Garlic is one of the oldest and most commonly used vegetables in worldwide cuisines. Garlic is known for its flavour, taste, and distinctively strong medicinal properties. This unique combination of properties in garlic has made it the most popular vegetable used in most cuisines and herbal supplements.
When and where was Garlic first discovered?
Most scholars and researchers believe that garlic has been used as a medicinal plant and food source for over 5000 years and was discovered in central Asia. However, there are few debates around the world about its discovery and origin, and scientists are carrying out biomedical studies to find the exact origin of garlic.
Are there any proven health benefits to Garlic?
It has been observed that the sulfur compounds present in garlic are responsible for its beneficial effects. The following listed benefits are proven health benefits of garlic:
1. Garlic can lower bad cholesterol and may lower the risk of heart disease.
Numerous studies were carried out to understand the effect of garlic on cholesterol. A study was carried out on subjects with high cholesterol and found that Garlic supplements can reduce Total Cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Multiple research studies have suggested that Allicin, a sulfur-based compound found in garlic, is responsible for the cholesterol-lowering effects. Thus, we can consider garlic as a potent herb or vegetable for reducing bad cholesterol or maintaining correct levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream and thereby protecting the heart from cholesterol-related conditions.
2. Garlic for Diabetes
Many research studies were carried out to know the effect of garlic on blood sugar levels, and fortunately, most studies proved that garlic can lower blood sugar levels either by enhancing beta-cells of the pancreas or by increasing the secretion of insulin from the islets of Langerhans. It has also been observed that Allicin, the compound present in garlic, can lower fasting blood sugar and maintain blood glucose levels.
3. Garlic for Weight loss
Every research study found different results with regard to weight loss. Some studies found that garlic can reduce waist circumference, while others found that it can reduce the body mass index (BMI). There were few studies that found that the anti-obesity effects of garlic are mediated through the down-regulation of acetyl-CoA carboxylase and fatty acid synthase, the enzymes that work in fat metabolism. A study published in 2016 found that garlic powder supplements appeared to help reduce body weight and fat in people.
Considering the positive evidence of garlic and garlic supplements in relation to weight loss, garlic can be used in weight loss treatments under the supervision of a health practitioner.
4. Garlic for a healthy pregnancy
Garlic has been found to have beneficial effects in pregnancy. A study showed eating garlic might reduce the risk of spontaneous preterm delivery. The researchers believed that this could be related to garlic’s antimicrobial and prebiotic properties. However, it is important to note that excess garlic, especially if it’s in supplement form, should be taken as per the health practitioner’s advice during pregnancy to avoid the risk of bleeding.
5. Garlic for a Sore throat.
A sore throat affects people of all ages, but it is more common among children, people with allergies, and those with a weak immune system. The natural oils present in garlic provide decongestant and expectorant effects that help to break down and expel the mucus that causes irritation in the throat. It has also been found that the active ingredient Allicin present in garlic kills a variety of viruses causing sore throats. Garlic supplements have been found to be more effective in treating sore throats at a faster rate due to the presence of the correct amount of allicin required to exhibit antiviral and antibacterial activity.
Is garlic an antibiotic?
Garlic has properties that are antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiprotozoal. It also has beneficial effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems.
The organosulfur compounds are naturally present in garlic and exhibit a range of antiviral and antibacterial properties, such as bactericidal, antibiofilm, antitoxin, and anti-quorum sensing activity, against a wide range of bacteria.
Therefore, garlic can act as a natural antibiotic to fight against various viruses and bacteria.
Garlic has many other benefits, like acting as an anti-inflammatory, helping with digestion, improving immunity, etc.
What is the nutritional value of garlic?
There are 4 calories in 1 clove of Garlic. Fat is 0.02 g, Carbohydrate is 0.99 g, and Protein is 0.19g
In which form should garlic be taken for its maximum benefits?
In 2020, researchers from one of the universities in Italy conducted an allicin bioavailability study to analyse how much allicin circulates in the bloodstream after consuming garlic in different forms. Of the 13 garlic supplements and nine garlic preparations (crushed, roasted, boiled, etc.), the supplement form overwhelmingly delivered the highest level of allicin into the bloodstream. Therefore, supplements in the form of capsules can be opted if a person wishes to treat a particular health condition.
How much garlic or garlic supplement is to be taken?
Most studies that examined the effectiveness of garlic in lowering cholesterol suggested doses of between 500 and 1,000 milligrammes (mg) per day, and raw garlic was generally recommended at one to two cloves per day. Garlic oil capsules are highly recommended for those who dislike or cannot tolerate the flavour, smell, or taste of garlic and thus cannot reap the full health benefits of allicin.
What are the side effects of eating raw garlic or taking supplements?
Common side effects (especially when eating raw garlic) on a daily basis for a long-term period include:
- unpleasant breath and body odour
- heartburn, burning in the mouth or throat
- nausea, vomiting, flatulence
While garlic consumption is safe for most people even in cooked form, taking garlic supplements in high quantities beyond the prescribed dosage may increase the risk of bleeding. This could be attributed to the presence of a sulphur compound known as ajoene. Ajoene normally inhibits platelet formation, which helps our body form clots to stop bleeding. Therefore, it is always better to consult a health practitioner before taking garlic supplements if you have any blood disorders.
Garlic is truly a protector against various health conditions when taken in the correct amounts. This natural vegetable wonder is famous worldwide for taste, flavour, and health benefits. Garlic can be a part of everyday cooking to enhance the preparation of a tasty meal or it can be taken as a supplement to target specific health conditions.