If there is one thing I enjoy as a doctor, it is being able to give patients advice that is easy and pleasant to follow. All-too-often, health advice sounds restrictive. That gets tiring for a patient.
Fortunately not everything is that way. I’m happy to recommend that my patients enjoy a bit of chocolate after dinner. I’m glad to be able to suggest a glass of wine with dinner. I like telling my patients that they don’t need to avoid eggs. All of these things come across as welcome advice.
One more bit of welcome advice for most people is to cook more with garlic. Some people don’t like the way garlic smells, but most everyone agrees that it makes food taste better. Garlic provides a huge list of health benefits. And as long as you share your garlic-cooked meals with your loved ones, the smell shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
Let’s take a look at all the benefits that garlic provides.
A Single Food Boosts Your Health in Many Ways
Garlic is a part of the onion family. These little bulbs contain more than 100 different sulfur compounds that deliver powerful benefits to your body.
Garlic and the Heart: The sulfur compounds in garlic help to lower your blood pressure. These compounds raise your body’s levels of hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide helps the cells that line your arteries and blood vessels to relax, and that lowers your blood pressure.[i] It can also help to prevent the build-up of plaque on the artery walls, which can lower your risk of heart attack.
Garlic and Diabetes: Garlic helps to counter the effects of metabolic syndrome. If you remember in a recent issue, I talked about metabolic syndrome and how it can lead to diabetes and heart disease. Two of the factors that contribute to this condition are high fasting blood glucose and high triglyceride levels. Researchers have found that supplementing with garlic for four weeks helped people with metabolic syndrome to lower their triglyceride levels and achieve better insulin sensitivity.[ii]
Garlic and the Immune System: The sulfur compounds in garlic boost the immune system. They attack bacteria and help prevent illness. They also help to stop infection from forming within the body.[iii]
Garlic and Cancer: The sulfur compounds in garlic work as powerful antioxidants within your body. Researchers found that garlic intake helps to significantly lower the risk for a number of cancers including oral, esophageal, colorectal, breast, prostate, and renal cancers.[iv]
There can be no doubt that garlic is a superfood when it comes to health benefits. Anyone can easily benefit from garlic by using it more often when cooking. To get the most out of your garlic, you need to allow the compound alliin to convert to allicin. Chopping or crushing the garlic starts this conversion, but heat stops it. However, heat does not destroy allicin once it has formed. So after you chop or crush the garlic, let it sit for ten minutes before cooking.
Garlic supplements are also available and are an effective way to take advantage of health benefits.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
[i] “Garlic Boosts Hydrogen Sulfide to Relax Arteries,” ScienceDaily. 10/17/2007
[ii] Sobenin IA, et al. “Metabolic effects of time-released garlic powder tablets in type 2 diabetes mellitus: the results of double-blinded placebo-controlled study,” Acta Diabetol 2007.
[iii] Schaufelberger, K. “Garlic: An Immunity Boosting Superstar,” WebMD. 7/30/2007
[iv] Galeone C, et al. “Onion and garlic use and human cancer,” Am J Clin Nutr 2006; 84(5): 1027-32