Garlic is a member of the Allium family of vegetables, closely related to chives, onions, and shallots. For centuries, garlic has been recognized for its medicinal properties, but the true extent of garlic’s health and wellness benefits have only been discovered more recently. Below are 10 reasons to include garlic as a part of your plant-based diet.
Studies have confirmed garlic’s effectiveness at relieving hypertension. A sulfur compound found in garlic called allicin— the source of its pungent odor— is the key player responsible for relaxing the pulmonary artery cells and thereby lowering blood pressure.
Inflammation is one of the main causes of disease and premature aging. Fortunately, the organosulfur compounds in garlic have powerful antioxidant properties that reduce inflammation throughout the body and strengthen the immune system to fight off disease.
Garlic has both antimicrobial and antibacterial properties that reduce the incidence of and shorten the duration of illness. Ingesting garlic may ease symptoms relating to the common cold and influenza in addition to a host of other bacterial and viral infections.
Making garlic a regular ingredient in your meals seems to offer protective factors against cancer by preventing cell damage and stimulating DNA repair. Garlic has been associated with lowered risk of breast, colon, esophageal, pancreatic, prostate, and stomach cancers.
In addition to lowering blood pressure, garlic delivers other cardio-protective advantages such as treating conditions like hyperlipidemia. Regular consumption or supplementation actually lowers the bad cholesterol in the blood that compromises heart health.
Those with insulin resistance or diabetes may benefit from upping their garlic intake. Studies have shown that garlic reduces blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity.
Antioxidant compounds found in garlic offer neuroprotective benefits to people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Regular consumption or supplementation of garlic may serve as an effective method for preventing or even reversing age-related cognitive decline.
Garlic is comprised of powerful antioxidants that fight oxidative stress. The compound allicin found in garlic breaks down into an acid that scavenges and traps free radical molecules that damage healthy DNA.
Garlic might also be useful in treating baldness. In conjunction with corticosteroid treatments, researchers found that applying a garlic gel to the scalp reversed hair loss caused by alopecia.
Heavy metals like mercury, lead, and aluminum cause long-term toxicity and damage to various bodily systems, and drastically compromise health. The sulfur compounds in garlic help protect bodily organs from heavy metal exposure and remove these toxic chemicals from the body.
Garlic can be taken as a supplement, but the best way to take advantage of its beneficial properties is by eating it in its natural form. Consume garlic raw whenever possible, or sauté it lightly.Garlic is an excellent flavor-booster for soups, pasta, soups, dips, veggies, and stir-fry. Add it to homemade dressings and sauces. It can even be used to make a healing tea during cold and flu season.
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