There is no denying that most of us like how tasty and aromatic this ingredient becomes as a part of certain dishes (or on its own!), but did you know that there are more than one health benefits of garlic?
It turns out that this seemingly ‘innocent’ (yet noticeably pungent) vegetable has a lot more to offer us than its specific flavour – to our own benefit and overall wholesomeness.
So here are the most important ways in which garlic can keep you just as healthy and happy at the same time:
- Improves weight management – garlic is part of the Allium genus, which contains other similar vegetables like onion, leek, shallot, and chives. These veggies contain a substance called allicin, a sulphur compound that gives garlic its distinctive smell. One study argues that the allicin present in garlic promotes better nutrient processing and assimilation within the organism, therefore regulating body measurements by inhibiting weight retention and reducing lipid formations. As a result, regular garlic consumption – either in raw form or as a part of various dishes – could be used to both generate weight loss and help you maintain your ideal figure in the future.
- Boosts immunity – another major advantage is that garlic is packed to the brim with vitamins and minerals, while staying on the low side of the caloric scale. For example, a bulb of garlic (around 10 cloves) contains just 40 calories, at the same time being full of nutrients like fibre, vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, iron, calcium, and selenium. Research shows that such substances present in garlic help stimulate the body’s own immune functions by combating ‘rogue’ cellular activity (which can lead to the formation of various cancers, for instance) and increase interlenkin-2 activity (the protein molecule which regulates white blood cell reactions against various health threats).
- Reduces hypertension – we all know that the vast majority of modern cardiovascular issues are caused by incorrect eating habits and prolonged periods of stress, which take a negative toll on our bodies in the long run. Luckily, adding more garlic into your everyday diet can help prevent and better manage oxidative damage. The antioxidants present in garlic have been shown to reduce lipid adhesion to blood vessels, as well as diminish hypertension by reducing the presence of nitric oxide, a signalling molecule which acts as an otherwise potent vasodilator inside the organism.
- Grows healthier locks – you may not even notice it on a day-to-day basis, but your hair tells a great deal about your body’s state of wellness. Significant hair loss, brittleness, and lack of gloss are usually signals of an internal imbalance. Fortunately, research linked to garlic treatments has revealed that this household ingredient has the potential to diminish the effects of alopecia (hair loss) by accelerating hair growth and strength. The added advantage is that garlic consumption and/or topical application is free of the side effects other supplements and creams might have. Apply crushed garlic cloves or garlic oil topically a few times a week to boost hair health naturally.
- Provides antimicrobial screening – as previously mentioned, the allicin content of garlic brings numerous health benefits to the table, one of the most prominent being that of its antibacterial benefits. Allicin is known to engage in a series of antiseptic properties which include antifungal protection against pathogens such as Candida albicans (which causes yeast infections), Escherichia coli (responsible for stomach upset), and Giardia lamblia (the leading cause of giardiasis, manifested through abdominal pain, weight loss, bloody stools, etc.). Allicin is predominantly found in raw garlic (as opposed to its cooked variant), so be sure to include it in your salads, dressings, and other meals for enhanced protection against these ‘bad’ bacteria.
- Gets rid of mosquitoes – aside from being pesky and the cause of much itching and scratching during the summertime, mosquitoes are also notorious for the diseases they carry through their bites (anything from the Zika virus to malaria, for example). The good news is that garlic is a natural and highly effective mosquito repellent – all you have to do is eat it regularly and/ or create a homemade concoction out of either crushed garlic or garlic oil, beeswax, and petroleum jelly. Although the smell might be a bit off-putting at first, applying this on exposed areas of your skin will definitely keep annoying mosquitoes out of sight.
- Takes care of your skin – the major advantage garlic brings for skin health is its strong antioxidant effect. Studies indicate that garlic naturally contains a series of phenylpropanoids (amino acids found in plants) which act as an antioxidant barrier against aging, stress, and other forms of cell degradation. Moreover, garlic extract has been shown to help prevent, delay, and even reduce the formation of some types of skin cancers – yet another reason for you to stock up on this ingredient and use it whenever you get the chance!
- Enhances your stamina – one interesting aspect related to regular garlic consumption is that, according to research, it has been shown to increase testosterone production within the organism. Aside from its role in sexual development, this hormone is known to substantially contribute to protein synthesis, which subsequently influences resistance, stamina, and overall energy levels. The performance enhancing capacity of garlic supplementation – preferably raw or in the shape of concentrated oils – has been also linked to better exercising endurance and decreased fatigue after workouts.
- Helps combat cholesterol – cardiovascular diseases are becoming one of today’s fastest growing health issues, mostly due to bad dieting habits (in particular, fatty foods), lack of regular exercising, and stress. One natural way of combating these problems is through garlic supplementation, which studies have argued can lower ‘bad’ cholesterol readings and therefore boost heart and arterial wellness. This happens because the allicin content found in raw or semi-cooked garlic has a positive impact on acidic steroids and overall lipid metabolism (for instance, in the liver).
- Cures ear aches – otalgia or ear pain can be generated by anything from the growth of wisdom teeth to water blockages (after swimming or being under water), so quick and effective relief is more than necessary when such cases kick in. As a result, the anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties of garlic can be definitely employed to minimize the unwanted aftermath of ear pain episodes. Although a small portion of general forms of otitis, bacterial infections caused by various fungi can be prevented and managed either with garlic extract applied topically or through different types of garlic supplementation.
- Meliorates digestive functions – have you ever heard of that old wives’ tale saying you should eat 1-2 cloves of garlic on an empty stomach each morning to relieve digestive imbalances? Well, it turns out that there is more truth to this advice than you might think. Garlic is not only a great aromatic addition to any hearty meal, but it also helps protect your gastrointestinal system by acting as a strong antibacterial and antiparasitic against issues such as diarrhea, worms, and colitis. Garlic consumption has also been shown to regulate digestion by boosting the number of probiotic colonies (or the ‘good’ bacteria) that are present in your gut, which then translates into better nutrient assimilation and increased immunity.
- Helps manage diabetes – this affliction is nowadays as common as it is often difficult to manage, since it requires careful dieting and even medication on a day-to-day basis. Garlic can hence be a natural and handy way of combating the side effects of diabetes (which include glycemic fluctuations, pain in the extremities, sensitivity to cold temperatures, etc). For example, studies conducted on garlic supplementation have revealed that this ingredient significantly regulates blood sugar in the case of type 2 diabetes, this hypoglycemic property sometimes delaying the need for insulin treatments for patients (hence relying just on specific dietary regimes).
- Acts as an aphrodisiac – as counterintuitive as this might sound, garlic can indeed have a beneficial impact on your sex drive and libido. Research has shown that garlic supplementation ameliorates sexual dysfunctions like premature ejaculation in men, while both genders can benefit from garlic’s stamina enhancing and desire boosting effects. Tip: if you like eating raw garlic, but hate the aftertaste, then you can get rid of the ‘bad breath’ effect it leaves behind by chewing on some parsley immediately afterwards.
- Reduces acne – a spotty and irritated complexion can be the outcome of bad dietary habits, hormonal imbalances, pollution, etc. Consequently, use garlic in order to diminish the unsightly problem of pimples by consuming it regularly – for elevated nutrient absorption and therefore better skin coming from within – or by applying it to certain problem areas so as to reduce inflammation, get rid of unwanted bacteria, and promote faster healing due to garlic’s strong antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
- Lowers the risk of cancer – as one of the most challenging health threats of our times, cancer has become the focus point for both prevention and management via natural methods whenever possible. The potent antioxidant effects of garlic fall into this category, with science backing up the fact that regular garlic administration (raw, semi-cooked, as different supplements and extracts. etc.) can translate into a cancer-prevention system for the entire organism. Not to mention that the aforementioned allicin content found in garlic has been proven to diminish the formation of blood cloths and display significant antitumor activity when present in the body on a regular basis.
- Prevents the common cold – although a cure for the common cold has yet to be discovered, there are certainly ways in which you can protect yourself during the cold season. Warm clothes and proper hydration aside, consuming garlic regularly can aid in combating the common cold by boosting your immune functions, reducing your sensitivity to airborne bacteria, and increasing your overall energy levels (which usually tend to drop during such demanding times for your body). While eating garlic cannot 100% prevent you from getting sick, it can decrease the number of cold episodes you experience yearly.
- Diminishes eye discomfort – you wouldn’t really associate garlic with good eyesight, would you? Still, there are ways in which garlic improves your eye health and comfort levels. For instance, the small, yet potent quantities of selenium present in garlic have been argued to have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits for the human organism. In addition, experiments performed on typical ocular fungi revealed that garlic extracts can inhibit the formation of such ‘bad’ bacteria and therefore decrease the occurrence of eye infections through regular usage.
- Supports mental health – as unlikely as it might seem, garlic can be extremely useful in preventing, managing, and slowing down the adverse impact of various mental diseases like dementia and Parkinson’s, for example. Studies focused on the health benefits of garlic have concluded that this plant inhibits premature cell oxidation, which is more than vital for mental wellness. Since neurons cannot regenerate like other cell types from within the body, keeping them as free from degradation as possible is most likely the key towards achieving a better way of growing older while still staying focused and content at the same time – one or two cloves a garlic per day at a time.
There you have it! These are just a few of the ways in which garlic can contribute to your general wellness with almost no effort in sight!
Even so, what you should keep in mind before trying out these remedies and benefits – natural and generally safe as they might be – is that consulting with your doctor or personal physician beforehand (especially if you have a more serious medical history) can really make the difference between a successful journey towards better living and unnecessary complications (from interactions with drugs or previous conditions, let’s say).
Otherwise, there are only benefits that can be obtained from consuming garlic as often as possible. From a slimmer waist to maximized protection against inflammation, bacteria, and even cancer, you’ll never want to eat a garlic-less meal ever again!
Just be sure to remain in the limits of moderation and positivity to make garlic your next best thing for health and happiness!