How Garlic Protects Your Health
By Dr. Michelle Kmiec, Founder OHH
Let’s start with the amazing health benefits of garlic. Did you know that they include:
- Powerful Antioxidant
- Immune Boosting
- Lowers Cholesterol
- Reduces Blood Pressure
- Reduces risk of Blood Clots
Like onions, garlic contains organic sulfur compounds that make for its recognizable taste and odor. One of these components is the immune-stimulating compound Allicin which is released when the garlic bulb is chopped or crushed, and which has been reported to slow down the activity of some viruses and bacteria.
Studies have shown garlic to be effective in killing many strains of bacteria including E. coli, listeria, salmonella and staphylococcus. There is also research behind its ability to strengthen the immune system and protect against colds and flu and this is not surprising considering its key nutrients are Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Copper, Manganese, Selenium, Calcium.
Garlic has historically been used as a natural antibiotic. Louis Pasteur confirmed garlic’s antibacterial properties in the 1850’s, and during World War II garlic became known as the “Russian Penicillin” when the Russian Army ran out of penicillin and turned to garlic as an alternative. British and Russian armies would make a garlic paste and apply it topically to wounded soldiers to prevent infections.
There are also studies showing the positive effect garlic can have on cardiovascular disease. A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition noted that garlic was found to decrease LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol) while increasing the HDL cholesterol levels (the “good” cholesterol) thus lowering one’s risk for heart disease. Garlic is a blood thinner and may also reduce the risk of heart attack.
A 1994 study conducted by the University of Minnesota concluded that garlic stood out among other fruits and vegetables as a protectant against colorectal cancer. This study also found that women who consumed garlic along with fruits and vegetables on a regular basis over a five-year period lowered their risk of developing cancer by thirty-five percent. There are also recent studies showing that the organic sulfur compounds found in garlic may inhibit the growth of brain cancer cells.
Words Of Caution Regarding Pets!
The allicin compound found in garlic is actually a defense mechanism, meaning when the garlic plant is injured or attacked by pests it produces allicin, which is toxic to insects and microorganisms. According to the ASPCA, this compound, which is found in both onions and garlic, can also be toxic to some animals, specifically dogs and cats. So although garlic has many holistic benefits to humans, this is not the case when it comes to our pets.
Fun Tidbits about cooking with garlic:
- When cooking with garlic remember that the intensity of the flavor is related to whether you chop, mince, puree or slice the garlic bulb.
- For a bolder flavor, mince or puree, and for a more subtle aroma try adding slivers of garlic. Although raw garlic provides the greatest health benefits, garlic that has been chopped and sautéed, or even roasted, provides many therapeutic properties as well.
I have a wonderful recipe that you must try – Spicy Turmeric and Garlic Encrusted Chicken! This flavorful and highly nutritious dish is certainly a favorite in my home!