Garlic has many health benefits besides its culinary advantages, in fact garlic has extremely powerful antibacterial properties. Here are some of the top benefits of garlic to your health.
Garlic has been grown and used since time immemorial. It belongs to the allium family together with chives, leeks and onions. It is known for its strong aroma which it gets from sulfur containing compounds. Garlic has many healthy benefits besides its culinary advantages. Here are some of the top benefits of garlic to your health.
1. Rich in minerals and vitamins
Garlic is a great source of vitamins and minerals which are necessary for optimum health. Garlic bulbs contain high amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium and zinc. Iron is needed during the formation of red blood cells. Manganese is an important co-factor for superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant enzyme. Selenium is important for heart health and is a vital component in many antioxidant enzymes in the body.
Garlic also contains several flavonoid antioxidants such as zeaxanthin, beta carotene and vitamins such as Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. Vitamin C helps the body scavenge pro-inflammatory free radicals and increases immunity.
2. A natural antibiotic
Garlic is a natural antibiotic. It has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Garlic can help control bacterial, viral, fungal and worm infections. There are numerous home remedies that involve garlic for different ailments including colds, coughs, congestion, earaches, flu, skin infections, toothaches and warts. Fresh garlic is thought to prevent food poisoning through killing bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella enteritidis
Garlic is a natural liver cleansing agent. It helps the liver to flush toxins from the body. Garlic is also excellent for clearing and maintaining a healthy stomach and lungs.
4. Cardiovascular health
Garlic plays a vital role in heart health. It helps thin blood to protect against and diminish clots, opens up blood vessels and allows better iron flow throughout the body. Garlic also protects the walls of various blood vessels. Studies have indicated that it may help lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Moreover, garlic acts as an anti-inflammatory agent for the heart and protects against free radicals. Garlic has also been shown to help reduce lower density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol in the body.
5. Cancer prevention
Garlic can help prevent different types of cancer. Breast cancer, bladder cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and stomach cancer tumors have reduced upon treating with garlic. Daily consumption of garlic has also been shown to reduce the risk of most of these cancers. The anti-cancer property of garlic is because of the presence of allyl sulphides and the primary active component allicin. The vitamin B6 in garlic also contains cancer fighting abilities.
When buying choose the firm and dry bulbs. After crushing or cutting, let the garlic sit for about 20 minutes to stimulate various enzymes and increase the concentration of compounds. This will ensure you get the most benefits from the bulbs. Do not cook garlic for too long or over too much heat; you will dramatically lower its potency. It is best to add the garlic to the cooking pan when the food is almost ready. Otherwise if you do not have a problem with a “garlic breath,” add it completely raw to your food. Maximum healthy benefits are derived when garlic is used this way.