Garlic is a herb that is grown around the world. Garlic is found as a white bulb (the shape is similar to an onion). The entire garlic is called a “head” or “knob.” Each small, individual segment of a garlic head is the garlic clove, which is also white in color. A single clove of garlic is equal to one teaspoon of chopped garlic or half a teaspoon of minced garlic. Garlic is a popular ingredient used in several dishes and beverages to add flavor.
Garlic may be added raw, as garlic powder, or in the form of garlic oil to dishes. Garlic is usually consumed cooked but can be eaten raw, which is even better because the raw form preserves all its beneficial nutrients. Most of the benefits of raw garlic come from an enzyme called allicin, which raw garlic is rich in. Allicin has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and anticancer properties. Allicin also gives garlic its characteristic odor. When taken orally, garlic can cause bad breath, a burning sensation in the mouth or stomach, heartburn, gas, nausea, vomiting, body odor, and diarrhea. However, it is safe to eat a clove of garlic a day after a meal. To avoid the bad breath associated with eating raw garlic, it may be cut into small pieces and swallowed instead of chewing. Adding too much garlic while cooking can also result in bad breath.
Health benefits of garlic
The health benefits of garlic are:
- Has medicinal properties: Garlic has been used throughout ancient history for its health and medicinal properties. Health benefits are a result of sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed, or chewed. It has been used to treat several common illnesses such as common colds and athlete’s foot.
- Has high nutrition value and low calories: Garlic is highly nutritious, containing several essential nutrients, and low in calories. One clove of raw garlic contains manganese, vitamin C, selenium, and small amounts of fiber, calcium, copper, phosphorus, iron, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, and potassium.
- Boosts immune system: Garlic has been found to boost the function of the immune system, reducing the occurrence and intensity of common ailments such as the flu and other systemic or skin infections.
- Reduces blood pressure: Active compounds in garlic can reduce hypertension (blood pressure), reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.
- Reduces blood sugar: Garlic reduces pre-meal blood sugar levels in people with or without diabetes. It is effective in patients with diabetes, especially if it is taken for more than three months.
- Reduces cholesterol levels: Garlic can lower the levels of cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart disease.
- Is rich in antioxidants: Antioxidants reduce oxidative damage on the body tissue that slows the process of aging and protects the body. Antioxidants in garlic, combined with its benefits on blood pressure and cholesterol, protect the heart and brain. It reduces the risk of brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Improves physical performance: Garlic can reduce fatigue and improve athletic performance and physical capacity. It was used in ancient times to improve the physical performance of laborers and athletic performance in Olympic athletes in Ancient Greece.
- Detoxifies heavy metals in the body: At high doses, garlic has been found to protect against the organs from heavy metal toxicity due to the sulfur compounds.
- May increase longevity: Benefits of garlic on the heart, brain, and other organs by reducing risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and heavy metal toxicity can help live longer. Garlic is also a rich source of antioxidants and nutrients and boosts the immune system.
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