The Benefits and Properties of Garlic

Updated: Sep 8

Glossary:


Garlic: Properties, Benefits and Nutritional Value

Nutritional value

Properties and benefits

It improves blood circulation Beneficial for the good functioning of liver

Good for colds and lung conditions

Reduces cholesterol levels

Helps keep our Digestive System Healthy


Myths and Truths about Raw Garlic

No contraindications

Allicin Antibiotic

Antifungal Antivirus Cholesterol Blood pressure

Antioxidant


Garlic: Properties, Benefits and Nutritional Value


Garlic is much more than a condiment, it is an excellent food, loaded with nutritional properties and health benefits, that provides protection from illness and infection. Hence, hanging garlic strings in houses was not only done to scare away vampires, but because in Ancient Greece, Hippocrates, father of modern medicine, used it to treat different diseases. Its regular consumption can help improve the digestion, better absorb the nutrients in food, and also optimizes the functions of the pancreas and liver.



Nutritional value


Garlic has a high nutritional value and contains very few calories. 28 grams contain 42 calories, and plenty of vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese. Taking a clove of garlic on an empty stomach may sound like a grandmother's remedy, but it is recommended to include garlic in the diet not only to reduce bad cholesterol and protect our heart, but also for its cleansing, antiseptic and antibacterial properties.



Properties and benefits


It improves blood circulation


Garlic is rich in vitamin B, an essential compound that reduces homocysteine levels. This substance is responsible for hardening blood vessels and causing thrombosis or coronary artery diseases. Consuming garlic on an empty stomach can help us prevent and fight these health issues.


Beneficial for the good functioning of liver


Garlic is above all an excellent detoxifying food. It helps us eliminate toxins, kill parasites and expel heavy metals such as mercury or remains of medicines that the liver cannot process. Garlic is rich in vitamins A, B and C, very suitable for stimulating liver functions. Another of its virtues is to reduce inflammation, hence it is very healthy to consume a garlic daily in case of having a fatty liver.


Good for colds and lung conditions


Garlic is very useful because it decongests and is a good natural antibiotic to treat lung problems. If you suffer from sinusitis or are having a bad time with a cough, you can steam or prepare a garlic-based syrup.


Reduces cholesterol levels


Garlic contains allicin, a substance that helps for a good functionning of our cardiovascular system. So much so that consuming a natural garlic clove every day can lower bad cholesterol by 9%.


Helps keep our Digestive System Healthy


Garlic stimulates the secretion of gastric acids and as a consequence food is properly digested and absorbed.



Myths and Truths about Raw Garlic


Garlic is not only nutritious, it also helps fight cholesterol, support the immune system, lower blood pressure, avoid colds and improve asthma symptoms. If you have been recommended to eat raw garlic on an empty stomach as a remedy, you should know that, with rare exceptions, it will not do you any harm; but it is not certain that it will free you from your ailments or prevent you from getting sick.


What you will not be able to get rid of is that characteristic and persistent smell - unpleasant for others - that it leaves on your breath. Because to benefit from most of its virtues it is essential to take it raw. When it reaches a temperature above 45 degrees many of them disappear as if by magic.


Garlic has a long history of use that comes from many different cultures and societies dating back thousands of years, and there are many scientists who have dedicated themselves to studying it to corroborate whether it has as many healing properties as it is widely believed (including Pasteur himself). And although there seems to be a scientific basis for thinking that its components have many properties, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, not many are irrefutably conclusive and further research is needed.


For example, the National Cancer Institute recognizes that garlic has potential anti-cancer properties, but it does not recommend consuming garlic supplements to prevent cancer. And even less in the hope of curing it.


No contraindications


Eating raw garlic has no significant contraindications if consumed in regular amounts, except for people whose consumption of garlic may cause stomach irritation or allergy, but it is warned that it might counteract the drugs' effect used in the treatment of blood circulation problems, and it has also been determined that it can decrease the effectiveness of drugs such as saquinavir, used in the treatment of HIV.


Eating garlic on an empty stomach has the same effects taken at any time of the day, but it does not help much if swallowed whole. The right way is to crush it or, even better, cut it in fine sliced. This is because its main therapeutic virtues come from allicin, a component that is not in garlic, but is only released when alliin, a sulfur amino acid that contained in garlic, comes into contact with oxygen.



Allicin


Another of its characteristics is that allicin is very volatile and its effect is so immediate that in just seconds it reaches the lungs, and therefore it is considered appropriate to treat respiratory infections. It is even capable of passing through the skin and reaching the blood capillaries.


The sulfoxide components, including alliin, which are what provide it with its characteristic odor and flavor, enter the body through the digestive tract and, according to experts, have a powerful biological effect.


Another positive aspect of garlic is that it is very nutritious. About 28 grams contain 23% manganese, 17% vitamin B6, 15% vitamin C, 6% selenium and about 0.6 grams of fiber, plus considerable amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus and iron. And with hardly any calories, only 42, plus 1.8 grams of protein and 9 of carbohydrates.


Antibiotic


Garlic's antibacterial activity is due to allicin and the French scientist Louis Pasteur is considered to be the first to attribute this property to it in 1858. More recently some studies claim that it can be effective against numerous gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and other types of bacteria such as salmonella and escherichia-coli. Garlic has also a positive effect on the microbial flora of dental plaque.


Antifungal


It seems that the extracts of that plant are able to reduce the need for oxygen of some organisms, which slows down their growth and inhibits the synthesis of lipids, proteins and nucleic acids.


Its extracts are used in certain places to control pests in agricultural areas because it is believed to be as effective as insecticides and much less harmful.


Antivirus


Its ability against viruses has been less studied, although in vitro research shows that it has some properties against influenza. It has not been 100% proven to be effective in preventing colds.


A study conducted over 12 months revealed, for example, that those who took a supplement of garlic had 63% fewer colds than those who had taken a placebo and also reduced the number of days of illness by 70%.


Cholesterol


Lowering cholesterol is one of the main reasons to consume garlic extracts in the United States. In the majority of studies that have resulted in cholesterol reduction, it was necessary to consume between half and one gram per day, but the decrease was by no means very significant, it affected the "bad" cholesterol somewhat, but not the "good" cholesterol.


It seems that it depends a lot on the dose and that the more garlic you eat, the more your cholesterol level decreases, but it has been found that it eventually stops working. And it is not very clear which format of garlic, whether in powder, extract, oil or tablets is the most effective.


Blood pressure


Apparently the sulfur contained in garlic stimulates the production and presence of nitric acid in the veins, which relaxes and improves its elasticity and allows a more fluid passage of blood. According to a study published by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, subjects who achieved a significant reduction in blood pressure had taken between 480 and 960 mg of garlic.


Some experts advise taking a clove or two on an empty stomach for a few days or weeks. Others increase the dose to no less than four cloves of garlic daily so that the result for a more significant result. But they warn that it should never be taken as a substitute for any drug in case of suffering from high blood pressure.


Antioxidant


In an article published in the Journal of Nutrition of the American Nutrition Society, garlic extracts contain antioxidants that prevent degenerative diseases. Although they explain that this is achieved with extracts of fresh garlic that have been aged for a period of not less than 20 months. The obtained substance has antioxidant properties due to the fact that very unstable molecules such as allicin have been modified to convert them into other stable ones.


So it can have palliative effects in ailments related to aging, such as dementia and Alzheimer's. Although also in this case, to notice its benefits you would have to eat considerable amounts.



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