Garlic is a potent herb with well known anti-inflammatory and anti microbial properties, and new research suggests that garlic is also a powerful antioxidant that can help lower high blood pressure and control diabetes, as well as protect against cancer.
Garlic Increases antioxidant Levels
Scientists from the University of Kuwait recently found that garlic reduced free radical damage, which is thought to lead to vascular disease in people with diabetes and high blood pressure . Researchers measured total serum antioxidants in diabetic and hypertensive rats before and after treatment with garlic.
After three weeks of treatment with garlic extract, the serum levels of antioxidants were significantly higher than the pre-treatment levels in both diabetic and hypertensive rats. There was also a decrease in serum glucose and lowered systolic blood pressure in the garlic-treated diabetic rats, showing that treatment with garlic can increase total antioxidant status.
Powerful cancer Blocker
A number of the new studies on garlic have found the beneficial effects it has on cancer. One study from the Republic of Korea investigated diallyl disulfide (DADS) as the most prevalent oil-soluble sulfur compound in garlic, and found that it inhibited cell proliferation in cancer cells .
Although diallyl disulfide (DAD) is not the most potent compound found in garlic, it has an advantage because it is the less volatile of the compounds. It does not degrade quickly and its health benefits survive cooking. However, the garlic needs to be chopped or crushed to produce these sulfides.
Another recent study, reported in the Mutation Research journal, revealed the action through which a derivative of garlic (diallyl sulfone) decreases genetic mutations and reduces the number of small and large papillary lung tumors .
Allicin is Garlic's Most Potent Compound
Allicin has both antibiotic and anti-fungal properties, and one study showed that garlic juice, even when diluted up to 1:128 of the original juice, demonstrated significant antibacterial activity against a spectrum of pathogens .
Garlic as a Beauty Aid
Garlic has a high sulfur content, which is beneficial for strong, supple and smooth skin, hair and nails. The sulfur also helps to keep youthful elasticity in tissues and helps prevent and treat dandruff.
Garlic is an excellent source of the mineral selenium. Selenium works with Vitamin E to boost antioxidant power and reduce signs of aging and hardening of tissues through oxidation. Selenium is also critical for the production of glutathione peroxidase, an important antioxidant that is found in every cell in the body.
Garlic is very versatile; it can be added to almost any savoury dish, and most of its benefits are not lost through cooking. Research carried out in 2007 found that crushing garlic released more of its beneficial compounds, and that although cooking it for 10 minutes completely suppressed its phytonutrient actions, lightly cooking garlic was no problem- except for microwaving, which almost entirely stripped garlic of its benefits .
The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim also mentioned many of the therapeutic benefits of garlic in his Prophetic medicine (see article Ibn al-Qayyim:Garlic Can Benefit cold Symptoms and Has a Variety of Therapeutical Uses).