Garlic which has a botanical name called Allium sativum has great benefits and has been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. The organic compound that gives garlic its anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant properties is called allicin.
Cooking with garlic
For cooking, crush or cut the garlic finely, then leave for 10 minutes to allow the allicin to fully develop before adding to recipes. Add the garlic about five minutes before the end of cooking - this way you apply just enough heat to convert the allicin into medically active compounds.
1. Studies suggest that garlic has the ability to lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as offering protection against strokes and heart disease. Clinical studies have shown that people with high blood pressure who took garlic capsules daily for up to five months lowered their blood pressure levels as effectively as patients taking prescription blood pressure drugs. Ask your doctor about the dosage.
2. Studies show that garlic's antibacterial properties make it a wonderful treatment for coughs and other throat irritations. Garlic may also reduce the severity of upper respiratory tract infections.
3. Scientists say it helps prevent the formation of blood clots. A review of recent clinical trials, published in the Journal of Hypertension, showed that taking garlic tablets cut volunteers' blood pressure by between one and five per cent.
4. Reports also say that taking garlic supplements could cut the incidence of stroke by anything from 30-40 per cent, while heart disease could be reduced by 20-25 percent.
5. A regular amount of garlic seems to also help the body fight off infections.
6. Garlic is known to have antiviral properties, which helps the body fight against allergies. By taking one tablet of garlic supplement each day 2 or 3 weeks before the usual allergy season begins, the body will be prepared to fight against allergies.
7. Fighting off the common cold - A recently published study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the risk of some volunteers catching a cold by half.
8. A clove a day will top up your body's supplies of vitamins A, B and C, as well as a vast array of minerals including selenium, iodine, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium.
9. Some scientists have been reviewing evidence that suggests it may even help to protect against stomach cancer. The thinking behind this is that the allicin compounds, contained in garlic, may help prevent cancerous changes in the stomach wall.
10. Garlic is considered to regulate blood sugar levels by increasing the release of insulin in diabetics. Therefore an effective remedy is to take one capsule or tablet of garlic everyday.
11. While more research is clearly needed there is little doubt that a little garlic, every day, can go a long way in helping to protect, as well as boost, your health.
Side effects of Garlic.
People who are allergic to garlic or who consume it in large quantities may suffer from stomach irritation, heartburn, or flatulence, however, garlic appears to be safe during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Two studies have shown that babies prefer breast milk better from mothers who regularly eat garlic.
Note that due to garlic's anti-clotting and blood thinning properties, people taking anti-coagulant drugs or who are scheduled for surgery should check with their doctor before taking garlic supplements.
In conclusion, garlic supplements may interact with certain drugs such as anticoagulants. Garlic is most effective when crushed or chopped and when raw. Don’t take garlic instead of a healthy balanced diet. One clove a day will improve your health and 2-3 cloves will help prevent a cold. Don’t microwave garlic as this kills the active ingredients. When cooking garlic wait until the last 10 minutes of cooking to add the garlic. Be careful about taking too much as it can irritate your digestive system. Lastly, ask your doctor for advice on garlic and its dosage.
Researched and Written by Elizabeth SamCoffie
1. Bupa, ‘Common Cold’
2. iVillage UK, ‘The health benefits of garlic’
The health benefits of garlic | iVillage UK http://www.ivillage.co.uk/the-health-benefits- garlic/78921#ixzz203C43t2n
3. ScienceDaily, ‘Chemists Shed Light On Health Benefits Of Garlic’