Garlic has anti-cancer, anti-hypertensive, anti-microbial properties and the list keeps going. Do not miss these amazing health benefits due to your breath worrying you, simply eat garlic before bedtime.
The health benefits of garlic have been recognised for thousands of years by ancient civilisations. Ancient Egyptians used garlic to treat infectious diseases and to boost productivity. In Ancient Greece, garlic was believed to protect the skin against toxins and was also given to athletes at the Olympic games to increase performance.
In the last 40 years, scientific studies have shown that garlic has multiple health benefits, with the strongest evidence pointing out the importance of garlic in cardiovascular health. There is also good evidence pointing out that some of the active components in garlic may prevent cancer and bacterial infections.
Figure 1. Garlic is delicious, low in calories and has a vast range of biological benefits. From http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/life/article3313730.ece
Eating garlic not only wards off vampires but more importantly, cancer cells. The anti-cancer properties of garlic are likely due to its organosulfur constituents, such as allicin. Studies have shown that garlic consumption appears to reduce the incidence of breast, colon, stomach and colorectal cancers. The precise anti-cancer mechanism of garlic is not fully clear, but research has shown that organosulfur compounds modulate the activity of body enzymes involved in tumour prevention. Animal models have demonstrated that garlic increased the activity of gluthathione S-transferase, an enzyme involved in detoxification of free radicals. By boosting the activity of antioxidants such as glutathione, the body is more capable to get rid of free radicals, reducing cellular damage and tumour formation. It was also seen that garlic appeared to reduce the activity of a liver enzyme that is known to activate compounds that cause cancer.
Active compounds in garlic have been shown to inhibit an enzyme in the body known as cyclooxygenase (COX). This enzyme produces chemical signals such as thromboxane, which promote platelet aggregation. By reducing platelet aggregation, garlic reduces the chances of blood clots forming in narrow arteries. As a result, consuming garlic on a daily basis reduces the chances of suffering strokes and heart attacks.
High cholesterol levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies showed that garlic extracts reduce the capacity of liver enzymes to synthesise cholesterol. Garlic protects the heart by reducing the levels of cholesterol in your body. Clinical trials have shown that garlic consumption lowered blood pressure in hypertensive subjects, while it had no significant effect on those with normal blood pressure.
Figure 2. Choose garlic for a healthy heart!
Garlic has potent antimicrobial properties, in other words it is a natural antibiotic without harmful side effects. Many studies have shown that a constituent in garlic known as allicin, inhibits the growth of many bacterial strains as well as fungi and some viruses. With the problem we face at the moment with antibiotic resistance, studies of the anti-microbial compounds in garlic may help us design a better treatment to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria. Studies have shown that allicin has an effect when garlic is eaten raw, but when garlic is fried in oil, allicin is detroyed.
Figure 3. Many bacterial strains and other microorganisms (MOs) are susceptible to garlic in laboratory studies. Clinical trials are needed to confirm if an adequate consumption of garlic may help our immune systems to fight MOs better. From http://sprudgewire.com/thousands-of-bacterial-colonies-found-on-milwaukee-coffee-lids/
More studies are needed to investigate the effects of garlic consumption on various health conditions. So far most studies have pointed out many benefits of garlic consumption in animal models and human trials. Further research is needed in order to make recommendations on an adequate garlic quantity in the diet that provides a large biological benefit. My advice is to eat raw garlic at least 2 times per week in order to get all those healthy ‘smelly’ organosulfur compounds.
Bayan, L., Koulivand, P. H. & Gorji, A. (2014). Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, 4(1), 1–14.
Omar, S.H. & Al-Wabel, N.A. (2010). Organosulfur compounds and possible mechanisms of garlic in cancer. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, 18(1), 51-58.
Raman, P., Dewitt, D.L. & Nair, M.G. (2008). Lipid peroxidation and cyclooxygenase enzyme inhibitory activities of acidic aqueous extracts of some dietary supplements. Phytotherapy Research, 22(2), 204-12.