Garlic is full of therapeutic effects for our body. For instance, it has antibiotic, hypotensive and antioxidant properties, among others. However, it is not easy to take because of its strong smell and taste. Nevertheless, there are alternatives so that we can take advantage of its benefits.
Garlic is an enormously popular ingredient in
cooking, not only for its taste and smell but also for its culinary richness
since it stands out for its medicinal properties. Garlic is apparently native
to the Asian continent, and its harvest extends worldwide thanks to the ability
this plant has to adapt to very different climate conditions and its
outstanding therapeutic action. Its benefits were widely known to ancient
civilizations: the Egyptians considered it a strong energizer and gave it as
food to the builders of the pyramids; the Greeks gave it to marathon athletes;
in the Middle Ages, it was used as an antiseptic; and during the First World
War, it was used to disinfect wounds.
The secret of its success
Raw garlic contains alliin. If garlic
is crushed or cut, this substance becomes allicin, which is the compound
responsible for most of its beneficial effects. Allicin is a very unstable
compound and practically disappears if we cook garlic or even if we dehydrate
it. Just by chewing raw garlic, allicin and other components are
rapidly metabolized and distributed throughout the body with relevant biological
What benefits does it
- It contains antioxidants that
protect from the harmful effect that free radicals have on cells. Some
studies show that antioxidants contained in garlic may help prevent some
dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- It is beneficial
for your heart. It helps reduce cholesterol, regulate blood pressure,
and has vasodilator effects, enhancing blood flow in arteries.
- It is a powerful natural
antibiotic. It helps eliminate harmful bacteria from the
- It may help us
prevent and tackle the symptoms of flu or colds by increasing our
body’s defenses, and it also works as an expectorant and decongestant.
- It is quite nutritious but low-calorie.
It is very rich in vitamin C, B6 and manganese, and contains selenium,
fiber, calcium, phosphorus and iron, which are essential minerals for proper
muscle contraction and the proper functioning of the nervous system.
- It has diuretic
properties that help us eliminate toxins.
- It regulates glucose
levels. Garlic contains properties that increase the body’s
sensitivity to insulin.
How can we benefit from
all its properties?
Garlic is therefore full of health benefits, and
you can easily include it in your daily diet. However, research shows that even
if you consume high amounts of fresh garlic, it is not guaranteed that your
body will assimilate all the allicin. Stomach acids decrease the concentration
of allicin during the digestion process. As a consequence, it would be a great
idea to take garlic in the form of tablets with an enteric coating, which would
make them resistant to stomach acids so that they do not release the compound
until they reach the small intestine, where the maximum absorption of allicin
would be produced. With the consumption of tablets, you will also avoid some
other inconveniences, such as the well-known bad smell that causes bad breath
and the annoying feeling when garlic repeats on you.
What about black garlic?
Black garlic is a product that is increasingly found in stores. Contrary to
what is thought by many, it is not fermented garlic but white garlic that has
been subjected to constant temperature and humidity for long periods of time in
order to eliminate allicin and, thus, enhance its taste, making it smoother and
sweeter. As it lacks allicin or contains it in quite reduced amounts, black
garlic loses many of the therapeutic properties that are attributed to this
substance. In addition, research claims that during the thermal process to
which garlic is subjected, some molecules harmful to health may be produced.