Garlic adds flavor to food dishes and is primarily used as a spice in modern kitchens. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that at one time garlic was heralded as a cure-all for many ailments. Garlic may not be a magic panacea, but it does offer several benefits, and adding it to your daily diet will give a boost to your health as well as your taste buds.
Daily garlic intake will help protect your heart. A beneficial component in garlic is called allicin, and researchers at Hong Kong Polytechnic University reported that allicin is beneficial to heart health. In an article published in the Aug. 8, 2012 issue of "Phytotherapy Research," the researchers explained that allicin is easily absorbed into cells where it can go right to work delivering health benefits. Those benefits that affect the heart include preventing enlargement of the heart, encouraging the growth of new blood vessels, preventing abnormal blood clotting and keeping cholesterol and triglyceride levels in check.
In addition to allicin, garlic contains quercetin and sulfides, all of which are antibacterial and antioxidant compounds that contribute to its cancer-fighting properties. The National Cancer Institute explains that antioxidant compounds protect you from unstable molecules, which damage your cells and make them susceptible to cancer. Garlic is effective in the prevention of leukemia, skin, lung and colon cancers, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. It also can slow or stop the growth of breast, colon, lung and esophageal cancers. The more garlic you eat, the more you benefit from its protective compounds.
Biting into fresh garlic every day can help you maintain a healthy smile, which affects your heart. Bacteria in the mouth not only affects your teeth, it can also promote the development of systemic diseases according to a report in the February 2007 issue of "Harvard Health Publications." Oral bacteria and plaque not only cause tooth erosion, but they also travel into the bloodstream, lodge in the arteries and contribute to hardening of the arteries and development of heart disease. The June 2011 issue of "Cardiology" stated that chewing garlic releases its powerful antibacterial and antimicrobial compounds. Garlic's antibacterial action fights dental disease and prevents infection and plaque from traveling through the body.
High blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes, kidney disease and stroke. Adding garlic to your daily diet helps keep blood sugar in check. Researchers in India tested the effects of garlic on rats with Type 2 diabetes. The results of the study, published in the July 27, 2011 issue of "Nutrition and Metabolism," show that garlic consumption reduces blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Garlic
- Phytotherapy Research: A Review of the Cardiovascular Benefits and Antioxidant Properties of Allicin
- National Cancer Institute: Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention: Fact Sheet
- American Institute for Cancer Research: Foods That Fight Cancer: Garlic
- Harvard Health Publications: Heart Disease and Oral Health: Role of Oral Bacteria in Heart Plaque
- Cardiology: Effects of Some Common Food Constituents on Cardiovascular Disease
- Nutrition and Metabolism: Garlic Improves Insulin Sensitivity and Associated Metabolic Syndromes in Fructose Fed Rats
A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."