15 Health Benefits of Adding Garlic to your Diet
Author: Heather Lancaster | April 19, 2017
In honor of National Garlic Day, I have been researching the major health benefits offered by garlic or allium vegetables (garlic, onions, leeks and chives). If you’re wondering how adding garlic to your diet could help you with your goals to look and feel better, you have come to the right place. Turns out, garlic is right up there with apple cider vinegar and turmeric when it comes to its health benefits… honestly, garlic might even be better for you than those two considering there’s a possibility it has been documented to prevent certain cancers now! I always knew garlic was good for you, but just how good for you it is even shocked me. For your eyes only, listed below are fifteen health benefits offered from adding garlic to your diet:
Combat Common Cold
Known for its immune-boosting properties, garlic has been great for helping prevent and cure those pesky illnesses like the common cold or flu. Known to react with those dangerous free radicals better than any other compound, the sulfuric acid produced from the digestion of allicin (one of garlic’s compounds) helps treat multiple drug resistant bacterial, viral and
Potent Medical Properties from Compound Allicin
Allicin, the major biologically active component of garlic, is responsible for all the antibacterial activity provided by this allium vegetable. I am talking about anti-blood coagulation, anti-microbial, antioxidant, lipid-lowering, anti-cancer and antihypertensive effects.
When you crush or chop a clove of garlic, the enzyme alliin converts into allicin. This conversion is what produces the heavy smell of garlic, which is used as a defense mechanism to protect the plant. In the body, this compound has the capability to restore suppressed antibody responses and create a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activities. All and all, allicin defends our bodies like it would the garlic plant.
Reduces Blood Pressure
The everyday flexibility of our blood vessels have been shown to improve with the daily intake of garlic. Chronic excessive inflammation also has been shown to decrease when garlic is ingested regularly as well.
Dr. Stephen Sinatra, America’s Top Integrative Cardiologist, breaks down how garlic reduces blood pressure in one of his articles:
"Clinical research has determined that garlic inhibits platelet aggregation (stickiness and clumping), which helps thin the blood much like aspirin or thrombolytic drugs do. In a double-blind research study, patients given garlic demonstrated thinner, more slippery blood when compared to matched controls. Garlic reduces blood pressure, and also reduces fibrinogen (a blood clotting component), preventing the formation of blood clots."
Nutritious Vitamins with Few Calories
One ounce of garlic contains 42 calories, 1.8 grams of protein and a total of 9 carbs. Within this small serving size, you’ll find numerous vitamins including: manganese, vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Selenium, Fiber (.6g), Calcium, Copper, Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron and Vitamin B1. The next time you forget your daily multi-vitamin when traveling, add some garlic to your breakfast omelette to gather those essential nutrients.
Contains Antioxidants that prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia & Parkinson’s
Studies reveal garlic slows the aging process down and protects our brains from disease. The University of Missouri focused research studies on a carbohydrate derivative in garlic known as FruArg, a nutrient that offers protective responses in the plant. The team examined how this nutrient had the ability to not just inhibit, but even possibly reverse brain cell damage caused by environmental stress (aging process, pollution, brain injury, alcoholism and smoking). Published in March of 2015, The Daily Mail posted an article on The University of Missouri’s study, walking us through their study to give us a better understanding of how garlic can prevent these common diseases.
Improves Cholesterol Levels
Garlic’s ability to reduce blood pressure definitely comes from those sulfur and allicin compounds I’ve mentioned already in this article. But what specifically helps this vegetable lower
By preventing clumped platelets (Pseudothrombocytopenia) and the formation of blood clots, garlic prevents you from becoming vulnerable to a heart attack or stroke. Garlic’s antihypertensive value relates to its ability to prevent the digestive system from turning fat into cholesterol, thus lowering cholesterol levels.
Improves Bone Health
According to the University of California, aged garlic can help improve bone density for those with atherosclerosis. After conducting an experiment on a group of sixty people, they found the half that took their garlic supplement versus the placebo, had elevated levels of CAC and BMD levels. They also noted less arterial calcification inside the heart.
Can Detoxify Heavy Metals in Body
The selenium found in garlic also helps detoxify the body, in fact it’s vital for liver function. Promoting tissue elasticity and enhancing circulation to the main organs, selenium is crucial for detoxification.
Athletic Performance can be Improved
Garlic contains prebiotic properties, promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Flushing all the bad bacteria out of our gut increases your energy levels, as our bodies don’t have to work as hard to digest consumed foods. Keeping the “machine well-oiled” as they say, garlic aids in blood circulation and a healthy heart, which combined with a clean digestive track, can make for some healthy organs and muscles.
Reduce Risk of Skin Cancer
Garlic can prevent cancer? What an amazing breakthrough! Apparently, the sulfur compounds contained in garlic decrease our risk of squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer) in our upper aerodigestive tract (UADT). That includes cancer formed in the mouth, esophagus, larynx and pharynx areas!
In 2008, The National Cancer Institute verified that “the protective effects from garlic may arise from its antibacterial properties or from its ability to block the formation of cancer-causing substances, halt the activation of cancer-causing substances, enhance DNA repair, reduce cell proliferation, or induce cell death.”
The sulfur compounds found in garlic balance the activity of several metabolizing enzymes that mobilize or detoxify carcinogens and constrain the formation of DNA adducts in several of our destination tissues. Basically, it’s helping our body to excrete those unwanted chemicals or enzymes and to stop the overproduction of cells….preventing cancer!
Reduce Risk of Gastric Cancer
Recent studies also suggest garlic can reduce your risk for gastric (stomach) cancer as well. Moving down past the Esophagus, the sulfur compounds in garlic also help prevent cancer in the stomach, gallbladder, liver, colons, small intestine, appendix, rectum and anus.
Same as for skin cancer prevention, there are agents in the sulfur compounds that have been studied to not only reach the upper digestive regions, but also reaching the lower stomach area as well. These agents help your body to read the cancerous cells correctly, excreting them from the body. Sulfur and Allyl derivatives also help your DNA not mutate into those cancerous cells, stopping overproduction of cells as well.
Decreased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Knowing garlic contains properties that can lower your cholesterol, it comes to no surprise that it also can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease!
The substance allicin is the ‘star of the show’ when it comes to blood and heart health benefits offered. This compound can enhance blood thinning, preventing any sort of blockage to the heart. That, mixed with its ability to reduce blood pressure and lower your cholesterol, gives you a great natural solution to avoiding those major issues.
Benefits your Thyroid
Those with thyroid issues most likely also have elevated cholesterol levels and triglycerides. More issues are commonly shared such as high blood pressure, diabetes and bacterial infections .As garlic aids in lowering or balancing those levels, it’s valuable towards managing your thyroid. It’s incredible to hear some of the success stories shared from how garlic has helped their thyroid conditions, check out this article to read one I enjoyed.
Reduces the Risk of Osteoarthritis
Other compounds found in garlic include oligosaccharides, arginine-rich proteins, selenium and flavonoids. Those compounds not only aid in the other health benefits provided by garlic, but also help reduce inflammation in the body.
Garlic contains anti-inflammatory components that can help prevent pain and inflammation in the joints affected by arthritis. These components constrain production of proinflammatory cytokines, interleukins and prostaglandins (major causes of inflammation). Consumed garlic can also restrain the oxidation of free radicals in the joints and oxidative stress, which prevents cartilage damage and any damage to the joints.
May Help you Live Longer
After reading this article, I hope you are as shocked and as uplifted as I was about how many health benefits come from garlic. The sulfur and allicin really are the two main compounds in garlic, along with all those vitamins and nutrients, that factor into keeping your body happy and healthy. If you combine preventing numerous types of cancer and increasing blood circulation for lower cholesterol and heart function, garlic can honestly help you live longer by keeping your body ...here we go again….a “well-oiled machine.”
Just how much garlic do you have to consume in order to reap these benefits though? The studies on garlic and its properties towards boosting our immune system and treating certain cancers indicate a full 18-20 grams of garlic consumed within a week. That’s 6 cloves of garlic you could mince and add to all your dishes for not only some extra flavor, but to help your body in at least fifteen different ways! Make sure to crush the clove before adding it to your dish, as this stimulates the release and formation of those healthy enzymes you are looking for.