Garlic has been long touted as an excellent healing herb with antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. It’s also a great immune booster. Scientists attribute its medicinal power to the sulfur compounds found in garlic, according to Healthline. Studies have shown that consuming garlic not only improves cardiovascular health, but it may also prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The Egyptians fed their slaves garlic to make them stronger and work harder when building the pyramids, says a leading report on the history and efficacy of the herb. Today, many healthcare experts advise eating garlic or taking aged garlic extract supplements to ward off colds, flu, and other diseases.
The health benefits of garlic include:
• Reduces cancer risk. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a study involving 41,000 women between the ages of 55 and 69 found that those who routinely ate garlic along with fruits and vegetables had a 35% lower colon cancer risk than those who did not eat garlic regularly. According to an article published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, “there is increasing evidence of anticancer activity of aged garlic extract against several cancer types in human studies.” Researchers also noted that in animal and laboratory studies aged garlic extract helped reduce tumors.
• Protects against the common cold. A study that followed men and women for 12 weeks during the cold season between November and February found that participants who took garlic were less prone to catching colds than those who took a placebo. According to Healthline, the daily garlic supplement group had 63% fewer colds and the length of the cold was reduced by 70% versus those who did not take garlic. The colds lasted 5 days in the placebo group and only 1.5 days in the garlic group.
• Relieves arthritis symptoms. The Arthritis Foundation recommends rubbing sore and inflamed joints or muscles with garlic oil, says the Cleveland Clinic. Garlic is a powerful anti-inflammatory.
• Boosts heart health. Research has shown that garlic has a beneficial effect on arteries and blood pressure. Scientists believe that red blood cells turn the sulfur in garlic into hydrogen sulfide gas that expands blood vessels, making it easier to regulate blood pressure.
• Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Australian researchers found that the antioxidant property of aged garlic extract helps preserve the integrity of the blood-brain barrier reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. “The major strength of garlic is in its unique cocktail mixture of a number of strong antioxidant compounds that are both water soluble and insoluble, compared to other pharmacological drugs or nutraceutical agents that contain just a single beneficial compound,” said Ryu Takechi, of Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, who has been researching the effect of aged garlic extract on cognitive function.
Dietitian Laura Jeffers tells the Cleveland Clinic that heating up garlic or adding it to a recipe can change its pH balance. Her advice is to let garlic sit for a few minutes after you mince, crush, or chop it to allow the enzymes from the allicin in garlic to start working.
“You’ll get the most benefit form raw garlic,” she says. “But if you choose to cook it, don’t heat it above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher temperatures kill the allicin, so add garlic to your recipes when you’re almost done cooking.”
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