By Stephanie K. Taylor
Garlic, believe it or not, is a healthy remedy prescribed to treat a variety of health ailments, including, according to the National Cancer Institute, cancers of the stomach, colon, and pancreas, among other colorectal cancers.
“Protective effects from garlic may arise from its antibacterial properties or from its ability to block the formation of cancer-causing substances, halt the activation of cancer-causing substances, enhance DNA repair…” – National Cancer Institute
Garlic is a plant closely related to onions, shallots and leeks. The body of it is referred to as the “bulb” and the segments are “cloves.” A sulfur compound, called allicin, found in a clove of garlic provides most of its health benefits. It is also responsible for that strong smell when garlic is chopped, crushed or cooked.
The allicin in garlic travels through the bloodstream and enters the digestive tract. Garlic contains some important nutrients, including manganese, vitamin B, vitamin C, selenium and fiber. Not to mention, it provides all these vitamins with very few calories.
Garlic can help fight the common cold.
This small but mighty food boosts the immune system, shielding it from nasty little colds and viruses. A 12-week study showed a daily dose of garlic reduced the number of colds by 63 percent. The average amount of time a cold lasted was also reduced by 70 percent.
Garlic improves heart health
We could all use a healthier heart. Cardiovascular disease, and symptoms such as strokes and heart attack, are the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Studies have shown that garlic drastically reduces blood pressure in people with high blood pressure levels. Not only can you add more garlic to your diet to see these effects (about four cloves of garlic per day), but you can also take dietary supplements.
Garlic potentially helps fight the onset of dementia.
Oxidation, the chemical reaction that causes iron to rust, has a similar effect on the human body. The oxidation of proteins, nucleic acids and lipids plays a corrosive role in the body that increases aging. Garlic works to actively combat this process by supplying antioxidants that protect the body against oxidative damage. Think of garlic as the body’s protector from damage and the breakdown that happens over time.
Garlic can increase bone health in women.
The beneficial effects on bone health come from garlic’s ability to minimize bone loss by increasing estrogen in females. One study shows that a daily dose of garlic extract decreased estrogen deficiency. It was also shown to help combat osteoarthritis, or the breakdown of the joint cartilage and underlying bone.