Fun facts about garlic:
Yes, there are that many health benefits of garlic! That vampire title is true too! Well, at least the story is. Garlic was “the big thing” in southern Slavic countries and Romania for centuries. It was used to both find and ward off vampires. A vampire in hiding could be spotted by not being willing to eat garlic.
Also, as late as the 1970’s, a Romanian church distributed garlic during service, observing those who refused to eat it and then calling those people in, accusing them of being vampires! I know, it’s unbelievable, but it’s true.
Now here are more fun facts before we get to the health benefits of garlic. Garlic is a plant in the allium (onion) family. It is quite closely related to shallots, leeks, and onions. It also grows in many parts of the world and is a popular ingredient in cooking due to its strong smell and delicious taste. Garlic grows all year around in mild climates and forms very hardy stalks.
Further, it contains over 100 biologically active components including alliin, allicin, alliinase and unique sulfur compounds. When garlic is crushed or chewed it forces the allin and allinase enzymes together causing a chemical reaction that produces allicin.
The strong smell repels most insects, rodents and other animals that would potentially be predators. Sometimes it repels loved ones too…but I digress. The largest supplier of garlic is China while in the U.S., California is a major world supplier. Garlic is typically grown without the use of toxic chemicals and always tests out very low for levels of pesticides and herbicides.
It’s Nutritious! A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of garlic contains:
Vitamin C: 15% of the RDA
Vitamin B6: 17% of the RDA
Manganese: 23% of the RDA
Selenium: 6% of the RDA
Fiber: 1 gram
In addition, it has respectable amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, Vitamin B1, and iron too!
Garlic also contains trace amounts of various other nutrients. It has 42 calories, with 1.8 grams of protein and 9 grams of carbs.
It comes in several forms such as whole cloves, smooth pastes, powders, extracts, and oils. The minimum effective dose for therapeutic effects which I’ll get into next is one clove eaten with meals, three or four times a day.
However, keep in mind that there are some downsides to garlic, such as bad breath. Chlorophyll found in green veggies and herbs helps to remove the allyl methyl sulfide and reduce the garlic-y smell.
Parsley, fennel seeds, and peppermint are also “decent” at masking this smell. However, nothing can completely mask it so if you are going to consume therapeutic amounts I hope you already have good friends!
Regarding preparation: The active compound allicin only forms when garlic is crushed or cleaved when it is raw. If you cook it before crushing it, then it won’t have the same health effects. Therefore, the best way to consume this tasty but strong stuff is to eat it raw. Alternatively, you can crush and cut it and leave it out for a while before you add it to your recipes. You can also take the easy way out with an odorless supplement (more to come on this). Now for the “good stuff” meaning the health benefits of garlic.
One of the best health benefits of garlic – Immune health:
Eating garlic can boost the number of virus-fighting T-cells in your bloodstream. In fact, colds and flu are caused by viruses which are battled by T cells. Scientists from the University of Florida reported in “Clinical Nutrition” in 2012 that taking aged garlic extract reduced the severity of cold and flu symptoms. Not only that but also the symptoms went away faster in those who took the garlic extract than among those who didn’t.
Another large 12-week study found that a daily supplement reduced the number of colds by 63% compared with placebo. The average length of cold symptoms was also reduced by 70%, from 5 days in placebo to just 1.5 days in the supplement group.
Additionally, another study found that a good supplement at a high dose (equivalent to 2 caps of our Garlicillin) reduced the number of sick days from cold and/or flu by a whopping 61%!
Allicin along with other sulfur based compounds such as ajoene and diithins act as powerful antibiotic, anti-viral, and anti-fungal agents which super-boost our immune systems. Some researchers have found garlic to be more powerful at destroying pathogenic bacteria than penicillin and tetracycline!
It’s anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal:
As an example, it is very effective against viruses and yeasts such as Candida. It’s usually part of an anti-candida “routine.” Speaking of candida, one of the key compounds in garlic is ajoene, a proven antifungal, shown to be effective against many fungal strains, including all strains of candida. Ajoene is formed from a compound named allicin and an enzyme named allinase. When these two natural compounds come into contact (by chopping the garlic, crushing it or by other means), they form an antibacterial agent named allicin, which then combines to form ajoene.
Although ajoene has proven anti-fungal properties, the exact mechanism by which this happens is not clear. As with other anti-fungals, scientists suspect that it works by disrupting the cells walls of the Candida yeast cells. In fact, it is a part of many anti-yeast-infection plans for women prone to infections.
It helps prevent adrenal burnout:
Garlic can affect your adrenal glands’ response to stress. After supplementation, your adrenals produce fewer stress hormones—notably less cortisol. If you’ve followed this blog, you know high cortisol causes everything from adrenal fatigue to immune suppression. When you reduce cortisol levels, your immune system works better to fend of all “bugs.”
Garlic and vasodilation:
Garlic can lower blood pressure by 10%, but only if you take it in supplemental form.
Researchers have known for about ten years that the allicin made from alliin in garlic blocks the activity of angiotensin II. A small piece of protein (peptide), angiotensin II helps our blood vessels contract. This shifts our blood pressure upward. By blocking the activity of angiotensin II, allicin can help prevent unwanted contraction of our blood vessels and unwanted increases in blood pressure.
Supplemental vs. Raw
In one study, supplemental doses of the allicin derivatives ajolene and diithins was just as effective as the drug Atenolol at reducing blood pressure over a 24 week period. The review of 21 studies on humans found supplements containing a guaranteed dose of the active ingredient allicin consistently led to reductions in blood pressure.
Further, supplemental garlic also elevates levels of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide benefits blood pressure by relaxing and dilating blood vessels. Another benefit is that it helps deliver more blood to the brain, helping your overall “brain health.”
To point out, eating the real thing would not have the same effect, says the review. The first reason is the preparation. Although allicin is produced when raw garlic is crushed or chewed, much of it is destroyed during cooking. The review looked at supplements with a guaranteed allicin yield of 1.8 mg per dose. The second reason (unless you are trying to prove you’re not a vampire) is the dose.
It would be very difficult to get a therapeutic dose from eating raw garlic, as you would need 30 cloves at one sitting. We also don’t actually have evidence that it would work either. Note that we now know by-products of allicin called ajoene and diithins are much more potent than “just allicin.” In other words don’t get focused on allicin content; the research has evolved. The health benefits of garlic are due to ajoene, diithins, and allicin. Remember that if you shop around as many manufacturers sell an allicin-rich-only product and call it a garlic supplement.
Heart and peripheral vascular disease prevention:
Evidence from numerous studies suggests this magic clove works through various mechanisms to achieve this favorable effect. It reduces blood pressure levels as discussed above.
Perhaps most importantly it inhibits platelet aggregation and increases clot-busting (fibrinolytic) activity. In other words, this allium vegetable may also be able to help prevent clots from forming inside of our blood vessels. This cardiovascular protection has been linked to one particular disulfide in the cloves we now know is—tadaaaa—ajoene! Ajoene has repeatedly been shown to have anti-clotting properties.
It can help prevent certain cells in our blood (called platelets) from becoming too sticky. As a result, it lowers the risk of our platelets clumping together and forming a clot. Most of the research on garlic and our cardiovascular system has been conducted on its powder, oil, or aged extracts.
Additionally, some studies show that it is clearly able to lower our blood triglycerides and total cholesterol, with reductions seen at 5-15%. However, other studies demonstrate that supplementation reduces total and LDL cholesterol with little effect on triglycerides. Recent studies question if it’s effective at all. The answer right now is who knows? Cholesterol and possible triglyceride reduction are not the most impressive cardio-protective benefits. Let’s further discuss the ways it helps with the prevention of heart disease.
Inflammation and Oxidative stress:
We have already discussed the reduction of clots. Other amazing benefits are blood vessel protection from inflammation and oxidative stress. Damage to blood vessel linings by free radicals from oxidative stress is key in the evolution of atherosclerosis. Oxidative damage also leads to inflammation, with both, of course, putting our blood vessels at risk of plaque formation and clogging.
What about blood sugar?
Preliminary studies are hinting that garlic may indeed help with blood sugar control, another risk factor for heart disease. However, this might have to do with body fat; the results are not fully “in.” Now that I mentioned it let’s discuss garlic’s effect on body fat.
Any effect on fat cells?
While still in its very early stages, research suggests that garlic consumption may help to regulate the number of fat cells that form in our body. Without giving you the boring biochemical pathways for this, I’ll tell you it has to do with an anti-inflammatory derivative of allicin. Though only recently have researchers discovered that some of our fibroblastic cells (called “preadipocytes”) only evolve into full-fledged fat cells (called “adipocytes”) under inflammatory, metabolic circumstances. Still, it all looks quite promising that supplementation might help with obesity! So, stay tuned!
And for cancer prevention?
Study limitations, including the accuracy of reporting the amounts and frequency of garlic consumed, and the inability to compare data from studies that used different products and amounts make a conclusion about cancer prevention impossible.
Since so many of the studies looking at garlic and cancer prevention have used multi-ingredient products, it is unclear whether garlic alone or in combination with other nutritional components is having anti-cancer effects. Somewhat conclusive studies will be discussed next.
The most evidence comes with the prevention of several specific types of cancer. Several population studies show an association between increased intake of garlic and reduced risk of cancers including stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, and breast. There is some evidence for prevention of prostate and brain cancer as well. Of course, research continues in this arena.
Protective effects against cancer may arise from garlic’s antibacterial properties or from its ability to block the formation of cancer-causing substances. It may also come from the blocking of the activation of cancer-causing substances, or the enhancement of DNA repair. Further, it might reduce cancer cell proliferation, or induce cancer cell death.
So, isn’t garlic a potentially amazingly healthy addition to your diet? Perhaps you’re like me, thinking, “OK I like garlic, but I seriously don’t want to smell like it all day, every day plus I don’t want to eat it all day, every day.” That’s why we have the most potent odorless garlic supplement on the market. It has significant amounts of garlic oil macerate containing allicin as well as therapeutic doses of both super-potent compounds ajoene and diithins.
Many people combine our supplement with our nitric oxide-enhancing supplement to lower their risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood-thinning medications, then talk to your doctor before increasing your garlic consumption if you are going to take plain allicin supplements. However, there are no issues with our particular supplement.