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The Many Health Benefits of Garlic

Posted by SoundHealth on Monday, April 12, 2010
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Garlic is one of the most impressive and potent of natural foods, with its powerful antibiotic, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties, garlic is one food that you should be eating every day.

The sulfur-containing compounds that give garlic its distinct smell and flavor are responsible for many of its health benefits. One of these compounds is allicin, which is thought to be one of the most powerful antioxidants around. Researchers found that as allicin decomposes, it generates a potent antioxidant that rapidly reacts with dangerous free radicals in the body, faster than any other antioxidants.

Prevent cancer

Researchers have found that allicin is associated with fighting cancer. When alliinase and alliin (the two components that covert to allicin) were injected into a tumor cell, the reaction not only penetrated the cell but also killed it.

According to research, people who eat the most garlic and onions (a close family member to garlic) have increased protection against at least five forms of cancer, including esophageal, colon, breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. Nearly thirty studies have shown that garlic has some cancer-preventative effect, in particular for prostate and stomach cancers.

Reduce Risk of heart disease

Several studies suggest that garlic has many beneficial effects on the heart. It helps to induce the relaxation and enlargement of blood vessels, which improves blood flow throughout the body. This can help to prevent hypertension, a potentially deadly form of high blood pressure, as well as heart attack and stroke. Garlic has been found to:

Fights viral infections

Garlic works like an all-round antibiotic against bacteria and viruses in the body. Studies have found it is effective at killing antibiotic-resistance bacteria, including MRSA, but unlike antibiotics, no resistance can be built up to it so it is an absolutely safe product to use.

Reduces fungal infections

Garlic's anti-fungal properties are excellent for reducing fungal infections, such as yeast infections like athlete's foot. Laboratory studies have found that garlic inhibits the growth of candida within just one hour of ingesting. Candida is a yeast that lives in the gut and if left to grow can result in symptoms like thrush and irritable bowel syndrome.

Garlic Supplements versus Fresh garlic

Garlic, like many foods is better eaten as a whole, fresh food rather than taking a supplement.

This is because garlic must be crushed or chopped in order to stimulate the process that converts alliin into the beneficial allicin. Once the garlic is cut, the active compound in garlic loses potency rapidly and will virtually disappear within about an hour of chopping. Hence garlic supplements contain very little or no beneficial substances.

So the best way to eat garlic is to use it whole and fresh. Chop the garlic, smash it or press it, wait a few minutes for the reaction to occur, and then eat it. Powdered or dried garlic will not provide all the benefits that fresh garlic will.

References

Vaidya V, Ingold KU, Pratt DA.Garlic: Source of the Ultimate antioxidants - Sulfenic Acids. Angewandte Chemie Vol 48:1, P 157 - 160, 2008.

Galeone C, Pelucchi C, Levi F, et al. Onion and garlic use and human cancer. American Journal of Clinical nutrition, Vol. 84, No. 5, 1027-1032, November 2006.


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