Health Benefits of Garlic – Anti-Cancer, Anti-Infection, Detoxify, and More
By Mike Barrett
A common ingredient for sautéing, 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.
The Many Health Benefits of Garlic – Experience them Today
If you aren’t already a fan of garlic, you will likely load up your kitchen with the food after reading all it has to offer. Here are some of the health benefits of garlic:
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 Institute 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. Whilegarlic in a bag 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.
These are only some of the health benefits of garlic.
Other Health Benefits of Garlic
Toothache – Among many home remedies for toothache, the use of garlic has been passed down for years to treat this issue; the antibiotic compound called allicin is what give garlic this ability. When garlic is crushed, this compound is released, helping to slow bacterial activity upon application and ingestion. Try applying a crushed garlic clove or garlic powder to the area. It may burn, but the pain from the toothache could vanish within minutes, although it could take hours. Repeat this over a few days, and you all should be well.
Repel mosquitoes – Although not conclusive, there is a long history of using garlic to get rid of many insects. Garlic has a reputation for protecting people from mosquito bites, specifically.
Warts – Each night before bed, crush up a clove of garlic, rub it on the wart, and apply a bandage. Additionally, cover the wart with juice from garlic twice a day.
Earache – Mix some sesame oil with a garlic clove and warm the mixture up in a pan. Afterwards, use it as ear drops. It is recommended that you allow the mixture to sit in the ear for 10 minutes or longer.
Cough – Boiling cloves of garlic and drinking it like tea will not only make it easier to breathe, but it will also help to alleviate itchiness which could cause you to cough continuously. Check out other home remedies for cough here.
Stuffy nose or nasal congestion – Adding to garlic benefits, this spice is one ingredient in one of the most popular home remedies for nasal congestion: tomato tea. Tomato tea is by far the most effective method as reported by peers on Earthclinic. It’s hot and spicy, providing steam and pepper to clear your sinuses, as well as a wallop of vitamin C and a boost to the immune system. Combine the following ingredients in a food processor and heat over a stove until steaming.
1 cup tomato juice
1 tsp fresh garlic
½ tsp of hot sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of sea or celery salt
A Little Information on Cooking
It’s important that you’re preparing garlic the right way, as improper preparation and consumption could negate the positive effects. Oftentimes, home chefs will cook garlic immediately after crushing or chopping it, which is not allowing optimal time for enzyme reactions that boost the healthy compounds in garlic. Instead, crush the garlic at room temperature and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. In addition, never cook garlic at high heat — try consuming it raw or cooked lightly.
Raw garlic can be used to kill bacteria, but cooked garlic has more potency in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
If you are worried about garlic causing bad breathe, you can counter this by consuming garlic prepared as pills or capsules. If you want to experience the health benefits of garlic and stave off the odor a different way, consume garlic with parsley, as the herb counters garlic’s bad smell.
Lastly, much of the research on garlic as an antibiotic has involved fresh garlic extracts or powdered garlic products and not garlic in it’s whole food form. You will, however, experience garlic benefits simply from ingesting the powerful health food.
Garlic Benefits Summary – Garlic is Great for:
Boosting the immune system
Stuffy nose or nasal congestion