#HealthBytes: What are the health benefits of garlic?
Garlic is used widely as a flavoring substance, but it has many other uses as well. The herb is closely related to onion, shallot, leek, chive, and Chinese onion. It has been used for thousands of years, especially in ancient Egypt, for both culinary purposes and for its health and therapeutic benefits. Read to find out how regular consumption of garlic helps our body.
Garlic can help in prevention of heart disease
Consuming garlic on a daily basis (in food or raw form) helps to lower cholesterol levels because of the antioxidant properties of allicin, a sulphur-containing compound found in garlic. It is also helpful in regulating blood pressure and sugar levels. Now, because the compound tends to lose its medicinal properties when garlic is cooked whole, consume garlic raw or semi-cooked to reap its benefits.
It can reduce the frequency of cold infections
Garlic or its supplements help prevent and reduce the severity of common illnesses like the flu and common cold. One study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of cold incidents by 63%, as compared to a placebo. Another study reported that preventive use of garlic may decrease the frequency of cold in adults, but may not affect the duration of symptoms.
It also acts as a natural antibiotic, and boosts immunity
Garlic has antibacterial properties that help protect against certain infections. This is particularly important for strains resistant to antibiotics. Garlic is also an immunity booster since it protects against free radicals and prevents damage to the DNA. Garlic has zinc that promotes immunity, and Vitamin C that helps to fight off infections, especially eye and ear infections as it has antimicrobial properties.
Garlic has cancer-fighting characteristics as well
Studies have suggested that garlic can play a role in prevention of cancer and slowing its progression. Because of a high amount of antioxidants, garlic may protect the body against lung, prostate, bladder, stomach, liver and colon cancers. The antibacterial action of garlic helps prevent peptic ulcers as it eliminates the contagion from the gut. However, garlic is NOT a replacement for cancer treatments.
Garlic can improve your skin and hair
Garlic's antioxidants and antibacterial properties can also clear up your skin by killing acne-causing bacteria. They also protect the skin from the effects of free radicals and slow down collagen depletion. Garlic can be an effective remedy for fungal infections like athlete's foot and ringworms. Rubbing crushed garlic extract on your scalp or massaging with garlic-infused oil is traditionally used to prevent hair loss.