The Incredible Power of Garlic

The Incredible Power of Garlic

Written by Allison Crawford
Posted April 10, 2013

Garlic has been valued as an important health food since the time of ancient civilizations. The builders of the Egyptian pyramids were said to eat garlic every day to increase strength and stamina, while the first Olympians also took garlic before performing in the games. Garlic was once considered so valuable that it was used as currency; it was even put in King Tut's tomb.

Now that modern science has revealed the many health benefits of 'the stinking rose' it may be high time to restore it to its former status.

Garlic for your health 

  • Antioxidant – garlic contains antioxidant properties and helps maintain healthy blood circulation. The organic compound allicin (responsible for garlic's unique odor and taste) is a powerful antioxidant which has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.

  • Antibiotic – Allicin is also a strong antibiotic and consumption of garlic has been linked to fewer colds, clear sinuses, and even lower cancer rates.

  • Reduced Cholesterol Studies have shown that eating garlic can help reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, while it appears to have no effect on HDL (good) cholesterol.

  • Lower Blood PressurePromising research has shown garlic to have an effect on lowering blood pressure in a series of studies, using both whole cloves and garlic powder.

  • Aphrodisiac – Because of its ability to stimulate blood flow, garlic has also been long been considered a powerful libido-booster as well.

Surprising uses for garlic

Besides doing wonders for your health, and adding flavor to your food, garlic has several other unusual uses.

  • Complexion: the antioxidant properties found in garlic can also help clear your skin. Cut a clove in half and rub over problem areas regularly.

  • Cold sores: treat painful sores around your mouth by cutting a clove of garlic in half and applying it to the sore. Garlic has been shown to be just as effective as over-the-counter treatments.

  • Athlete's foot: Garlic will also help kill fungus that causes athletes foot. Crush a few cloves and add to a foot bath of warm water. Soak the affected feet for half an hour.

The best way to get garlic

Garlic comes in several different forms, and there is still some debate about whether its effectiveness changes depending on how it's consumed. Most experts agree that the ideal way to glean the benefits of garlic is by consuming the food itself, rather than taking a supplement. The tricky part is getting the right amount of the stuff. According to Dr. David W. Kraus, associate professor of environmental science and biology at the University of Alabama, and author of a study on the effects of garlic, adults should consume about two medium-sized cloves a day to see optimum results. That may seem like a lot, but folks who live in places like the Mediterranean where garlic is prevalent in food consume as much as 8-10 cloves per day. This can be achieved by incorporating garlic into as many meals as possible.

Tips for cooking with garlic: 

  1. To get the maximum benefit from garlic, let it sit for at least 5-10 minutes after cutting, before cooking or eating. This will allow allicin to form – the compound responsible for many of garlic's health benefits.

  2. Snack on garlic hummus and vegetables for a healthy and hearty does of garlic.

  3. Sprinkle chopped garlic or garlic powder on buttered toast.

  4. Add it to pasta or stir fry sauces.

  5. Eat fennel seeds or apples along with a garlic-filled meal to help neutralize the odor.

For all its many benefits garlic has relatively few negative side effects. For some it may cause indigestion, but for many, the biggest drawback is the pungent odor which lingers long after your meal. The solution to this may be in garlic pills. However, research on the effectiveness of garlic pills is controversial with different studies showing conflicting evidence. More research is needed to know whether supplements can really measure up to the real deal.

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