Healing Foods: Garlic

The many toxins and chemicals added to food today is an assault on our health, but luckily there is also a great variety of affordable and amazing foods available to us.

Garlic is a Superfood with many healing benefits, best known for protecting against vampires.

Garlic contains more than 400 chemical compounds, among those the substance allicin is responsible for most medicinal properties. Allicin is a sulphuric substance that is formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed, or chewed.

In folk medicine, garlic was a cure-all and it has been used for treatment of many illnesses since the beginning of recorded history in Greece, Egypt, China, India and Rome.

The four main causes of death worldwide are heart disease, stroke, cancer and infections. Garlic is linked to the prevention of all four in many of the 5500 peer reviewed  articles.

High blood pressure is a contributing factor to heart disease. Adenosine is a smooth muscle relaxant, found in garlic that helps lower blood pressure.

In a study, aged garlic extract at doses of 600-1500 mg was just as effective in reducing blood pressure, as the drug Atenelol. That is the equivalent of about 4 cloves of garlic daily.

Resting heart rate is directly linked to stress. Lowering blood pressure can reduce stress by lowering resting heart rate.

Another risk factor for heart disease is high cholesterol levels. Garlic can help lower the bad LDL cholesterol.

Atherosclerosis is the build up of plaque in the arteries, it is a predisposing factor for heart disease, or stroke. Garlic helps get rid of plaque. In a study of 55 patients aged 40-75, published in the Journal of Nutrition, it was found that garlic extract reduced plaque in the coronary arteries.

Garlic helps fight cancer. Quote from the National Cancer Institute website:

“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.”

In laboratory settings, garlic appears to kill leukemia cells and slow the growth of tumors. In addition to allicin, garlic also contains the cancer fighting antioxidant, quercetin.

Garlic helps combat the common cold and flu. In one study, that was done over 12 weeks during the cold season, the group that took garlic was less likely to get a cold and when they did, they also recovered faster, than those who took placebo.

Garlic is often recommended to treat gum infections, garlic paste can be applied topically to the gums. To prevent gum infections, chew on a piece of garlic and get the juice around the mouth, then spit it out.

Ironically, garlic can help prevent bad breath, by killing bacteria in the mouth.

Alzheimer’s is one of the most common brain conditions that affects the elderly.

Garlic contains antioxidants that may help prevent Alzheimer disease and dementia by protecting against cell damage. High doses of garlic supplements have been shown to increase antioxidant enzymes in the body.

Garlic can stimulate the production of glutathione, an amino acid, which is known to be  a potent antioxidant and detoxifier.

Due to the vasodilating effect of nitric oxide in garlic, it can help boost brain performance and wakefulness.

Garlic detoxifies from heavy metals. In a 4 week study among workers in a car battery plant who are exposed to excessive amounts of lead found that garlic reduced lead levels in the blood by 19%.

Eating garlic has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels and help diabetics as well as reduce the effects of certain complications of diabetes.

The compound allicin encourages the production of digestive enzymes that can also aid digestion.

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, garlic may improve skin and hair. In a study in Turkey, it was found that applying garlic gel to the scalp added to the effectiveness of treatment for hair loss. Topical application of garlic may provide relief from eczema and psoriasis.

Garlic may help improve athletic performance. It was the original “performance enhancing substance”, in ancient Greece it was given to Olympic athletes and laborers to increase strength and work capacity. That is due to garlic’s vasodilating effect. The increased blood flow delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, which can also reduce recovery time.

Garlic packs a punch. – 1 ounce contains:

Manganese 23% of the RDA,

Vitamin B6 16% of the RDA,

Vitamin C 15% of the RDA,

Selenium 6% of the RDA

Fiber 0.6 gram

The best way to take garlic is raw. That isn’t for everyone, as it is very spicy, the pungent aroma spreads through the body quickly and persists for hours in the mouth and your pores.

Adding it to your foods is the simplest way and many recipes include it. The good news is that, unlike most other vegetables, when garlic is cooked, it won’t lose its antioxidant properties.

It is recommended to let garlic sit for 10 minutes after chopping, or crushing it. This is when enzymes are activated in the garlic’s cells and allicin is produced.

Taking garlic oil, powder, extract, or supplements are other options. The recommended daily dose is 2 to 5 grams (about one clove) of fresh garlic, 0.4 to 1.2 grams of dried garlic powder, 2 to 5 mg. of garlic oil, 300 to 1000 mg. of garlic extract.

Gilroy, California is one of the largest producers of garlic. Driving along the 101 freeway in Central California, the pungent aroma is felt for miles.







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