Everything You Need to Know About Garlic
What is Garlic?
arlic is powerfully aromatic and intensely flavorful, making it a must-have ingredient to spice up a variety of dishes! But did you know garlic is a superfood that's been used throughout history for its health-boosting properties? It's packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
In this article, we explore the health benefits of taking a garlic supplement.
Garlic – Allium sativum – is a bulbous vegetable that grows underground and is closely related to onions, chives, and leeks. Also known as the “stinking rose", garlic has a pungent aroma due to its content of sulfur-rich compounds. It has been cultivated for thousands of years and used in cuisines across the world for its delicious, complex flavor.
Several ancient civilizations also used garlic for cultural practices and in traditional medicine. It was popular as a powerful natural antibiotic and tonic to treat infections, parasites, respiratory problems, and high blood pressure. Many of these medicinal properties have now been confirmed by science, and garlic supplements are available to help you get the benefits – minus the bad breath!
How Garlic Works
The potent health benefits associated with garlic are due to its rich source of the active sulfur-containing compounds alliin, allicin, diallyl-disulfide, and S-allyl-cysteine. The compounds are released when garlic is crushed and work synergistically to provide potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, blood-thinning, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties (1).
These compounds have been shown to inhibit the production of the pro-inflammatory chemical prostaglandin E2 as well as other inflammatory chemicals (2). Research has also found that ingesting garlic fights oxidative stress by increasing the activity of antioxidant enzymes in the body.
Unfortunately, the compounds released when fresh garlic is crushed are highly unstable and lose their potency when exposed to light and air. So, a garlic supplement provides a stable and concentrated form of active compounds so you can easily obtain the health benefits without having to worry about their potency!
Health Benefits of Garlic
Here are some of the health benefits you could experience from taking garlic capsules regularly.
Supports Heart Health
By soothing inflammation in the body and protecting your cells against oxidative damage, garlic extract may reduce your risk of chronic disease and provide powerful heart-protective properties. It may be one of the reasons the Mediterranean diet is great for the heart!
A 2013 study on adults with hypertension found that garlic capsules significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in a dose and duration-dependent manner (3). This is likely due to garlic's ability to influence the production of hydrogen sulfide, a gas that enhances nitric oxide levels and promotes blood vessel relaxation and expansion (4).
Another 2013 meta-analysis study found that garlic extract had a beneficial effect on total cholesterol, "bad" LDL cholesterol, and "healthy" HDL cholesterol levels in patients with dyslipidemia (5). The study also suggested that garlic was a safe alternative to conventional cholesterol-lowering drugs!
Garlic is a popular natural immune-booster, helping you to fight off infections thanks to its antimicrobial properties. In fact, in the 18th century, people reportedly ate crushed garlic and applied it topically to ward off the plague and treat skin wounds. While these stories are anecdotal, recent studies show garlic's active compounds may help reduce the frequency of the common cold and speed up your recovery.
A placebo-controlled study on healthy subjects found that taking 2.5g of aged garlic extract daily for 90 days resulted in (6):
- Improved function of immune cells such as T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells
- Reduced cold severity in those who fell ill
- A reduction in the number of cold symptoms reported
- 58% fewer days of school or work missed due to illness.
Promotes Healthy Detoxification
A rich source of sulfur, garlic promotes efficient detoxification. As with all allium vegetables, garlic donates the sulfur molecules necessary for the formation of enzymes involved in phase II liver detoxification. Garlic's antioxidant properties may also help to protect the liver from free radical damage.
This is promising because, nowadays, toxins from poor diet, alcohol, body care products, and environmental pollution are pervasive, causing the liver to become overwhelmed and sluggish.
Make Garlic Part of Your Daily Diet
Okay you knew it was coming... time for a shameless plug. Do you think the benefits of adding garlic to your daily diet could help? Create a personalized daily vitamin pack that includes garlic and any other vitamins, minerals or supplements you think could help. Start by adding garlic to your Kit here!