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Health Benefits of Garlic

GARLIC

Garlic is probably the best researched and most commonly used herb in the world.  Native to Central Asia, garlic is now used in most every country’s ciusine. Mention of garlic can be found in the ancient medical tests of Egypt, India, China, Greece and Rome, some dating as far back as 5,000 years.  This world-renowned cure-all herb has been touted for everything from weight loss and infections to low energy, dysentery, snake bites and low libido (1).  A search through the research literature of todays yields over 4,000 citations on garlic, suggesting it is just as popular in modern times as it was in ancient times.

Much of the research on garlic has focused on the organosulfur compounds, or OSCs, found in the whole clove, which are responsible for its flavor and distinct smell.  While allicin is probably the best recognized of the OSCs, there are actually many different types of OSCs found in garlic.  Some of these compounds, like allicin are dependent of enzymes that are activated when garlic is crushed, chopped, or chewed.  Others, like those found in aged garlic supplements, are formed during the aging process or are formed as breakdown product of other OSCs (2).  These OSCs are believed to be responsible for the majority of the health benefits of garlic though polyphenolic compounds and prebiotic fibers in garlic may also contribute to its health benefits.

CARDIOVASCULAR BENEFITS

Probably the best researched and most celebrated benefit of garlic is its ability to benefit the cardiovascular system.  Indeed, garlic has long been used for conditions that affect the cardiovascular system.  Research studies show that garlic supplements are quite ueful for the treatment of uncontrolled  hypertension, lowering blood pressure by about 10 mmHg systolic and 8mmHg diastolic, similar to standard blood pressure medications. (3)  Mechanisms by which garlic reduces blood pressure include inhibiting the aggregation of platelets, thus keeping the blood flowing smoothly (4), relaxing the blood vessels, and even blocking production of hormones that cause blood pressure to increase (5).  Garlic may also benefit the cardiovascular system by reducing LDL cholesterol levels and modulating inflammation (6).

 

ANTIMICROBIAL and ANTIVIRAL

As far back as 1858, Louis Pasteur carried out experiments to confirm the historically recognized bacteria-fighting activity of garlic (7).  Today garlic is recognized for its ability to fight not only bacteria, but also fungi, viruses and parasites (8).  The OSCs in garlic appear especially beneficial for limiting the growth and even killing H. pylori, a microbe that commonly infects the stomach and causes ulcers (9).  Research into the effects of garlic on the immune system show that it can increase the responsiveness of several important antiviral immune cells such as Natural Killer cells and specialized gamma delta T cells (10).  Ultimately the increase in immune cell function has been related to fewer symptoms and reduced severity of cold flu as well as less time missed from work (11).  Beside fighting microbes directly, garlic may serve as a prebiotic, helping to strengthen the good bacteria so they are better able to fight off infectious agents in the first place (12).  Garlic also reduces the inflammatory compounds that certain microbes produce (13).

 

DETOXIFICATION

Although much more research is needed to fully understand this connection, the OSCs in garlic are believed to support the body’s detoxification processes.  First, OSCs  support the detoxification process, helping the body to neutralize and eliminate carcinogens and toxins.  Other studies indicate that garlic supplementation increases the liver’s levels of glutathione and other important antioxidant enzymes involved in detoxification processes.  Furthermore, because many toxic compounds are eliminated from the body through the process knows as sulfation, by providing extra sulfur, garlic helps provide substrate to facilitate elimination of harmful compounds by the liver (14,15).

BRAIN HEALTH

The OSCs found in garlic display remarkably utility, benefiting not only the health of the body but also the health of the brain.  Some of the most interesting benefits of OSCs include their ability to increase growth of new nervous system tissue, protect the brain from beta-amyloid plaque induced inflammation and damage, and strengthen the blood-brain barrier (16,17).  Studies in an effective intervention-preventing inflammation from causing brain dysfunction (18).  Other studies show garlic increases the brains natural antioxidant defenses, helps with neurotransmitter signaling, and OSCs act as antioxidants themselves (19).  Overall, there exists a solid body of preclinical evidence suggesting garlic supplements have a promising future as prophylactic treatments for the development of neurodedegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease (20,21).

OTHER BENEFITS

Several of the OSCs found in garlic have been investigated for their ability to modulate inflammation (22,23).  Many of these studies have focused on garlic-related anti-inflammatory effects in the  gastrointestinal tract.  These studies suggest garlic modulates inflammatory reactions to pharmaceuticals, toxins, and pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract, making it applicable to a large portion of the population (22).  References available upon request.

 

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All about Vitamin D

Vitamin D : fat-soluble vitamin, which is actually a hormone. It is the only vitamin that the body will produces on its own.

  • ergocalciferol-D2
  • cholecalciferol-D3
  • alfacalcidol

Some Facts

  • Helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus. This is vital for strong and healthy bones.
  • A fall in the concentration of calcium in the bloodstream is detected by the parathyroid glands, which then produce parathyroid hormone. Parathyroid hormone increases the activity of the enzyme (catalyst) that produces active vitamin D. This increase in the concentration of calcium together with vitamin D feeds back to the parathyroid glands to stop further parathyroid hormone release. The production of vitamin D is also directly regulated by calcium, phosphate and calcitriol.
  • Naturally occurring in some foods, added to others, and made by the body when UV lights hits the skin.
  • Must be activated by two produces in the body to be utilized. One is done in the liver, the second is done in the kidney. Very nutshell version.
  • Promotes calcium absorption in the gut
  • Helps prevent hypocalcemic tetany (involuntary contraction of muscles, leading to cramps and spasms)
  • Reduction of inflammation
  • Regulation of many processes such as cell growth, neuromuscular, immune function, and glucose metabolism

Huge Benefits

  • Reduces Depression: Research has shown that vitamin D can serve an important role in regulating mood and reducing depression and anxiety. In one study, scientists found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.
  • Helps facilitate weight loss

Some Sources

  • fatty fish (such as trout, sardines, salmon, tuna, and mackerel)
  • Beef liver, cheese, yogurt and egg yolks
  • Mushrooms provide variable amounts of vitamin D2
  • Fortified foods like milk

Vitamin D and Depression

  • Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with decreased cognitive function, specifically in the realm of mental health
  • Researchers behind a 2013 meta-analysis noticed that study participants with depression also had low vitamin D levels.
  • It’s also worth mentioning here that vitamin D is thought to be able to activate the synthesis of serotonin, a neurotransmitter and hormone that, similar to dopamine, can help to improve your mood.

Vitamin D and Hormones (sex)

  • Testosterone : Studies have found that an adequate level of vitamin D is actually pretty important for regulating this crucial sex hormone.

How Being Deficient Might Feel

  • Fatigue, aches and pains
  • A general sense of not feeling well
  • Severe bone or muscular pain or weakness
  • Stress fractures

Food*Micrograms
(mcg) per
serving
International
Units (IU)
per serving
Percent DV*
Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon34.01,360170
Trout (rainbow), farmed, cooked, 3 ounces16.264581
Salmon (sockeye), cooked, 3 ounces14.257071
Mushrooms, white, raw, sliced, exposed to UV light, ½ cup9.236646
Milk, 2% milkfat, vitamin D fortified, 1 cup2.912015
Soy, almond, and oat milks, vitamin D fortified, various brands, 1 cup2.5-3.6100-14413-18
Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, 1 serving2.08010
Sardines (Atlantic), canned in oil, drained, 2 sardines1.2466
Egg, 1 large, scrambled**1.1446
Liver, beef, braised, 3 ounces1.0425
Tuna fish (light), canned in water, drained, 3 ounces1.0405
Cheese, cheddar, 1 ounce0.3122
Mushrooms, portabella, raw, diced, ½ cup0.141
Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces0.141
Beef, ground, 90% lean, broiled, 3 ounces01.70

Optimal serum concentrations of 25(OH)D for bone and general health have not been established because they are likely to vary by stage of life, by race and ethnicity, and with each physiological measure used [1,13,14]. In addition, although 25(OH)D levels rise in response to increased vitamin D intake, the relationship is nonlinear [1]. The amount of increase varies, for example, by baseline serum levels and duration of supplementation. Resource: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

*Serum concentrations of 25(OH)D are reported in both nanomoles per liter (nmol/L) and nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). One nmol/L = 0.4 ng/mL, and 1 ng/mL = 2.5 nmol/L.

  • children and teens: 600 IU
  • adults up to age 70: 600 IU
  • adults over age 70: 800 IU
  • pregnant or breastfeeding women: 600 IU


nmol/L*ng/mL*Health status
<30<12Associated with vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to rickets in infants and children and osteomalacia in adults
30 to <5012 to <20Generally considered inadequate for bone and overall health in healthy individuals
≥50≥20Generally considered adequate for bone and overall health in healthy individuals
>125>50Linked to potential adverse effects, particularly at >150 nmol/L (>60 ng/mL)