Garlic belongs to the Allium class of vegetables. It is strongly related to onions, leeks, chives and shallots. A garlic head is divided into segments and each segment is called a clove. Garlic is rich in an active compound called allicin which is responsible for its smell.

Garlic is also rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, selenium, manganese, fibre and trace amounts of a range of other nutrients.

Did you know that garlic has strong medicinal and nutritional benefits? Let’s take a look..

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Here are 4 garlic nutritional benefits and 5 ways to eat more of it:

 1) Garlic boosts the immune system

Boosting your immune system  is one of garlic nutritional benefits. It can help fight sickness including the common cold.  A large 12 week study published in 2001 found that taking garlic supplement daily reduced the number of colds by 63% (1). Another study published in 2012 also found that a high dose of garlic extract reduced cold or flu symptoms by 61% (2). Garlic has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties.

 2) Garlic improves the blood pressure of those with high blood pressure

High blood pressure is one of the main causes of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart disease. Reducing high blood pressure is one of garlic nutritional benefits. A study published in 2005 found that supplementation with garlic reduced the blood pressure of patients with high blood pressure (3).

3) Garlic improves cholesterol levels

Improving cholesterol levels is one of garlic nutritional benefits. A meta-analysis published in 2013 found that in individuals with high cholesterol levels, garlic supplementation was effective in reducing total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by about10-15% (4).

4) Garlic is rich in antioxidants that protect against oxidative cell damage

Oxidative cell damage contributes to the ageing process. Protecting your body against cell damage is one of garlic nutritional benefits. A study found that garlic is rich in antioxidants that protects the body against oxidative damage (5). The allicin in garlic digests in your body and produces a compound that reacts with the dangerous free radicals that can cause cell damage.

garlic nutritional benefits_2

It is very easy to include garlic in your diet. Here are 5 ways to eat more of it:

1) Mince a few cloves of fresh garlic (or press with a garlic press) leave to stand for a while , mix with extra virgin oil + fresh lemon juice +  apple cider vinegar + a bit of Himalayan sea salt and use as your salad dressing.

2) Chop up a few cloves of garlic and leave to stand for a while, mix with other vegetables to make your smoothie (or juice with other vegetables to make your vegetable juice).

3) Mince a few cloves of garlic and leave to stand for a while and mix with grass-fed butter and add to slightly steamed vegetables.

4) Chop a few garlic cloves, leave to stand for a while and add to your stir-fry.

5) Chop a few cloves of garlic, leave to stand for a while and add to meat dishes, stews and other dishes.

The allicin in garlic only forms when garlic is crushed or compressed and left to stand for a while so for optimal benefits, use garlic fresh and crush it or compress with a spoon and leave to stand for a while before using it in your recipes.

If you are taking any blood thinning medications, it is important for you to talk to your doctor before you increase your garlic consumption.

References

1) Josling P (2001)  Preventing the common cold with a garlic supplement: a double-blind, placebo-controlled survey. Advances in Therapy , 18: 189-193.

2) Nantz M P, Rowe C A, Muller C E, Creasy R A, Stanika J M, Pervival S S (2012) Supplementation with aged garlic extract improves both NK and T cell function and reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled nutrition intervention. Clinical Nutrition, 31: 337- 344.

3) Dhawan V, Jain S (2005) Garlic supplementation prevents oxidative DNA damage in essential hypertension. Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, 275: 85-94

4) Ried K, Toben C, Fakler p (2013)  Effect of garlic on serum lipids: an updated meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews, 71: 282-299 . doi: 10.1111/nure.12012.Epub2013Mar7

5) Amagase H, Petesch B L, Matsuura H, Kasuga S, Itakura Y (2001) Intae of garlic and its bioactive components. The Journal of Nutrition, 131: 955S-62S.

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