Health benefits of Garlic

Health benefits of Garlic

Since time immemorial, garlic has been recognized in almost all the cultures for its medicinal properties as well as culinary uses.

This wonderful herbal plant, grown for its underground root or bulb, contains health-promoting phytonutrients substances that have proven benefits against coronary artery diseases, infections and cancers.

This root herb plant belongs within the family of Alliaceae, in the genus, Allium; and scientifically known as Allium sativum. It is believed to be originating in the mountainous Central Asian region, from where it spread all over the temperate and subtropical regions the world.

Allium sativum is a perennial herb and is grown by methods similar to those used while growing onions. The fully-grown plant reaches about 50 to 60 cm in height and bears underground bulbous root containing about 8-20 bulblets known as cloves. The whole bulb itself is encased with several layers of white or mauve-tinged, papery-thin coverings.

Several cultivar varieties exist from extra-large elephant garlic to small-sized solo garlic. Allium oleraceum or field garlic is a wild, tall variety commonly grown in the United Kingdom.

Unlike in onion, garlic flowers are sterile and therefore do not produce seeds. New plants generally are grown from implanting the individual sections of the bulb.

Health benefits of Garlic

  • Strong flavored, garlic cloves contain many noteworthy phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that have proven health benefits. Total measured antioxidant strength (ORAC value) is 5346 µmol TE/100 g.

  • Its bulbs contain organic thio-sulfinite compounds such as diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide, and allyl propyl disulfide. Upon disruption of bulb (while crushing, cutting, etc.), these compounds convert into allicin through an enzymatic reaction.

  • Laboratory studies show that allicin reduces cholesterol production by inhibiting the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme within the liver cells.

  • Allicin decreases blood vessel stiffness through the facilitation of nitric oxide (NO) release. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels and thereby, brings a reduction in the total blood pressure. Further, it blocks platelet clot formation and has fibrinolytic action inside the blood vessels. This function of allicin helps decrease the overall risk from coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD), and stroke.

  • Research studies also suggest that consumption of garlic is associated with a possible decrease in the incidence of stomach cancer.

  • Allicin and other essential volatile compounds also found to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal activities.

  • Garlic is an excellent source of minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health.

  • The bulbs are one of the richest sources of potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and selenium. 

  • Selenium is a heart-healthy mineral and is an important cofactor for antioxidant enzymes within the body. 

  • Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. 

  • Iron is required for red blood cell formation.

  • It contains many flavonoid anti-oxidants like carotene beta, zeaxanthin, and vitamins like vitamin-C. Vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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