Garlic: A Herb With Infinite Benefits
Since time immemorial, man has put to use the innumerable benefits of garlic. It is one of the oldest known herbs, mentioned in ancient Indian and Egyptian texts around 5000 years ago. Garlic, scientifically called Allium sativum is one of the most common ingredients found in almost every household all over the world and has been used a taste enhancer, preservative, antibacterial and antiviral properties besides many others. Most of us are still not aware of this divine herb and omit it owing to its strong and pungent odour.
Evidence suggests that daily consumption of garlic is associated with improved overall health due to the presence of many active medical constituents such as allicin, diallyl trisulﬁde (DATS), S-allyl cysteine (SAC), S-ally-mercapto cysteine, various enzymes, and amino acids. Listed below are the major benefits of garlic which will surely compel you to incorporate it in your daily diet.
1. Stabilizing Blood Pressure
Garlic is useful as a remedy and medicines as it is known to contain a host of bioactive sulphur compounds like allicin, diallyl disulfide and trisulfides and S-allyl cysteine which lower the blood pressure. Since sulphur deficiency is one of the main reasons behind hypertension, consuming a sumptuous dose of fresh raw garlic provides the sulfur compounds which help in reducing the blood pressure. Allicin is the reason behind garlic’s pungent odour and it increases the availability of nitric oxide, which in turn reduces plasma volume and vasoconstriction leading to stabilized blood pressure. It also increases the production of hydrogen disulfide which helps in the hyperpolarization of smooth muscle cells.
2. Lowers Bad LDL cholesterol and Cardiovascular Diseases
Garlic is known to reduce blood cholesterol level. It inhibits the production of bad LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and promotes the production and storage of only good HDL(high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Hence, garlic help in saving us from deadly cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, hypertension and heart attacks. It has been noticed that in order to obtain this benefit of garlic, it should be consumed regularly because limited consumption of garlic has an only temporary effect in lowering the low-density lipoproteins. Besides lowering the cholesterol, garlic also maintains the composition of blood and prevents platelet aggregation, thereby preventing a host of cardiovascular diseases.
3. Improves Bone Health
Poor bone health is an issue being faced by the majority of people above the age of 40 years. Postmenopausal women, especially suffer or have a high risk of weak bones and osteoporosis. This is mainly due to low levels of estrogen in blood after menopause. Garlic is known to increase the production of estrogen in women, thereby preventing bone generation and chances of osteoporosis. Besides, it contains bone-strengthening nutrients like manganese, zinc, Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. They not only prevent degeneration of bones but also increase calcium absorption and facilitate the growth of connective tissues and osteocytes.
4. Regulates Blood Sugar
Diabetes is one of the most notorious degenerative diseases today, affecting millions around the globe. With many natural remedies available for controlling blood sugar level, garlic is one of them which tops the list. Studies have proved that garlic significantly reduces blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes as well as maintains the normal glucose levels in normal people. With over 300 effective compounds present in garlic, the organosulfur compounds like allicin, diallyl disulfide and trisulfides and S-allyl cysteine instigate the secretion of insulin in the blood. They also tend to slow down the breakdown of glucose by the liver, thereby ultimately reducing blood glucose levels. Since heat destroys the organosulfur compounds, it is advised to consume raw garlic in order to imbibe this benefit.
There has been a lot of discussion regarding the anti-cancer properties of garlic and they have been proved effective against many cancers of the body. The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of garlic are the main cause behind the anti-cancer properties. The bioactive sulfur compounds like allicin, allyl sulfides and flavonoids contribute to the prevention of cancer in many ways. They prevent abnormal genetic mutations and maintain healthy genetic composition. Besides, they also check the formation and spread of cancerous cells and destroy any carcinogenic substance present in the body. Allyl sulfides prevent the damage to the DNA of healthy cells and increase the rate of cell and DNA repair in case of any damage. Flavonoids possess anti-inflammatory properties to ward off the risk of cancers by preventing and reducing internal inflammations of tissues and blood vessels. Garlic has been found useful against cancers of the stomach, pancreas, colon, prostate, breast and oesophagus.
6. Enhances Immunity and Treat Infections
Garlic increases the body’s response to any sort of infection as well as cancer. It enhances the immune system and increases the body’s ability to fight infections and viruses. The antioxidant properties devour the free radicals and flush out all the toxins of the body. The anti-bacterial sulfur compounds prevent the advent and spread of microorganisms and bacteria. Consumption of raw garlic (in order to keep intact the organosulfur compounds) increases the production and activity of immune cells like macrophages and helper T- cells. Apart from this, garlic has been used since ages to cure cough, cold and flu owing to its antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
7. Garlic has an impact on thrombosis
Thrombosis is a cardiovascular disease which can be treated by garlic. Thrombosis is a serious disease which is characterized by the formation of a blood clot in the blood vessels. This blood clot leads to the obstruction of the flow of blood through the circulatory system.
According to one of the studies, daily consumption of garlic for six months can result in an 80% decrease in the occurrence of thrombosis. Garlic increases the activation of plasminogen and inhibits the formation of thrombin. The anti-thrombotic effects of garlic are primarily due to the presence of compounds like allyl propyl disulfide, diallyl disulfide, and other sulfur compounds.
8. Garlic is an effective remedy for the prevention and treatment of one of the common mental health disorder, Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the problem of the brain which occurs when an abnormal material gets build up and tangles or twists fibres in the centre of the brain cells. It can also occur due to the build-up of plaque cells outside the brain cells. It is a serious disorder which affects the process of thinking, memorizing, and behavioural patterns. It affects almost each and every part of the brain. Research suggests that there are a number of underlying mechanisms that contribute to the build-up of plaque.
Garlic is considered to be highly effective in improving the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. It is expected to produce cumulative effects and also exhibit enhanced neuroprotection. Garlic contains multiple properties and active ingredients that help to improve almost every symptom. The anti-oxidant, anti-apoptotic, and memory enhancer properties of garlic help to treat Alzheimer’s disease.