Garlic has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years, dating as far back as to when the Giza pyramids were built. It has been said, that builders of the ancient pyramids ate garlic on a daily basis for enhanced endurance and strength, and that soldiers during World War I depended on garlic for its antiseptic properties. Today, garlic is still widely recognised as a health enhancing supplement and superfood. Through its antioxidant properties, garlic promotes the well-being of the heart and the immune system, and helps to maintain healthy blood circulation.
One of garlics most potent health benefits includes the ability to enhance the body’s immune cell activity and strengthen the body’s defences. A study published in 2012 showed that supplementation with garlic resulted in a 21% reduction of cold and ‘flu symptoms reported, 61% of patients reported fewer days of illness and 58% of patients reported fewer incidences functioning sub-optimally resulting in the number of work/school days missed due to illness.(1) Not surprisingly, several constituents in garlic can attribute to its wide range of positive effect on the immune system (antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, antiviral etc.) and not surprisingly, other major benefits have been found from the use of garlic.More than 35 conditions have been studied with regards to garlic and its potent health benefits (2). Of those 35, cholesterol, cancer and hypertension are the most researched and have shown the most benefit gained from garlic consumption. Compounds in fresh garlic have been shown to lower blood pressure, decrease risk of blood clots and lower serum LDL (bad fats) while increasing HDL (good fats) (3). Garlic has also been shown to produce a substance that helps relax blood vessel walls which can therefore be used in people with high blood pressure (4). In addition to this, it is also showing positive results in cancer development and outcome.
Garlic has a characteristic pungent spicy flavour that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking. To get the most benefits from garlic it must be crushed or cut and consumed as close to raw as possible. If you are cooking with garlic, add it as the final ingredient that goes in just prior to serving the meal. Enjoy garlic all year round to benefit from its vast range of therapeutic qualities.
Caution: High doses, generally obtained from supplements, can interfere with medications and use of high dosed garlic should be discussed with your primary health care provider prior to consumption.