Garlic is a spice that belongs to the onion family, and it’s closely related to onions, leeks, and shallots. It is a popular plant that grows in most parts of the world, and it’s widely known for its strong smell, which many people actually detest.
Although garlic has a number of nutritional benefits, for ages it has been more commonly used for its multiple health benefits. Most of these benefits are provided by allicin, a sulfur-forming compound formed when garlic is chopped crushed, or chewed. This compound gives garlic is characteristic strong smell, and when consumed, travels quickly round the body to exert its various beneficial biological effects, which we will explain in this post.
Now, what are the nutritional components of garlic?
Though it’s more widely used for its health benefits, garlic is incredibly nutritious. A one-ounce serving of garlic contains 15 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C, 17 percent of the RDA of vitamin B6, 23 percent of the RDA of manganese, 6 percent of the RDA of selenium, and 1 gram of dietary fiber. It also contains decent amounts of vitamin B1, copper calcium, potassium, iron, and phosphorus.
As for the major food groups, one-ounce of garlic contains 42 calories, 9 grams of carbs, and 1.8 grams of protein.
Health benefits of garlic
- Protects against bacterial and fungal infections
The innate compounds of garlic have strong antiviral and antibacterial effects, so they help to prevent infections by viruses and bacteria. Fresh garlic helps to prevent food poisoning by killing causative bacteria such as E.coli, Salmonella enteritidis, and so on.
- Keeps blood pressure levels in check
The allicin content of garlic blocks the activity of the substance angiotensin II, which is responsible for raising blood pressure. The end result of this blockage is a reduced blood pressure, which is a benefit to hypertensives. In addition, the polysulphide content of garlic helps to dilate the blood vessels, also leading to reduction in blood pressure.
- Protects the heart
With increasing age, the arteries in the body tend to lose their elasticity, leading to an increased risk of atherosclerosis and blockage by clots. However, taking garlic regularly can help maintain the elasticity of the body’s arteries and protect the heart from the damaging effects of free radicals. It also prevents the formation of clots inside blood vessels.
- Combats allergies
The allicin content of garlic makes it a good anti-inflammatory agent. This makes it helpful in the prevention and control of allergies and inflammation-related diseases, such as arthritis and rhinitis.
- Controls diabetes
Garlic enhances insulin production in the body, thereby improving the regulation of blood sugar levels. This is particularly beneficial to diabetics, who have problems with their blood sugar regulation mechanism.
- Prevents cancer
Garlic contains allyl sulphides, which are anti-cancer agents. One of these chemicals, diallyl suphide has been proven to inhibit the transformation of PhIP (a type of compound widely implicated in the increased incidence of breast cancer) cells into carcinogens (molecules that convert normal body cells into cancer cells).
- Has antioxidant properties
High doses of garlic have been found to enhance the production of antioxidant enzymes (such as catalase and superoxide dismutase) in humans. The result of this is effective arrest and neutralization of free radicals, which damage body cells and tissues.
Other health benefits of garlic are outlined below:
- Improves bone health
- Increases libido
- Prevents common cold
- Helps relieve pain
- Treats skin infections
- Strengthens the bones
- Boosts the immune system
Now you just found a lot more reasons to eat garlic more often. One common question, however, is “what’s the best way to eat garlic?” According to experts, eating it raw is best because heating it above 60 degrees Celsius destroys its allicin content and renders it almost therapeutically useless.