We all have a love/hate relationship with garlic. We love adding it to foods but the smell can really turn your nose, especially when it's coming from your date's mouth.
But garlic does some amazing things for the body and there's more than one reason it's worth keeping in the kitchen and adding to your daily supplement routine.
A Little About Garlic
Garlic is a perennial plant native to Asia, but now grown throughout the world. Garlic plants produce compound bulbs that may contain between four and 20 cloves of garlic. Garlic is consumed in many forms -- fresh, dried, powdered, oil, etc. -- and can be made into supplements of varying strengths as well.
There are many compounds within garlic that can have beneficial actions within the body. Allicin is one such compound that contributes to its healthful properties as well as the distinct smell of the garlic. Garlic is also naturally rich in sulfur, which is also beneficial for overall health.
Why You Should Choose Garlic
Here are 10 of the best reasons to get more garlic into your life:
1. Heart Support -- Garlic can help protect the heart in a number of ways, thanks to antioxidants and it's support of healthy arteries and blood pressure (we'll get to those more in a minute). These benefits can reduce your risk for developing heart disease or suffering a heart attack or stroke. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and conducted at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston found aged garlic extract (AGE), also known as Kyolic, may help prevent heart disease by lowering homocysteine levels, lowering blood pressure, improving circulation and more.
2. Flavor -- Garlic is a great way to add a lot of flavor to a dish, allowing you to cut out less healthy additions, like salt or butter. Add some to a marinade, salad dressing or roasted vegetables for that delicious taste you love. You can even sprinkle garlic powder on popcorn.
3. Antioxidants -- Garlic is a great source of selenium, a trace mineral that acts as a powerful antioxidant within the body. Antioxidants prevent oxidative stress and damage caused by the free radicals we encounter on a daily basis.
4. Cancer Prevention -- Regular consumption of garlic has been shown to reduce the risk for developing certain cancers, in particular stomach, colon and rectal cancers. This is because garlic supports the immune system, which is the body's first line of defense against disease.
5. Infection Fighter -- Garlic has anti-fungal properties which can be beneficial in treating fungal infections such as athlete's foot or even ringworm. It can also improve healing time for the common cold.
6. Blood Pressure -- In published studies, garlic has been shown to lower blood pressure. Consuming garlic encourages the blood vessels to expand properly to allow blood to flow through properly, keeping blood pressure levels in check.
7. Tick/Mosquito Bites -- Maintaining a diet rich in garlic or even applying garlic topically is a natural way to prevent tick and mosquitos from making a meal out of you.
8. Atherosclerosis -- Hardening of the arteries can happen with age and prevents them from opening and closing as easily as they once did, which impacts blood flow. Garlic has been shown to reduce this hardening.
9. Tissue Health -- Garlic has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help fight skin conditions like acne or psoriasis to keep skin clear as well as speed healing of cold sores. It may also be beneficial for those suffering from hair loss.
10. Weight Management -- Garlic may be beneficial for weight loss. The anti-inflammatory properties within garlic may help you keep your weight at a healthy level, but an exact mechanism isn't yet known. A 12-week study involving 30 women who were postmenopausal and took a daily AGE supplement saw a reduction in body fat compared to a placebo group. Women who took the extract saw results both with and without exercise. The study was published in June 2012 in Nutrition Research and Practice.
More research is needed to determine the exact impact of garlic on the conditions mentioned above. At present, the only reported side effect of garlic (aside from bad breath) is mild digestive upset.
Garlic supplements are available in a wide variety of strengths and formulations. There are odorless versions available to prevent a garlic scent or garlic breath after consumption. Check with your physician before adding a garlic supplement to your routine if you're being treated for a medical condition, take other supplements or over-the-counter (OTC) medications regularly or are pregnant or nursing.
Check out our entire selection of garlic products at eVitamins and have a great weekend!