Herbs and Spices Vegetables

Garlic – Medicinal uses and properties

As a close relative of onion, garlic or Allium sativum belongs to the botanical family Amaryllidaceae, and is used medicinally to fight cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension, low blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, and arteriosclerosis.

It can be very helpful in the prevention of various types of cancers, treatment of diabetes, and in fighting cough, asthma, fever, stomach ache, joint pain, diarrhea, gastritis, and hemorrhoids. The list of the health benefits of garlic is enormous. No wonder, it is being described as a “super food” by many people around the world.

What is Garlic?

Garlic’s close relatives are onions, leeks, and chives. It is said to be native to Central Asia and northeastern Iran, from where it spread to other parts of the world. Garlic has a long history of human consumption and use, spanning over several thousands of years. It is used all over the world as a spice to improve flavor, while many use it particularly as a medicine.

Anytime garlic is mentioned, then what comes to your mind must be that pungent smell it emits. Well, the pungent smell is as a result of certain sulfur-containing compounds in it. But be rest assured that its health benefits are just as powerful as it smell.

garlic-medicinal-uses

Properties of Garlic

Find below the nutritional composition of honey per 100 grams (USDA) – A quick overview:

  • Energy: 149 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 33.06 g
  • Dietary fiber: 2.1 g
  • Fat: 0.5 g
  • Protein: 6.36 g
  • Vitamin B6: 1.235 mg
  • Vitamin C: 31.2 mg
  • Thiamine: 0.2 mg
  • Calcium: 181 mg
  • Manganese: 1.672 mg
  • Phosphorus: 153 mg
  • Iron: 1.7 mg
  • Water: 59 g

A raw garlic contains about 59% water, 33% carbohydrates, 6% protein, 2% dietary fiber, and 0.5% fat. It is rich in vitamins such as vitamin c, thiamine, and vitamin B6. It also contains significant amounts of minerals such as calcium, manganese, phosphorus, and water.

Due to the concentration of garlic, it is usually eaten in small amounts, just about 1 to 3 cloves per serving (3-9 grams). In this kind of quantity, garlic provides little nutritional value as it contains less than 10% of the daily value of all essential nutrients. However, even at 1-3 cloves, it still contains significant non-nutritive components, which are responsible for most of its therapeutic applications.

Here’s a quick list of some benefits and medicinal uses of garlic:

  • Fights diabetes
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Fights caner
  • Relieves asthma
  • Controls hypertension
  • Fights cold
  • Improve brain function

Interestingly, most of the health uses of garlic are backed by scientific explanations. There are currently more than 5000 published researches that have evaluated garlic’s ability to heal and prevent various diseases. Most of these studies found an important compound in garlic, known as allicin to be responsible for most of its healing properties.

  • Fights Diabetes

This deadly disease must be prevented through regular physical activity and proper nutrition. Eating foods that cuts one’s chances of developing this disease should be everyone’s priority. You should note that about one third of people with diabetes don’t know they have this disease; reason why you should actively stay on alert to fight its development.

Garlic is one food that is good for fighting diabetes. There are several studies that have proven its anti-diabetic effect both in humans and laboratory animals. A research carried out in the University of Karachi, evaluated the effect of garlic tablets on blood sugar levels of patients with type 2 diabetes (1).

The results interestingly revealed a decrease in blood sugar level of patients treated with garlic tablets. The study showed how garlic can rival popular “Metformin” in reducing blood sugar level in type 2 diabetic patients. It also recommended this wonderful vegetable as a valuable addition in the management of diabetes.

Did I just call garlic a vegetable? Well, garlic is actually a bulb vegetable, but it is used mostly as a spice.

  • Lowers Cholesterol

While our bodies need cholesterol to function properly, having high levels can increase our risk of heart diseases. Cholesterol can clump in our blood vessels and restrict the flow of blood to parts of our body such as heart and brain. This can lead to serious conditions such as heart attack and stroke.

To prevent the occurrence of above disorders, you need to consume foods that can regulate your body’s cholesterol level, and prevent your LDL or bad cholesterol from getting out of range. Garlic is among such foods that can lower your cholesterol level.

A research published in the Journal of Nutrition confirmed this effect of garlic (2). In this research, garlic extracts reduced blood cholesterol in both humans and animals. The study showed how garlic contained hydrophilic and hydrophobic compounds that are able to inhibit cholesterol synthesis.

  • Fights Cancer

According to American Cancer Society, there will be an estimated 1,688,780 new cancer cases diagnosed and 600,920 cancer deaths in the US in 2017. These figures are damn scary. So, you need to do whatever you can to prevent the occurrence of this disease, since a large number of people are already at risk. And one way to achieve that is by eating nature’s healing foods that can fight cancer formation in your body.

Garlic is one of those foods. It is considered by many as one of nature’s best foods against cancer. Its anti-cancer effect has been attributed to the following properties:

  1. Garlic’s antibacterial property
  2. Its ability to halt the formation and activation of carcinogens (cancer causing substances)
  3. Its ability to reduce cell proliferation and induce cell death
  4. Its ability to enhance DNA repair.

You can read this research to learn more about the anti-cancer properties of garlic.

  • Relieves Asthma

Perhaps this might be due to garlic’s anti-inflammatory property. Since asthma is an inflammatory disease, garlic consumption to alleviate it makes some sense. To control asthma, OrganicFacts suggests a home remedy: “Take a glass of milk with 3 boiled cloves of garlic every night before going to bed”.

  • Control Hypertension

One out of every three adults in the United States have hypertension, which costs the nation more than $45 billion annually in health care and treatment options. Apart from reducing your risk of cardiovascular diseases, preventing hypertension also saves you some money, estimated at about a thousand dollar yearly.

Several researches have proved the effect of garlic in reducing blood pressure. One research which evaluated the effect of garlic capsules on 50 patients for 3 months, found it to cause significant decrease in blood pressure (3).

  • Fights Cold

This is a very popular therapeutic application of garlic, dating back to ancient days. It has great antibacterial and antiviral properties, which are important in relieving common cold and other infections. Of course there are scientific evidences to back up this claim.

To check the efficiency of garlic against common cold, 146 participants were used in a research (4). Half were given garlic tablets and the other half a placebo. The results revealed that the group who took garlic tablets had an overall cases of 24 common cold, while the group that took a placebo had 65, over the course of 3 months.

Other uses of garlic

  • Prevents Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • May improve bone health
  • Aids digestion
  • May prevent acne
  • Can increase libido
  • Can improve eye health
  • Can boost immunity
  • Fights plaque formation
  • Improves athletic performance

 

About the author

Abbati

Abbati studied Biological sciences at Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Zaria. He loves learning about the medicinal properties of foods, and the need to explore them!

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