For years, garlic has been used as a flavoring agent for variety of dishes. It is a simple ingredient which is packed with numerous health benefits.
Garlic (Allium Sativum) is a species in the onion genus Allium. The garlic bulb consists of approximately 84.09% water, 13.38% organic matter and 1.53% of inorganic matter. Crushed garlic yields allicin, an antifungal and antibiotic compound. It also affords the sulfur-containing compounds such as alliin, diallyl polysulfides, ajoene, S-allylcysteine and vinyldithiins. Some enzymes, proteins, minerals, B vitamins, saponins and flavonoids compounds are also produced from crushed garlic. Furthermore, allixin was found, a nonsulfur compound with antimicrobial, antioxidant, antitumor, and neurotrophic effects.
When the plant cells are damaged, the phytochemicals are produced, which are responsible for the sharp flavor of garlic. So, when a cell is broken by crushing, chewing, or chopping; enzymes stored in the cell trigger the breakdown of several sulfur containing compounds in the cell fluids.
Allicin is more responsible for “hot” sensation of raw garlic. The process of cooking removes allicin in garlic, thus mellowing its spiciness.
Health Benefits of Garlic
Let’s have a look at the major benefits of garlic and its derivatives.
#1. Garlic for Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is a complex and multifactorial disease which is characterized by multiple factors.
Elevated serum lipids (triglycerides and cholesterol), increased coagulation factors and plasma fibrinogen, increased platelet activation, smoking and alterations in glucose metabolism are some of the factors for cardiovascular disease.
The oxidative modification of LDL (bad cholesterol) by reactive oxygen species is also considered as an important mechanism in the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries).
Increased platelet activity in smokers, and patients with hyperlipidemia and hypertension also involved in the development of atherosclerosis.
Several research studies suggested that garlic has the ability to reduce parameters associated with cardiovascular disease.
Garlic and its various constituents inhibit the key enzymes (squalene monooxygenase and HMG-CoA) which involved in cholesterol biosynthesis. The S-allylcysteine in garlic is more efficient in inhibiting cholesterol synthesis
Ajoene and sodium 2-propenyl derivatives of garlic have been found to be responsible for cyclooxygenase activity in platelets thus helps in preventing platelet aggregation.
Garlic helps to enhance the fibrinolysis resulting in the dissolution of clots and thrombi. Aged garlic extract improves blood circulation by preventing lipid peroxidation and hemolysis in oxidized erythrocytes.
Γ-Glutamylcysteines in garlic shows their ability as angiotension-converting enzyme inhibitor, which helps to lower blood pressure.
#2. Garlic Effect on Cancer
Garlic derivatives help to reduce the risk of certain cancers such as stomach, colorectal, colon, esophagus, etc.
Allylsulfides from garlic inhibit gastrointestinal tract malignancies (cancerous cells) induced by the carcinogens, 1,2-dimethylhydrazine, benzopyrene, sparnins and N-nitroso compounds.
The allium derivatives may help to inhibit the enzyme cytochrome P4502E1, which activates a number of xenobiotic substances including carcinogens (substance that cause cancer) such as hydrazines, nitrosamines and halogenated hydrocarbons.
By inhibiting the activation of carcinogens, the allium derivatives may potentially render these agents less capable of initiating the carcinogenic process.
This process also may inhibit the formation of DNA adducts, which could be the start of carcinogenesis.
A meta-analysis study suggested that high intake of cooked and raw garlic benefits by protecting against colorectal and stomach cancers.
Another study has proved that Allixin in garlic showed an antitumor promoting effect by inhibiting the skin tumor formation.
#3. Antibacterial Effect of Garlic
The antibacterial effect of garlic has been reported to inhibit Escherichia, Bacillus, Enterobacter, Aeromonas, Aerobacter, Citobacter, Clostridium, Citrella, Lactobacillus etc.
Some pathogenic intestinal bacteria which are responsible for diarrhea in humans are more easily inhibited by garlic than the normal intestinal flora.
Garlic is effective even against organisms that have become resistant to antibiotic. Garlic extract along with antibiotics is more effective against some bacteria. A clinical study suggests that garlic oil with a dose of 0.5mg/kg showed good antituberculosis activity in guinea pigs
Thiosulfinates of garlic such as allicin, plays an important role in antibiotic activity and helps in the treatment of Helicobacter pylori which may leads to gastric cancer.
Medicinal Uses Of Garlic
S-allylcysteine and S-allylmercaptocysteine are the major unique organosulfur compounds of garlic extract, which have potent antioxidant activity.
Other antioxidant in garlic extract includes allixin, which inhibits the oxidative damage that is implicated to aging and a variety of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related degenerative conditions.
A study has been proven that benefits of eating garlic include treatment for endometriosis (a problem in women’s uterus) and is a highly powerful anti-inflammatory agent and stimulator for both male and female reproductive organs.
A research study in China concluded that diallyl disulfide derivative of garlic, may help protect against alcohol-induced liver injury which is caused by long-term over consumption of alcoholic beverages.
5. Skin Infections
A garlic derivative, ajoene helps to treat fungal skin infections such as ringworm and athlete’s foot (ringworm of the foot).
The anti-microbial activity of garlic helps in the protection against common cold and flu. So, if you are suffering with cold, sip a garlic tea or put garlic oil in boiling water and inhale the steam.
The anti-bacterial activity of garlic helps in the treatment of acne problems. It is the best source of home remedy to help lessen the appearance of acne.
8. Gastric Health
The antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties of garlic derivatives help the gastro-intestinal health and may reduce the risk of stomach cancers.
9. Mosquito Repellent
The allyl methyl sulfide of garlic, acts as a mosquito repellent. A study in India suggested that people who applied garlic oil on their arms and legs weren’t bothered by those pesky buggers.
10. Ear Infection
Garlic capsules has the potency to kill the bacteria that causes ear infection. So, you can use garlic oil as ear drops to get rid of ear infection.
11. Hair Loss
Allicin, a sulfur compound of garlic effectively helps in the treatment of hair loss. You can massage with garlic oil on your scalp to stimulate hair growth.
Adding fresh or crushed garlic in your regular diet helps to filter out the residual toxins in the body.
The antiviral effect of garlic helps in the treatment of asthma. Take 8-10 cloves of garlic; boil them in half glass milk. Have this drink every night for a better morning.
The anti-inflammatory activity of garlic helps in the treatment of lung inflammation and also helps to cure the health conditions such as snoring. This is one of the significant benefits of garlic for men.
15. Iron Absorption
Diallyl sulfides in garlic may increase the production of ferroportion, a protein which helps in the iron absorption and release.
Garlic helps to control blood sugar levels. Long-term use of aged garlic extract lowers blood homocysteine levels and has been shown to prevent some complications of diabetes mellitus.
Garlic derivatives also show antiseptic properties. A clinical trial suggested that a mouthwash containing 2.5% fresh garlic shows good antimicrobial activity.
18. Thiamin Absorption
Garlic has been found to enhance thiamin (vitamin B1) absorption and therefore reduces the risk of developing the thiamine deficiency beriberi (a symptom due to vitamin B1 deficiency).
Hope now you got an idea about numerous health benefits of garlic. So, add garlic to your regular diet, enjoy the taste and get more benefits from it.
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