Garlic is a fruit that has been used for many centuries in cooking for its unique flavor and aroma, but also in medicine. Today, garlic is a considered as a multi-purpose seed and it is used for the treatment of many health problems, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension and and cold.
What is garlic
Garlic derives from the plant Allium sativum L., and it is cultivated all over the world. The active part of the plant is located in the bulb, which contains 4-20 cloves surrounded by white leaves. It has an intense and hot taste, as it contains a series of sulfur compounds. It is rich in water soluble vitamins of B-complex as well as in minerals. The main active ingredient of garlic, responsible for its properties, is alisine and its sulfur compounds.
Actions and properties
Garlic is rich in antioxidant compounds that help reduce oxidative stress and prevent the occurrence of degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. The antioxidant properties of garlic are destroyed by cooking.
One of the most known effects of garlic is that can effectively reduce blood pressure. According to studies, garlic extract decreases both systolic (10-11 mmHg) and diastolic (6-8 mmHg) blood pressure. The hypotensive action of garlic is due to the prostaglandin-like action, thus reducing peripheral vascular resistance. Daily intake of 240-960 mg of garlic with S-allylcysteine in 0.6-2.4mg, can significantly reduce blood pressure over a 12-week period.
One of the most important effects of garlic is its positive effect on cardiovascular health and prevention of atherosclerosis. Garlic acts like a blood thinner, has fibrinolytic properties and reduces the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Due to the aformentioned actions, garlic can reduce the rate or even prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaque, as well as the occurrence of a heart attacks and strokes. Additional alicin can significantly reduce total cholesterol (~ 8%), increase HDL cholesterol but has noo effect on serum triglycerides.
For many centuries, garlic has been used to treat infections as well as to treat cold. Supplementation of garlic has been shown to help prevent the occurrence of colds, while in cases of infection, it also helps symptoms go away faster.
Garlic has strong anti-fungal and antiviral properties. The reason is garlic extract contains substances that reduce oxygen uptake, inhibits the synthesis of vital molecules for the survival of pathogenic microorganisms, leading to their elimination. Thanks to the above action, many dietary supplements for the treatment of candidiasis (intestinal or vaginal infection) contain garlic extract.
According to many epidemiological studies, garlic has anticancer properties regarding gastrointestinal cancers such as cancer of stomach, intestine and esophagus. Garlic extract inhibits the adhesion of carcinogenic substances to DNA and contributes to their destruction, because of antioxidant effects. It also appears to mediate the proliferation and apoptosis of cancer cells.
The role of garlic extract in diabetes is under study. According to many experimental studies, the sulfur compounds contained in garlic (alliin, allicin, diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide, diallyl sulfide, S-allyl cysteine, ajoene and allyl mercaptan) appear to exert hypoglycemic action. Garlic extract reduces insulin resistance, thereby improving glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes.
Forms and dosage
Garlic supplements may contain dry, fresh, aged and cold-pressed garlic as well as garlic oil, each having different effects and properties, as well.
Contraindications and interactions
Excessive consumption of garlic may cause gastrointestinal disturbances, bloating and bad odor.
As garlic acts like a blood thinner, it is contraindicated along with anticoagulants or antiplatelet therapy. Also dietary supplements are not recommended for people with ulcer and thyroid problems, pregnant and breastfeeding women.
In Vita4you you can find a great variety of dietary supplements with garlic.