12 Health Benefits Of Garlic & How To Include It In Your Diet

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Our ancestors swore by its many health benefits and now modern science is proving that garlic does indeed offer effective remedies for quite a few ailments. Here are 12 good reasons to make this medicinal herb a part of your daily diet.

Most Indian households are used to the pungent smell and distinct flavour of garlic in their food. However, not many are aware of its incredible health benefits. Did you know that during World War 1 garlic was used as an antiseptic to clean wounds? Hippocrates, the Greek physician recognised as ‘the father of western medicine’, is believed to have prescribed the herb for treating a wide range of conditions, such as indigestion, respiratory distress and chronic fatigue. Today, scientific research finds that garlic can actually improve blood circulation, help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer, among a host of other health advantages.

Garlic packs quite a powerful punch. In 100 grams of this medicinal herb, you will find about 150 calories, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 6.36 grams protein, 2.1 grams fibre and 0.5 grams fat. That’s not all, there’s also a dash of Vitamins (C, B1, B2, B3, B6), folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, sodium and zinc. As you would expect, this little wonder is great for your health. Let’s look at 12 benefits of munching on garlic:

1. Matters of the heart

Allicin, the sulphur-containing compound of garlic, prevents our blood vessels from getting blocked and thereby helps reduce the hardening of the arteries. As we age, the arteries tend to lose their ability to stretch and flex. Garlic is shown to help the arteries maintain their elasticity.

Studies have shown that regular garlic consumption thins the blood, which in turn helps prevent blood clots, heart attacks and stroke. Research has also found that diallyl trisulfide, a component of garlic oil, helps protect the heart during cardiac surgery and post heart attack.

2. BP in control

In China, garlic has been used as blood pressure (BP) medication for ages. In fact, research shows that garlic consumption can reduce BP by seven to eight per cent in hypertension (high BP) patients.

The activity of angiotensin II, the protein responsible for causing hypertension, is known to be blocked by allicin in garlic. Also, the polysulphides in garlic are converted into hydrogen sulphide by the red blood cells, thereby dilating the blood vessels and keeping the BP in check. Eating one pod of raw garlic on an empty stomach every day is believed to work wonders for one’s BP.

3. Cholesterol check

For those struggling to keep their cholesterol levels in control, garlic offers immense relief. Studies have shown how garlic supplementation can reduce cholesterol – total and LDL (“bad cholesterol”) – especially in those who have a history of high cholesterol. This is mainly due to the anti-oxidant properties of allicin, which also helps regulate blood sugar levels.

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4. Cancer shield

Quite a few studies have shown a strong correlation between daily consumption of garlic and reduced risk of certain cancers, including cancers of the stomach, colon, oesophagus, pancreas, prostate and breast. This is chiefly because of diallyl sulphide found in garlic, said to strengthen the body’s immunity against cancer.

Another interesting research shows that organosulphur compounds found in garlic are effective in combating glioblastomas, a type of deadly brain tumour.

5. Cold & cough cure

Modern medicine may not have found a cure for common cold yet, but our ancestors knew that boiling cloves of garlic and sipping it like tea makes the cold disappear in no time. Research has now proved that garlic can actually help prevent as well as reduce the severity of not just common cold, but also flu, throat irritations, upper respiratory tract infections and chronic bronchitis.

The next time you feel a bit under the weather, try adding some fresh garlic to that hot soup for instant relief. Regular intake of this white herb is believed to boost immunity against common infections.

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