Not just for warding off vampires and giving us (ahem) powerful breath, garlic has been used for generations as a medicine with the first recorded use dating back to the Ancient Egyptians. Fast forward into the 21st century and it’s still as popular as ever. Read on to discover the Top 5 Health Benefits of Garlic!
1. Lowers blood pressure
Studies have shown that garlic can help to decrease blood pressure in those that suffer from hypertension. This is due to allicin (an active compound present in it) being released when the clove is crushed, chopped or chewed which works by relaxing the blood vessels. Although it should be noted that a dose of at least 0.5ml/kg is needed to maintain this decrease for a sustainable period of time.
2. Immune system booster
Garlic has been commonly known to help boost the immune system, and it does this by increasing activity levels of macrophages (white blood cells that fight infections). Those who consume it regularly have reported suffering from colds less often and for a shorter duration compared to those who do not. Try adding to stews and casseroles in the winter and salad dressings or as a marinade for meats in the warmer months.
3. Improves exercise performance
Probably one of garlic’s lesser known benefits is its ability to improve exercise performance. It thins the blood which increases oxygen and nutrient supply to working muscle tissues. It has also been known to help build muscle when on a high protein diet. A study undertaken on rats (that were fed high protein diets) found that those who were given its supplements had higher levels of testosterone and muscle growth.
If like me you are a novice when it comes to preparing garlic or tend to opt for the lazy version of ready minced garlic, below is a ‘how to’ video on preparing it!
4. Helps prevent dementia
Many of the risk factors for heart disease also increase the risk of dementia. So, by increasing your intake of garlic you’ll also be protecting your brain. Recent research shows that inflammation and oxidative stress can lead to dementia. The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties present in garlic help to reduce the effect this has on our brains.
5. Known to help protect against cancer
Being high in antioxidants means that garlic can help protect against cancer. When free radicals are formed they have the potential to harm our cells including the causing cancer. Antioxidants work by neutralising these and reducing the risk of them developing into cancerous cells. It also contains sulphur compounds which has been known to help protect against cancer as well as killing cancer cells.
It is important to note that to get the best health benefits from garlic it is best consumed raw as heat diminishes the health benefits. But some garlic is better than none. If the thought of social embarrassment from smelling like it puts you off then odourless aged garlic extract might be for you – or just pop a (sugar free) breath mint! Want to share your view on garlic? Let us know below or @ KeepfitKingdom !