April 19 was National Garlic Day and we just had to share with everyone the important benefits of this vegetable.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is widely used around the world for its pungent flavor as a seasoning or condiment. From history, it is known that garlic has been used for more than 7,000 years by humans. Originally the plant was native to central Asia, but it has long been used for consumption (raw or cooked) as seasoning in many other parts of the world such as the Mediterranean region, Africa, and Europe.
The composition of the bulbs is approximately 84.09% water, 13.38% organic matter, and 1.53% inorganic matter, while the leaves are 87.14% water, 11.27% organic matter, and 1.59% inorganic matter. The organic matter is mostly carbohydrates while the inorganic matter is compounds such as Sulphur and iron. The large number of sulfur compounds contributes to the smell and taste of garlic. Allicin has been found to be the compound most responsible for the “hot” sensation of raw garlic.
Let’s now go on to talk about nutritional value and health benefits of garlic
A. Nutritional Value
In the typical serving size of 1–3 cloves (3–9 g), garlic provides no significant nutritional value with the content of all essential nutrients below 10% of the Daily Value (DV), but when expressed per 100 grams, garlic contains several nutrients in rich amounts (> 20% DV), including vitamins B6 and C, and the dietary minerals, manganese and phosphorus.
Per 100 gram serving, garlic is also a good source (10–19% DV) of certain B vitamins including thiamine (Vitamin B1), and pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5), as well as certain dietary minerals including calcium, iron, and zinc.
B. Health Benefits
We all know garlic is commonly used to add flavor to many food dishes, but it has some impressive health benefits too. The key medicinal compound in garlic which is ALLICIN has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antioxidant properties.
In addition, garlic is packed with vitamins and nutrients. Some of these include vitamins B1, B6, C, as well as manganese calcium, copper, selenium and many others.
A little garlic every day can go a long way in helping you to protect, as well as boost, your health. To reap the most health benefits from garlic, eat it in its raw state. Cooked garlic loses a significant amount of its medicinal qualities.
Here are some health benefits of garlic
- Improves Heart Health
Garlic is an excellent super food for heart health. It helps improve blood circulation, lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. It helps slow the development of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries which increases the risk for a heart attack or stroke.
2. Controls Hypertension
Studies have shown that garlic also reduces high blood pressure, especially systolic blood pressure. Garlic acts as a vasodilator which helps to widen the blood vessels, making blood flow smoother.
3. Reduces Arthritis Pain
Garlic has been shown to reduce pain and other symptoms in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help reduce inflammation associated with various forms of arthritis. It also contains a compound called diallyl disulfide
4. Boosts Immunity
Garlic is a surprisingly good source of vitamins C, B6 and the minerals selenium and manganese, all of which boost the immune system. It also enhances mineral absorption.
Plus, garlic has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that strengthen the body’s defense mechanism and fight infections.
5. Treats Cough and Cold
Garlic offers antibiotic and antiviral benefits that make antibacterial properties make garlic a wonderful treatment for cough and cold. It may also reduce the severity of upper respiratory infections.
Plus, garlic is also highly beneficial in treating various respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. It also promotes expectoration (the act of coughing up and spitting out the material produced in the respiratory tract) with coughs.
6. Combats Allergies
Garlic has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that help the body fight different types of allergies. It also has been shown to reduce airway inflammation due to allergic inflammation and swelling of the mucous membrane of the nose.
7. Aids Digestion
Garlic regulates the functioning of the stomach to promote digestion. It stimulates the mucous membranes of the stomach to produce gastric juices that aid digestion. Garlic also triggers the liver to release toxins from the body, while at the same time protects the liver from harm.
However, garlic should not be taken in excess though, as it may irritate the digestive tract and cause heartburn.
As garlic is rich in so many nutrients with health benefits, it also can cause side effects when taken in excess such as bloating, flatulence, gas, upset stomach, bad breath and body odor.
It acts as a blood-thinner and may interfere with blood thinning medications and it may also block some antiretroviral drugs (HIV drugs.)
I hope we all enjoyed learning about the numerous health benefits of garlic. Kindly share with your family and friends as they could also learn as well.
Carlo Valente, Guillaume Aboua and Stefan S. Du Plessis; Garlic and Its Effects on Health, 2013.
Natural Blaze, Amazing Health Benefits of Garlic, 2013