Top 5 Health Benefits of Garlic
As if you need another reason to love garlic: it’s also good for you!
The world loves garlic. For thousands of years, this amazing superfood has been used by cultures around the world to stay healthy and combat everything from the common cold to heart disease. Only recently, has modern medicine begun to recognize and study the health benefits of the world’s most popular cooking ingredient: garlic!
Today, scientists believe the key to many of garlic’s potential health benefits lies in allicin, an oily chemical compound found in the garlic bulb. Allicin is also what gives garlic it’s pungent smell. When the garlic cloves are cut, the sulfur in the allicin is released, along with that familiar garlic smell. It’s thought that the release of allicin, a sulfur-containing compound, is an evolutionary trait meant to act as a deterrent to pests while the garlic bulb is underground.
Want to learn more about the health benefits of garlic? Take a look at this list of Top 5 Health Benefits of Garlic to learn more.
Rich in nutrients
A diet rich in nutrients is key to staying healthy. Of course, some foods contain more nutrients than others. Garlic packs a mighty punch when it comes to beneficial nutrients like vitamins and minerals. The next time you add garlic to your dinner, know that you’re getting a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals like vitamin B6 and C, and manganese, selenium, iron, copper and potassium.
It’s these rich nutrients that may contribute to garlic’s immune boosting qualities. Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, helps reduce the risk of heart disease, and other cardiovascular diseases, while minerals like iron and manganese promote energy and neurological function.
Garlic was used as far back as ancient Greece to boost immunity and ward off disease. Hippocrates, considered the Father of medicine, and for whom the Hippocratic Oath is named, used garlic as a cleansing agent, in addition to fighting other ailments.
Only recently, however, have these ancient medical theories been put to the test. Studies are currently underway to see if garlic does indeed boost immunity, as ancient societies were certain it did. Preliminary scientific studies indicate that raw garlic may be better at boosting immunity than cooked garlic.
Works as an anti-inflammatory:
Inflammatory issues like arthritis are a major concern for millions of people. To help relieve the pain associated with arthritis, The Arthritis Foundation, a nonprofit organization assisting those that live with this debilitating disease, recommends garlic as part of an anti-inflammatory diet.
The Foundation notes that garlic, “...contains diallyl disulfide, an anti-inflammatory compound that limits the effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Therefore, garlic can help fight inflammation and may even help prevent cartilage damage from arthritis.”
Lowers blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health
Nearly half of all Americans have high blood pressure. Persistent high blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease. Some studies have found that garlic may lower blood pressure, particularly in hypertensive patients. It is thought that garlic acts as an agent to reduce stiffness in the arteries to help lower blood pressure.
Aged garlic is a potent source of antioxidants
Antioxidants are believed to neutralize dangerous free radicals in our body and reduce the inflammation that can lead to diseases like heart disease, and some cancers. Incorporating foods into our diets that are rich in antioxidants may help reduce these risks.
Aged garlic, or black garlic, as it’s known, is garlic that has been fermented by heating whole bulbs under high temperature conditions over a period of several weeks. It is believed that this fermentation process causes black garlic to have a higher concentration of antioxidants than raw garlic.