Garlic health benefits have long been revered. It was even worshiped in ancient Egypt. Claims that garlic is a natural remedy and can cure all from yeast infections to athlete’s foot, lower cholesterol and ward off a cold, have been around for centuries.
Garlic is rich in antioxidants and increases nitric oxide production. Antioxidants help to protect the body against damaging "free radicals" that can cause premature aging and cancer.
Now garlic doesn’t do much for your breath but it’s those same pungent sulphur compounds that are released when cloves are chewed, crushed or cut, that contain the magic ingredient thought to be responsible for garlic's therapeutic qualities.
Now recently published research suggests that garlic can actually relax arteries and thereby increase blood flow, reduce blood clots and prevent oxidative damage. This is good news for heart health benefits.
Clinical tests at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, showed that blood vessels exposed to crushed garlic juice showed a reduction in tension within the vessels by 72%. The reaction takes place in the cells of the blood vessel lining and causes them to dilate.
A recently published study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the risk of the volunteers catching a cold by 50%. The researchers also discovered that even when those taking the supplement did develop a cold they were more likely to make a speedier recovery than the non-garlic taking volunteers. In fact just one clove a day will top up your body's supplies of vitamins A, B and C, as well as a vast array of minerals including selenium, iodine, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium.
Garlic is extremely helpful to the body in as part of a natural detoxification program. Research has well validated the role of garlic extract (aged), powdered garlic, garlic oil and whole garlic in getting rid of toxins from our bodies and in protecting us from diseases partly caused by those toxins, including liver disease, kidney disease, cancer disease and lung cancer. Many natural health gurus recommend sulphur rich foods as part of a detox diet and garlic is one of them. Garlic’s detox health benefits include blood cleansing as well as anti-bacterial properties.
Before cooking with fresh garlic, let it stand for 15 minutes after crushing as this triggers the enzyme to boost the healthy components of the garlic and so increase the health benefits. Add to your recipes about five minutes before the end of cooking to get just enough heat to convert the allicin into medically active compounds.
There is no substitute for a healthy diet and regular exercise and garlic should be part of that lifestyle and not seen a stand alone cure-all.