The Health Benefits of Garlic
Garlic is a plant species in the Allium family, and is closely related to onions, shallots, leeks and chives. A number of cloves make up one single garlic bulb.
Garlic is full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants like vitamin C, selenium, manganese and vitamin B6, and when a garlic clove is crushed, chopped or chewed it releases sulphur containing compounds which are responsible for its strong aroma – probably the most widely heard of is Allicin. It is this and its other sulphur containing compounds that scientists believe are responsible for many of the health benefits garlic boasts.Garlic is a popular ingredient in today’s kitchens, used in lots of modern day cooking due to its strong distinctive and flavourful taste. Historically though garlic was mainly used for its health and medicinal properties, including by the Egyptians and Romans.
Many of its suggested health benefits are widely known and supported through human research, which is the reason why many people today still use garlic supplements daily as a part of their healthy lifestyle.
What are the health benefits we know about garlic?
- • It can help with the common cold
- One 12 week study of volunteers showed that those supplementing daily with garlic had significantly fewer colds than those taking a placebo. Volunteers that did become infected recorded a shorter recovery period and duration of symptoms over the placebo group.
- The results of another study suggest that supplementation with garlic extract may enhance the immune cell function and can reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms.
- • It can help maintain a healthy heart and circulation
High blood pressure, or hypertension is a big factor in cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes, some of the biggest killers in today’s society. Garlic supplements have been found in human studies to have a significant impact on lowering the blood pressure levels of people with high blood pressure.(³)
Studies showed its protective effect against cardiovascular disease and its positive effect on the arteries and blood pressure. Researchers found the interaction between the red blood cells and the sulphur in garlic compounds causes the release of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) gas that relaxes and expands the blood vessels, making it easier to regulate blood pressure. (⁴)
- • It can reduce fatigue and enhance performance
Garlic was traditionally used in ancient times to reduce fatigue and enhance work capacity. It is said the the original Olympic athletes in Ancient Greece used garlic.
Animal studies have shown that garlic helps with exercise performance. Benefits in physical performance have also been noted in people with heart disease, showing a reduction in peak heart rate, along with improved exercise capacity and tolerance (⁷). Other studies have shown its promise in the anti-fatigue function of garlic (⁸).
Garlic is easy to incorporate into your daily diet via a range of ingredient forms available such as cloves, powders or pastes. As well as introducing it into your cooking where it can enhance the flavour and enjoyment of many a savoury dish (soups, breads and sauces etc.) there are also supplements available which may prove to be a more socially acceptable means of taking it – we all know of the unfortunate downside and the reputation that it has for leaving people with garlic breath.
At Hellenia for the convenience of adding garlic to your lifestyle we produce odour controlled garlic extract tablets – with each tablet being the equivalent to 1200mg of whole herb. Another option we have available is an odourless softgel capsule with 10mg of garlic extract, the equivalent to 1000mg fresh garlic in each capsule. They’re tasteless and easy to swallow. Both are available in a large quantity with pack sizes of 180 or 360 providing great value for money.
As with any new supplement it is important to discuss with your doctor or a healthcare professional before introducing it to your diet, particularly if you are on any existing medication.