Garlic is an essential ingredient that is used to cook plenty of recipes. But, apart from adding a touch of flavor to our meals, it has many benefits for our health.
What is Garlic
Garlic, also known as Allium Sativum, is a vegetable species with important medicinal properties for the immune and cardiovascular system.
Its medicinal properties are so powerful that people also refer to garlic as natural penicinillin
Garlic can improve the cardiovascular system, our physical, sexual and cognitive capacity, and our resistance against infections. In addition, it also has anti-aging properties.
Composition of Garlic
Garlic is an excellent source of micronutrients such as vitamin B6 and C. Moreover, it also has a great mineral content, including manganese, selenium, phosphorus, copper, calcium, iron and potassium.
- 65% is water
- 28% is carbohydrates (mainly fructans, a derivative of inulin)
- 2% is protein (mainly alliinase and glycoproteins 1.2 from free amino acids like arginine, cysteine, methionine…)
- 2.3% is organosulfur compounds (bioactive principles like: alliin, ajoene, g-glutamyl-S-allyl-mercapto-L-cysteine, S-methylcysteine Sulfoxide…)
- 1.5% is fiber
The selenium level in garlic is higher than in any other plant
Properties of Garlic
The active principle of garlic is allicin (rich in sulfur) and it also has an enzyme called alliinase. A garlic clover does not smell until we physically alter it (cutting, smashing, chewing…). Therefore, the allicin will not be present until this happens.
How to obtain allicin
The physical action and alliinase stimulates the breakdown of alliin, which allows the release of the alliin metabolite: allicin. Thus, allicin transforms into a variety of compounds that have sulfur and which are water-soluble.
In fact, these compounds are so volatile, that they emit hydrogen sulfur, part of the unmistakable smell and flavor of garlic
We suggest leaving garlic for 10 minutes after cutting or smashing it in order to activate the powerful properties of its compounds
What causes the smell of Garlic?
The process of cutting or smashing garlic causes the strong smell that comes from this ingredient.
The molecular change that happens due to the enzymatic action on alliin results in allicin. This is the sulfur compound that we can recognize through its smell.
The only way to get rid of the “scent” is excreting it though the normal bodily functions
What are the benefits of Garlic?
Garlic is an element that prevents and treats metabolic and cardiovascular diseases by improving the blood flow and reducing the risk of heart attack.
- Some of these diseases are atherosclerosis or the hardening of the arteries, which increases the risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke.
- Hyperlipidemia which is related to abnormal levels of triglycerides and cholesterol.
- Hypertension since it can regulate a high blood pressure, specially the systolic one. It produces a vasodilating effect that relaxes the blood vessels.
Garlic has anticoagulant properties that can be used to prevent clots that could increase the risk of heart attack. Therefore, it is a natural alternative to aspirin.
The Allium genus, specially garlic and onions and their bioactive sulfur compounds, can have effects on each stage of the formation of cancer. In fact, they are involved in many biological processes that change the risk of cancer or that slow down its growth.
Garlic is one of the best natural “medicines”
Garlic can improve the white cells ability to combat infections by stimulating other immune cells. Moreover, it has expectorant and decongestant effects on colds.
The antioxidant properties of garlic are particularly valuable when it comes to neutralizing the oxidative damage to the cells caused by the free radicals. Otherwise, it could result in the proliferation of certain diseases apart from accelerating the premature aging of the tissues. The sulfur compounds can be responsible for its high antioxidant effects.
The inflammation has a positive and negative effect on the body at the same time. On the one hand, it helps to respond to stress. However, if the inflammation is chronic, even if it is not serious, it can cause many diseases, premature aging, apart from worsening disorders like arthritis.
Garlic has natural antibiotic properties, to the point that is more powerful than penicillin. It is also used as an antiseptic for wounds.
The diallyl disulfide has a protective effect against bacteria.
Moreover, garlic contains a wide range of thiosulfinates like the allicin which are responsible for the anti-bacterial activity.
Acne is a disease of the skin, particularly of the face, which affects many young people and sometimes even adults. It consists of the accumulation of certain bacteria in the pores. They end up obstructed due to an excessive production of oil by the sebaceous glands (it is worsened with hormone changes, an inadequate hygiene, and/or a bad diet).
The allicin from garlic has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-septic properties that can destroy the bacteria that cause acne
Moreover, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, it can decrease the swelling, pain, and irritation as well as improving the nutrient transport to keep the skin healthy by improving the blood flow.
Improving the Digestion
The allicin promotes the secretion of gastric juices by stimulating the mucous membranes of the stomach.
It regulates the functioning of the stomach by activating the large intestine. Consequently, it helps to reduce the constipation and diarrhea
Digestive System Diseases
Bacteria and viruses cause infectious processes that trigger several diseases like gastric ulcers, ulcerous colitis, coronary disease, Kaposi sarcoma, and cervical cancer.
Garlic can treat or prevent some of these diseases
Helicobacter Pylori causes some stomach ulcers and garlic can kill this type of bacteria.
Remedy for “Athlete’s Foot”
Also known as tinea pedis, it is an infection caused by fungi that affects the skin of the foot.
It has been called like this because people tend to be infected in dressing rooms or gyms where the floor is wet.
The symptoms are scales and cracks between the fingers of the feet that are very itchy
The alopecia is a common autoimmune skin disease which causes hair loss in the scalp and sometimes in other areas of the body.
There are different treatments, but there is no cure yet
How can we eat Garlic?
We can eat garlic in many different ways: fresh / raw garlic, aged garlic, garlic oil, and boiled garlic.
Boiled garlic prevents the alliin from creating its metabolites which contain sulfur. Garlic oil, even though it is effective as a supplement, has a high level of toxicity.
If you are going to eat the garlic raw, you have to smash, cut, or chew it to ensure the highest production of allicin
Take One Garlic Clove Daily
One garlic clove daily with a meal is enough if we want to start experiencing the benefits of garlic for the organism.
It is advisable to avoid its consumption on an empty stomach in order to prevent gastrointestinal problems, as well as a bad breath
Regarding the latter, if we have difficulties to get rid of the smell, we can eat a little bit of parsley…
Hummus Recipes to eat Garlic
A simple, quick and nutritious recipe, suitable for a paleo and vegan diet, to enjoy garlic
- Half a kilo of cooked chickpeas
- 1 spoonful of olive oil
- 1 spoonful of Tahini
- 2 garlic cloves
- A little bit of lemon juice
- 1 pinch of sweet paprika
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
- Add blend all the ingredients with a blender until you get a homogeneous mass.
Garlic Nutritional Supplements
One of the greatest advantages of taking garlic supplements is that it does not leave any trace of its characteristic flavor nor smell in our mouth.
Most of us would like to get the beneficial qualities of garlic, but we do not want to taste that particular flavor.
We can enjoy all the great benefits of garlic in a comfortable format in tablets or capsules
Is Garlic safe?
It is safe, regardless of the way we choose to use it, either by eating some garlic cloves or by using supplementation.
However, some people may experience mild stomach discomfort.