Proven Health Benefits Of Garlic
“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Those are famous words from the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, often called the father of Western medicine. He actually used to prescribe garlic to treat a variety of medical conditions. Modern science has recently confirmed many of these beneficial health effects. Here are the health benefits of garlic that are supported by human research.
Health Benefits Of Garlic
Contains Compounds With Potent Medicinal Properties
Garlic is a plant in the Allium (onion) family.
It is closely related to onions, shallots and leeks. Each segment of a garlic bulb is called a clove. There are about 10–20 cloves in a single bulb, give or take.
Garlic grows in many parts of the world and is a popular ingredient in cooking due to its strong smell and delicious taste.
However, throughout ancient history, the main use of garlic was for its health and medicinal properties.
Its use was well documented by many major civilizations, including the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese.
Scientists now know that most of its health benefits are caused by sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed.
Perhaps the most famous of those is known as allicin. However, allicin is an unstable compound that is only briefly present in fresh garlic after it’s been cut or crushed.
Other compounds that may play a role in garlic’s health benefits include diallyl disulfide and s-allyl cysteine.
The sulfur compounds from garlic enter the body from the digestive tract and travel all over the body, where it exerts its potent biological effects.
Compounds in Garlic Can Reduce Blood Pressure
Cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes are the world’s biggest killers.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the most important drivers of these diseases.
Human studies have found garlic supplements to have a significant impact on reducing blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
In one study, 600–1,500 mg of aged garlic extract was just as effective as the drug Atenolol at reducing blood pressure over a 24-week period.
Supplement doses must be fairly high to have the desired effects. The amount needed is equivalent to about four cloves of garlic per day.
Reduce Lung cancer risk
People who ate raw garlic at least twice a week during the 7 year study period had a 44 percent lower risk of developing lung cancer, according to a study conducted at the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China.
The researchers, who published their study in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, carried out face-to-face interviews with 1,424 lung cancer patients and 4,543 healthy individuals. They were asked about their diet and lifestyle, including questions on smoking and how often they ate garlic.
The study authors wrote: “Protective association between intake of raw garlic and lung cancer has been observed with a dose-response pattern, suggesting that garlic may potentially serve as a chemo-preventive agent for lung cancer.”
Diallyl trisulfide, a component of garlic oil, helps protect the heart during cardiac surgery and after a heart attack, researchers at Emory University School of Medicine found. They also believe diallyl trisulfide could be used as a treatment for heart failure.
Hydrogen sulfide gas has been shown to protect the heart from damage.
However, it is a volatile compound and difficult to deliver as therapy.
Because of this, the scientists decided to focus on diallyl trisulfide, a garlic oil component, as a safer way to deliver the benefits of hydrogen sulfide to the heart.
In experiments using laboratory mice, the team found that, after a heart attack, the mice that had received diallyl sulfide had 61 percent less heart damage in the area at risk, compared with the untreated mice.
In another study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists found that garlic oil may help protect diabetes patients from cardiomyopathy.
Cardiomyopathy is the leading cause of death among diabetes patients. It is a chronic disease of the myocardium (heart muscle), which is abnormally thickened, enlarged, and/or stiffened.