Garlic has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. Egyptian hieroglyphics record that garlic was given to the workers who built the pyramids to keep them strong and healthy.
The list of health benefits just seems to grow and grow. From preventing heart disease and cancer to fighting off infections, researchers are finding encouraging results with garlic. Behind all the grandiose claims are the compounds that give garlic its biting flavor. The chief health-promoting "ingredients" are allicin and diallyl sulfide, sulfur-containing compounds. Although allicin is destroyed in cooking, other helpful compounds are formed by heat or aren't destroyed by it. This lets cooked garlic give you a health boost. Garlic also contains the powerful antioxidants C and E, and the mineral selenium.
Garlic has been found to lower levels of LDL cholesterol, the "bad" cholesterol, and raise HDL cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol in the short term. Its effects last about three months when taken daily. It may also help to dissolve clots that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Even when cooked, garlic helps keep cholesterol in your bloodstream from oxidizing and damaging the lining of your blood vessels, which helps prevent the formation of plaque.
Garlic has also been found to inhibit the growth of, or even kill, several kinds of bacteria, including Staphylococcus and Salmonella, as well as many fungi and yeast. Animal studies have found that garlic helps prevent colon, lung, and esophageal cancers. How much is enough? Researchers suggest you can enjoy the benefits of garlic every day by eating a typical clove weighing 3 grams.
Store garlic in a cool, dark, dry spot. If you don't use it regularly, check it occasionally to be sure it's usable. Garlic may last only a few weeks or a few months. If one or two cloves have gone bad, remove them, but don't nick remaining cloves; any skin punctures will hasten the demise of what's left. If garlic begins to sprout, it's still okay to use, but it may have a milder flavor, just remove the tough, green sprout.
In order to reap the benefits of garlic's healing compounds, cut or crush garlic, then let it sit in the air for about 10 minutes before using. Crushed garlic needs time to interact with oxygen to form the beneficial substances.
Just about any form of garlic offers dieters many benefits. If you enjoy the taste of garlic, use it liberally in your food. Garlic is great for your health.
Allicin: The Most Effective Component.
Garlic contains allicin, the cause of its pungency and an antibacterial agent due to its sulfur content. Allicin belongs to a group of compounds called thiosulphates and makes up 70 to 80 percent of the thiosulphates. However, allicin is not present in its natural state and it is only released only when it is crushed and is destroyed when cooked. Garlic also contains other sulfur antioxidants like germanium and selenium and Vitamins A, C and E.
Allicin and Weight Loss
A team of doctors at Israel's Tel Hashomer Hospital conducted controlled test on rats to find how garlic can prevent diabetes and heart attacks and found an interesting side effect. They noticed that none of the rats given allicin gained weight.
According to Medspice, garlic can effectively keep weight in control. First of all, garlic is an appetite suppressant. The strong odor of garlic stimulates the satiety center in the brain, thereby reducing feelings of hunger. Specifically, garlic reduces appetite by increasing the brain's sensitivity to leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells to regulate appetite. Garlic has another lethal weight loss arsenal--it stimulates the nervous system to release hormones like adrenalin, which in turn speed up metabolic rate. An increased metabolic rate means more ability to burn more fat calories. More calories burned means less weight gain--a happy correlation.
How to Eat Garlic
Scientists at the United States Department of Agriculture and in Argentina revealed that crushing garlic releases more of the healthy allicin. Add crushed garlic to salads, soups, dips, sauces and marinades to garner its health benefits. You can also use minced garlic to add flavor to meat dishes, stews and casseroles. Garlic gives pesto sauce gusto and spaghetti sauce a distinctive flavor.
Finally, garlic lovers may gain many health benefits but garlic breath can be off-putting. Getting rid of garlic breath requires chewing on fresh sprigs of parsley, mint, apple, or lemon and orange peels or fennel seeds.