Garlic – packs a punch against disease

Garlic – packs a punch against disease

Picture credit: commons.wikimedia.org/ Jennifer Dickert

It is rather pungent but gives a wonderful flavour to our food. Whether it is garlic bread, in pasta, Chinese food or red garlic chutney on our very own masala dosa, it is quite popular.

Garlic is often vilified for the bad breath it leaves after consumption. However, it has excellent medicinal properties and regular consumption can give a health boost.

Over the centuries, several ancient cultures and civilisations have used garlic for its medicinal properties, including in Ayurveda.

Raw garlic is very low in calorie value and has sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, phosphorous, copper, several vitamins and dietary fibre.

An article published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (USA) says that garlic can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, has anti-tumour and anti-microbial properties and can also help in reducing high blood pressure.

The allicin produced when garlic is chopped is good for the skin because of its medicinal properties.

Without a doubt, garlic can be considered a superfood.

DH lists a few health benefits of garlic:

Can reduce blood pressure and risk of heart disease
According to the NCBI article, clinical studies have shown that garlic reduced blood pressure in more than 80 per cent of patients suffering from high blood pressure.

As high blood pressure is one of the major causes of cardiovascular disease, it could be beneficial.

Scientific studies also showed that garlic helps in the prevention of atherosclerosis (build-up of fat in the arteries that hinders blood flow) and reduction of cholesterol.

Can help in detoxification
Research has shown that garlic can protect liver cells from toxic agents, the NCBI states.

However, this detoxification is known to be mild and not in cases of, for example, heavy alcohol consumption.

Could relieve you of the common cold
Some research suggests that regular consumption of garlic might be helpful in preventing common colds. However, this is yet to be established by research.

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects
When garlic is chopped, allicin is produced and that is what gives it the strong smell.

Allicin is effective against inflammation. It also acts as an antioxidant. Allicin is also known to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.

Could help diabetic patients
The NCBI article states that experimental studies have demonstrated a clear hypoglycemic effect of garlic, the effect of garlic on human blood glucose is still controversial.

The effect of reduction in blood sugar levels is attributed to the presence of volatile sulphur compounds like alliin, allicin, diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide, diallyl sulfide, S-allyl cysteine, ajoene and allyl mercaptan.

Good for the stomach
Consuming garlic regularly is known to be effective in preventing stomach problems and even help in digestion.

How to consume garlic
One finely chopped clove of garlic with lukewarm water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning is known to give a health boost. It might be unpleasant to begin with, but one will get used to it over time.

There are several garlic soup recipes that can be tried. A simple one can be made by adding a bit of vegetable oil in a pan. Add finely chopped garlic and saute a bit. To this, add boiled vegetables of your choice. The most common are carrot, beans and cauliflower. Add water, salt to taste and finely ground pepper and let it boil for a few minutes. The soup is ready to serve.

Garlic is widely used across several cuisines around the world. So, consuming dishes that have garlic is another way of benefitting from it.

Note: The health benefits listed above are general guidelines and not substitutes for professional medical advice.