Garlic has an impressive history
The ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, who lived around the year 350BC, and is often called the father of modern medicine, used to prescribe garlic to treat various medical conditions. He was way ahead of his time in the field of natural medicine, and it is he who coined the phrase: Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food.
The use of garlic was documented by all of the major ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese. Although widely used as a flavouring for food, throughout history it was chiefly used for its amazing medical benefits.
Garlic seems to have originated in central Asia and with time, spread to the Middle East, Northern Africa, and from there to Europe. Medical books from the 1660’s described it as, among other things, a cure for plague and smallpox, and in 1858 a well-known chemist proved that garlic could prevent the onset of wound infections.
Because of these initial findings, and further research, garlic was used as an antiseptic on wounds, and a cure for dysentery during both World War 1 and 2.
Today garlic is extensively used in cooking because of the strong smell, and for the delicious flavour it adds to food. Modern science has also confirmed many of the excellent health benefits.
Global production of garlic has reached about 20 million tons, with China being the largest producer and exporter in the world.
Some interesting facts about garlic
- According to Christian legend, when Satan left the Garden of Eden, garlic sprouted in his left footprint.
- At ancient Greek and Roman marriages, the bride carried a bouquet of garlic and other herbs, instead of flowers.
- It is estimated that approximately more than 300 varieties of garlic are grown across the world.
- Garlic is a member of the lily family, which includes onions and leeks.
- Attention citizens of Chicago! Your city is named after garlic –chicagaoua was the old Indian word for garlic.
- The psychological term for a fear of garlic is allium phobia. There are actually people who are afraid of garlic.
- April 19 is national garlic day, but the origin is unknown. Garlic lovers gather to eat various garlic dishes, which even includes desserts made from garlic. It is mandatory that everyone brings along a box of strong breath mints.
- 90% of the garlic grown in the US comes from California.
Nutrients found in garlic
- Garlic contains 17 different amino acids, which are essential for almost every bodily function. It is also full of antioxidants which help to counter dangerous free radicals which cause untold damage to the system.
- Minerals found in garlic include a treasure trove of iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium.
- Garlic is rich in vitamins C, B6, B1, A, E and K, which are all needed to promote optimum good health.
- Omega 3 and 6, the essential fatty acids supremely necessary in the body, are high content in garlic.
- Garlic also contains vegetable protein and dietary fiber which keep the colon healthy.
- There is no starch, no cholesterol, no sugar in garlic, and is very low in calories.
- It is also low in fat and low in sodium, which helps keep blood pressure in check.
- There trace amounts of various other nutrients and minerals in garlic, which all work together to promote good health.
Some of the major health benefits of garlic
Many of the health benefits of garlic have been confirmed by science due to ongoing research into this amazing plant. From the days of the ancient world, garlic was believed to have medicinal properties, and now there are scientific facts to prove it.
The main ingredient of garlic is a compound called ALLICIN, which has powerful healing properties, is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and is chiefly responsible for the health benefits, and the delightful aroma found in garlic.
Health benefits of garlic that are supported by research studies
The allicin in garlic lowers the risk of heart disease by promoting the release of a substance in the blood vessels, which keeps them relaxed and takes strain off the heart muscle.
Protect Against Stroke
The active compounds in garlic, such as allicin, may protect against heart attacks and strokes because of its ability to lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients. Studies have shown that in some cases, garlic supplements can be effectively used as a regular medication to keep blood pressure in check.
Lower LDL Cholesterol
The antioxidant properties play a part in lowering the LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood, and also help to destroy free radicals which travel around causing damage to body cells and organs.
Clear Up Acne
The anti-bacterial properties in garlic are able to help clear up both acne and herpes cold sores. To speed up the healing process, take some crushed garlic and hold it to the affected areas for a while.
Garlic supplements help to keep the immune system operating well and can reduce the symptoms of colds and flu.
Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Research has shown that damage to cells from free radical contributes to the aging process in general. The combined effects of the antioxidants in garlic which help to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and deal with free radicals, may help to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s and dementia in some people.
Ancient cultures used garlic to reduce fatigue and increase work performance of their laborers, such as those building the pyramids in Egypt. Modern studies now suggest that garlic may indeed help athletes recover quicker from fatigue caused by vigorous exercise.
Detoxify Metals in Body
Heavy metals from the environment lodge in the body tissues, and over exposure may cause problems like fatigue, headaches, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps along with diarrhea. Studies have shown that the sulphur compounds in garlic can help to detoxify heavy metals in the body and protect from toxic organ damage.
Liver-supporting foods such as onions and garlic may help to maintain estrogen levels in the body, and so help to improve bone health in females.
Improve Iron Metabolism
The sulphides in garlic can help improve the production of a protein known as ferroportin, which is iron-related and allows stored iron to leave the cells when needed. Garlic may therefore, help to improve your iron metabolism.
It has been established that garlic has major anti-inflammatory properties which can help ease painful arthritis, and reduce the swelling in joints.
Fight Colds and Infections
The anti-bacterial properties in garlic help to fight off chest infections, coughs, colds and lung congestion, especially in the winter months when cold and flu do the rounds.
Getting Rid of Parasites in Your Body
Garlic can clean your body as it has been known to get rid of worms, parasites, and fungus.
Studies have also shown that Garlic is effective as a preventative medicine against diabetes.
Reduces Stress Hormone
Proper digestion is aided by garlic consumption as the selenium properties help to lower stress, and promote the release of the digestive juices.
Garlic may help you to live longer. There is no recognized pattern to say why some people live longer than others, often with lifelong good health. However, in view of the fact that garlic is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, supports heart health and blood pressure, there is reason to believe that it could extend your life by helping you to stay healthy.
How to include garlic in your diet
Garlic tastes delicious, and it is easy to include it into your diet. It can be included in any savory dish, especially soups, stews, and sauces. You can basically use any class of garlic which comes in several forms, such as whole cloves, pastes, powders, and oils. All can be successfully added to your cooking without losing any of the health benefits.
However, it is important to note that if you use a garlic clove, it must be crushed before used in cooking to allow the active compound allicin to form, or you will lose some of the health benefits if it does not become active.
If for some reason you are unable to ingest raw garlic, there are natural supplements available which are easy to take, and just as beneficial for your health as another way to get garlic into your system.
Garlic side effects
Garlic is usually safe for most people if properly used. Listed are a few side effects that may occur, which could be worsened if you use raw garlic. None of the reported possible side effects are dangerous or life-threatening.
- When taken by mouth, garlic can cause bad breath and a burning sensation in the mouth.
- Garlic may affect sensitive digestive systems and cause heartburn, gas or nausea, and vomiting.
- Garlic may increase the risks of bleeding in those who take blood-thinning medication.
- People with allergies may have an allergic reaction such as asthma, when working with garlic.
- An allergy to garlic may also result in diarrhea, and cramps similar to symptoms of the irritable bowel syndrome.
Some delicious, easy-to-make, punchy recipe suggestions
- White bean rosemary soup with roasted garlic croutons
Begin with 2 full heads of caramelized garlic, add plenty of beans, veggies and homemade croutons, use whole wheat for extra fiber.
- Garlic, beef, carrot and broccoli stir fry
This Chinese food favorite is more delicious than the takeaway version. Cook meat and veggies stir fry style, with plenty of garlic, sesame oil, and green onions. Serve with rice and a green salad.
- Pan roasted chicken with lemon and garlic, with vegetables
Dress chicken, green beans, cauliflower and potatoes, or other veggies of your choice, with a mixture of garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Bake for one hour. Serve with rice or couscous.
- Quick lemon garlic fish and fries
Mix together parsley, lemon, garlic, olive oil, with salt and pepper to taste. Place the mixture in a shallow dish and soak the fish fillets for a few minutes before grilling. Get the fries done in time to serve with the fish. A Greek salad will also go down well.
- Savoury garlic and herb popcorn
Image credit to: A Traveling Wife
This is a healthy alternative to movie theatre popcorn which is often loaded with butter. Just add a little olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder and a sprinkle of salt to your home popcorn-maker for a truly delicious snack.
For hundreds of years garlic has been a favorite home remedy of countless folk all over the world. Manyhome remedies have come and gone, but garlic has endured for centuries as a cure for a myriad of ailments, now almost all supported by science.
It is amazing that cultures and civilisations that never ever came into contact with each other, reached the same conclusions about the role of garlic in the treatment of diseases.
We have only touched on some of the more notable benefits, as the list of health benefits is extremely long. Unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from eating garlic, when it is included in a healthy diet and lifestyle, the advantages to your health will be even more apparent.
Natural health practitioners universally agree that garlic has no peer when used a natural medicine to deal with many different ailments.
The best way to eat garlic is when it is raw and crushed. But remember that if you cannot handle the pungency of raw garlic, there are other just as effective ways to take it.
Whatever you do, don’t miss out on this fantastic herb and its natural potential for disease prevention and treatment.
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