzyme gets activated which convert the Allin compound to Allicin. The most potent active compound which has medicinal properties is Allicin. Through cooking the garlic in dishes has similar anti oxidant effects as to eating raw but other health benefits can be reaped by having 1-2 bulbs in raw form only. The sprouted garlic has evener higher anti oxidant antioxidant activity where the green shoot comes out at one end of garlic bulb.