Garlic is infamously known as the “stinky rose” for the potent smell it can leave on your breath. Nevertheless, garlic is used by chefs throughout the world to add flavor to a variety of cuisines. There is more to garlic than flavor, however. Garlic has been treasured for its medicinal properties for ages, used to treat everything from the common cold to the plague. Extending the tales of folk medicine, garlic really is one of the healthiest foods you can eat; but don’t take my word for it. Here are the top 10 reasons to add garlic to your diet.
1. Garlic can help treat acne:
Nearly everyone has acne problems at some point in their life. Many people resort to acne creams that have little or no success at treating their skin. There are many reasons why garlic can help treat acne. To start, garlic is chock full of antioxidants, compounds that fight cancer-causing free radicals. The most powerful sulfur compound in garlic is allicin, which converts into the antioxidant sulfenic acid. It also gives garlic its pungent smell. As an antioxidant, allicin helps remove infectious pathogens from the skin that cause acne. In addition, garlic is an antibacterial and antivirus which can treat the underlying causes of acne. Furthermore, garlic can help treat adult acne by fighting insulin resistance. You can take advantage of garlic’s anti-acne effects by making it into a salad dressing. Simply put a few garlic cloves in olive oil.
2. Garlic can help control hypertension (HTN):
HTN is medical jargon for the amount of force that blood exerts against arterial walls. HTN increases the risk for heart attack, stroke, aneurysms and kidney failure. Garlic has been widely used by people with HTN to treat their condition. According to a review of 21 studies published in the journal Complete Nutrition, the garlic compound allicin consistently led to a reduction in blood pressure. The researchers concluded that garlic tablets can help lower HTN by as much as 10 percent. The authors of the study noted that allicin is cooked out of garlic whenever it is warmed. For this reason, it is best to consume garlic raw.
3. Garlic fights the common cold:
The therapeutic effects of the sulfur compound allicin extend to the common cold as well. Eating fresh garlic that contains allicin can relieve and shorten the life span of the common cold. A 2001 study published in Advances in Therapy involving 146 individuals found that people who took a placebo had significantly longer flu symptoms than people who took an allicin-containing garlic supplement. The results suggest that the allicin in garlic can reduce the risk of catching the cold, and help combat its symptoms quickly if infected.
4. Garlic may reduce the risk of lung cancer:
It is an unfortunate statistic that one in three people are expected to get cancer in their life time. Fortunately, the anti-cancer properties of garlic are an efficient way of keeping this prevalent malady at bay. A study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Medicine compared the diets and lifestyles of 1,424 lung cancer patients with 4,543 healthy adults. The researchers discovered that consuming raw garlic reduced the risk of lung cancer by nearly one-half for nonsmokers, and by one-third for smokers. The authors of the study concluded that garlic may serve as a chemopreventive agent for lung cancer.
5. Garlic helps prevent blood clots:
Garlic acts as a blood thinner, which reduces the risk of blood clots. The blood thinning effects of garlic are attributed to its salicylate content, a naturally occurring compound found in pain relievers. Doctors often recommend blood-thinning medicines that can have mild to life-threatening side effects. For people who are not at a high risk for a heart attack or stroke, garlic can serve as an alternative blood thinner without the side effects of over-the-counter drugs.
6. Garlic eases the pain of arthritis:
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties that can help ease the the pain of osteoarthritis. In addition, the antioxidants in garlic combat free radicals that cause joint damage. Furthermore, the sulfur in garlic can help people with arthritis. Sulfur is a necessary ingredient to make cartilage. People with arthritis have trouble obtaining enough sulfur. The ample amounts of sulfur in garlic can help repair damaged cartilage and soothe muscle pain for people suffering from arthritis.
7. Garlic reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease:
Garlic can help prevent and even reverse the number one cause of death in the United States — heart disease. In particular, garlic can help prevent plaque from building up in the arteries, which can create a blood clot that triggers a heart attack. The sulfur compounds in garlic can help keep blood circulating smoothly. In a study conducted at Harbor–UCLA Medical Center, 72 heart patients had a CAT scan. They were then asked to take two pills of Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract twice a day. Other participants took a placebo instead. A year later, the heart patients had another CAT scan. The researchers found that patients who took the garlic extract had a regression in arterial plaque build up; whereas arterial plaque build up worsened in patients who took the placebo. Other researchers suggest that eating a clove of garlic a day is enough to reap its heart healthy benefits.
8. Garlic can help control diabetes:
Diabetes is another silent killer to plague culture. Luckily, the health benefits of garlic extend to diabetes as well. Type-2 diabetics have lower sensitivity to insulin, which is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows the body to convert sugar (glucose) into energy. The sulfur compounds in garlic can help lower glucose levels. According to a study published in the journal Acta Diabetologica, type-2 diabetics who were fed a garlic supplement called allicor had significantly lower glucose levels than diabetics who took a placebo.
9. Garlic can serve as a natural antifungal:
Athlete’s foot is a contagious skin condition caused by a fungus. An isolated compound in garlic known as ajoene has strong antifungal properties. In a 2000 study published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, researchers compared a garlic solution with 1 percent ajoene to the drug Lamisil, which is used to treat Athlete’s foot. The researchers found that the garlic solution with 1 percent ajoene had a 100 percent success rate, whereas the Lamisil had only a 94 percent success rate. These results held true for other studies as well. You can treat your athlete’s foot naturally by adding a few crushed garlic cloves to a foot bath.
10. Garlic reduces the risk of dementia:
People with high cholesterol or hypertension have an increased risk for dementia. Aged garlic extract (AGE) can kill three birds with one clove by reducing the risk for high cholesterol and hypertension which, in turn, reduces the risk for dementia. AGE can further reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by protecting neurons from cell death caused by beta-amyloid peptides, which are amino acids that plague the brain’s of Alzheimer’s disease patients. In addition, AGE has been shown to help prevent frontal lobe degeneration and may even help neurons associated with memory and learning flourish. While garlic can make your breathe smell bad, it does wonders for your brain.
From acne to dementia, the health benefits of garlic are amazing. It’s easy to incorporate a little garlic into your life. You can cut garlic into small pieces and add it to your favorite pasta, meat, seafood or salad. For these reasons and more, garlic is one of the best herbs you can add to your plate.