Garlic is an amazingly healthful and popular spice relative of onion, leek, chive and shallots. While a cooking favorite thanks to great taste, the health benefits of garlic have also been recognized and taken advantage of since the ancient times, showing countless individuals the compelling reasons to increase garlic consumption.
Boosting the Immune System, Anti-Infection
If history tells us anything about garlic, it is that the food has many well-known health benefits – the most popular being its anti-infection uses and overall power to boost the immune system. Garlic possess antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal properties allowing it to stand against all infections. Skin conditions caused by bacteria, virus, fungi or yeast can be treated by rubbing raw chopped garlic on the affected area.
Garlic has been studied not only for it’s ability to fight bacterial and viral infections, but also infection from other microbes including yeasts/fungi and worms. One particular substance found in garlic called ajoene has been used to help prevent infections with the yeast Candida albicans.
Other research has shown that crushed garlic can help prevent infection by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa in patients with burns.
And of course, garlic is great for boosting the immune system, containing high levels of vitamin C and being identified as a serious anti-cancer food. Because of its high potassium content, it can aid in absorption of essential nutrients, and help avoid digestive problems and fatigue as well. Garlic can also help in lung and throat problems due to its pungent smell. Since consuming garlic can irritate the digestive tract because of its pungent smell, a signal travels to the brain to release watery fluid in the lungs to counter the pungent property, thereby helping clear the lungs out of cough and colds.
Garlic is a Powerful Cancer Fighter
Adding more to the health benefits of garlic list, garlic’s role in the prevention of cancer is perhaps one of the most notorious. Scientists believe that the exceptional anti-cancer properties may have to do with the way that garlic boosts the production of something known as hydrogen sulfide. It is the hydrogen sulfide production that researchers believe to be why garlic is so effective at preventing a wide variety of cancer including, prostate, breast, and colon cancer.
From Cancer.gov’s National Cancer Intitute FactSheet:
“Several population studies show an association between increased intake of garlic and reduced risk of certain cancers, including cancers of the stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, and breast.”
One study out of the National Cancer Institute found that eating 10 grams (about two teaspoons) or more of garlic, onions or scallions each day could significantly reduce prostate cancer risk. But this isn’t the only type of cancer garlic can prevent.
Other research conducted at Case Western Reserve University indicated that garlic may help reduce the occurrence rate of pre-cancerous tumors (polyps) in the large intestine.
Further showcasing garlic as one of many cancer-fighting foods, several other population studies conducted in China also found that frequent consumption of garlic was associated with reduced risk of esophageal and stomach cancers. The risk seemed to drop as the amount of garlic consumed went up.
Garlic Fights Inflammation, Protecting Against Numerous Conditions.
Research shows that anti-inflammatory compounds in garlic can also benefit our musculoskeletal system and respiratory system. Two sulfur containing constituents in garlic, diallyl sulfide (DAS) and thiacremonone, have anti-arthritic properties. Garlic has also been shown to improve inflammatory conditions when referring to allergic airway inflammation.
Surprisingly, the sulfur-containing compounds in garlic may even help the inflammatory aspects of obesity. Fat cells cannot grow 100% unless they are able to move from a preliminary stage called “preadipocytes” to a stage called “adipocytes.” As you may have guessed, thanks to one of the sulfur compounds in garlic, garlic halts this progress. The sulfur compound is 1,2,-vinyldithiin, or 1,2-DT, and the impact of 1,2-DT appears to be inflammation-related. This is exciting because inflammation is being recognized more and more as being a part of obesity.
Garlic for Detoxification
Another one of the many health benefits of garlic, this food may also be used to detoxify – an extremely important method everyone should be doing to cleanse the body of toxins. While the benefits of garlic for liver health and beyond are many, one reason for its superior effects has to do with the fact that garlic contains numerous sulfur-containing compounds that are known to activate the liver enzymes responsible for expelling toxins from the body. Another lies in the presence of both allicin and selenium, two important nutrients that play an integral role in the protection of the liver from damage
It is also important to note that many cancers are thought to be caused by damage to DNA, which could be the result of exposure to environmental toxins. One study conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center found that eating a teaspoon of fresh garlic and a half cup of onions per day could remove toxins in the blood cells due to an increased production of a key toxin-removing enzyme.