The garlic plant belongs to the Allium family and is closely related to onions, shallots, and leeks. It is a popular ingredient used in cooking due to its strong aroma and distinctive taste. Throughout ancient times, garlic was known for its healthy and medicinal properties and was regularly prescribed to treat different medical conditions.
Many famous civilizations, including the Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, and Chinese, have well-documented the use of garlic for medical purposes. Today, even modern science has recognized many of the health benefits of using crushed or chopped garlic. Here are some of them.
1. Contains Beneficial Sulfur Compounds:
Most of the health benefits of garlic come from the sulfur compounds, which get formed when garlic cloves are crushed, chopped, or chewed.
Sulfur compounds, including allicin, diallyl disulfide, and s-allyl cysteine, enter the body through the digestive tract and deploy their powerful biological effects all over. So, it helps to use chopped or crushed garlic in your diet.
2. Nutritious yet Low in Calories:
Garlic is very nutritious. One clove (approximately 3 grams) of raw garlic contains Manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Selenium, Fiber, and fair amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamin B1.
This quantity of garlic also contains 4.5 calories, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 0.2 grams of protein, and trace amounts of various other nutrients. In fact, chopped garlic has a little bit of almost everything the body needs.
3. Boosts the Immune System and Increases Longevity:
Garlic supplements are known to boost the immune system. It helps prevent and combat common illnesses, including flu and the common cold.
A research study found that a daily garlic supplement reduces the number of colds by 63 percent. The average length of cold symptoms also reduces from 5 days to just 1.5 days (70% reduction).
The fact that garlic can fight infectious diseases is also a key factor of longevity because these are common causes of death, especially in the elderly or people with dysfunctional immune systems. So, the beneficial effects of chopped or crushed garlic on common causes of chronic diseases could help you live longer.
4. Helps Reduce Blood Pressure:
Heart attacks and strokes, driven by high blood pressure, are the world’s biggest killers. Research studies indicate that the active compounds in garlic can significantly reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension.
In some cases, garlic supplements may be as effective as regular medications. However, supplement doses must be high enough (equivalent to about four chopped garlic cloves per day) to get the desired results.
5. Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease:
Garlic helps reduce cholesterol levels, which further may lower the risk of heart disease.
Particularly for those with high cholesterol, garlic supplements can reduce total and LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) by about 10–15 percent.
So, it is best for people with high cholesterol to include chopped or crushed garlic in diet.
6. Helps Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia:
Free radicals in the body cause cell damage and contribute to the aging process. Garlic contains antioxidants that support the body’s protective mechanism against cell damage and aging.
As a result, this may help in reducing the risk of common brain diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.
7. Helps Detoxify Body:
The sulfur compounds in garlic help protect against organ damage from heavy metal toxicity. So, eating high doses of garlic may help detoxify heavy metals in the body.
A research study found that garlic reduced lead levels in the blood and several clinical signs of toxicity, including headaches and blood pressure. So, start using crushed garlic in your cooking.
The Bottom Line
For thousands of years, people have been using garlic for its medicinal properties. Apart from its several health benefits, garlic is also used to enhance the taste of dishes. The distinct flavor of garlic can add a punch to otherwise bland dishes and complements most savory dishes, especially soups and sauces.
Garlic tastes delicious and can be easily included in your daily diet. The easiest way to use garlic is to mix crushed garlic or chopped garlic with olive oil and salt. This mixture can be used as a gourmet dressing to add more flavor to your meals.