Is Garlic Good for You?

Priya Johnson Mar 12, 2019
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Is garlic good for your health? Behind all that nasty odor that garlic leaves in the mouth, are there health benefits that our bodies can tap from these odoriferous herbs? Let's have a look at some of the health benefits of garlic.
Garlic or Allium sativum, belongs to the onion family Alliaceae including leeks and shallots. Despite being infamous for its odoriferous attribute and named as the 'stinking rose', garlic has been popularly known for its medicinal qualities. Today, garlic is a widely recognized health enhancing supplement.
However, the health benefits of garlic can be traced all the way back to ancient Egyptian era, wherein, slaves building the pyramids were fed garlic to increase their stamina. Louis Pasteur, in 1858, documented that garlic destroys bacteria.
Moreover, how can we leave out the antiseptic benefits of garlic, which helped disinfect open wounds during World War II, when sulfur and penicillin drugs were in shortage. However, some religions do not favor garlic consumption because it's warm and stimulates the body, thereby increasing one's sexual desires.
Garlic is loaded with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which together provide a wide range of health benefits to our bodies. Let's have a look at some of them.

Is Garlic Good for Heart?

Research reveals that a clove of garlic a day keeps heart disease at bay. The cholesterol from the food we consume often adheres to the walls of the blood vessels in the form of plaque. This results in thickening of the blood vessels (atherosclerosis), which can lead to arterial blocks.
Research conducted at the Ohio State University reveals that people who consumed garlic supplements had 15% less arterial stiffness than others who avoided garlic.
Another recent study reveals that red blood cells in the blood process compounds from digested garlic and transform them into cell messengers; hydrogen sulfide (H2S). This helps relax blood vessels and increase blood flow.
Moreover, garlic also plays a crucial role in keeping blood vessels more supple. Increased suppleness of arteries prevents arterial spasms, which are mostly linked to heart attacks.

Is Garlic Good for Immune System?

Research reveals that the phytochemicals found in garlic have the ability to boost the body's immune system. The antioxidants called allicin in garlic help destroy free radicals that would otherwise destroy the cell membranes. Thus, garlic helps keep the body healthy.
Lau, a researcher at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine, has identified 3 ways by which garlic protects our body against cancer. Garlic helps by stopping the initiation and reproduction of cancer cells, thereby inhibiting tumor cell metabolism. Moreover, it also boosts the body's metabolism, thus, helping the body in fighting the cancerous cells.

Garlic and Weight Loss

Although garlic is not some magic ingredient that causes excess fat on the body to disappear, it does help slow down the body's production of fat by breaking down lipids and increasing the elimination of several other by-products.
Garlic also transfers lipids from tissue to the bloodstream for later removal. Thus, garlic cannot replace exercise and good eating habits, however, it does help weight loss in its own little way!

Is Garlic Good for Colds?

Garlic is also known to be a wonderful decongestant, expectorant and cold medication. The tiny cloves of garlic are loaded with vitamin C, B6 and minerals like manganese and selenium. These vitamins and minerals are associated with boosting of the immune system.
The sulfur compound in garlic teams up with vitamin C and harmful bacteria causing common colds. Thus, when flu or common cold hits people, they chop some cloves and eat them raw or after adding them to soups as a natural remedy to alleviate the cold.
Just because you read about the health benefits of garlic, do not go popping loads of garlic cloves into your mouth. Anything in excess spearheads side effects. Eating 2-4 grams of garlic everyday is fine, however, people taking garlic pills are more susceptible to be affected by a garlic overdose.
The side effects of taking garlic supplements in excess are fatigue, dizziness, loss of appetite, headaches and muscle aches. So let's maintain the balance and tap as much health benefits from garlic as we can.
To maximize the health benefits, wait for 15 minutes after crushing or dicing the garlic, before adding it to the dish. This triggers an enzyme reaction that boosts the healthy compounds in garlic.
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