I remember a call with my mother about a decade ago in which she continually bragged about my three-year-old nephew. She was telling me how much he still enjoyed being cuddled and then paused. “But,” she said, “frequently the smell of garlic coming off of him is overwhelming. He just loves the stuff!” My nephew has eaten a largely raw, plant-based diet since he first started on solid food, and is one of the healthiest kids I know. Instinctively he knew that garlic was one of the world’s superfoods.
Garlic lovers already know how good this food tastes, but they might not know just how amazing it is for their health. Here are some of my favorite health benefits and uses for garlic.
According to James Duke, PhD, botanist and author of The Green Pharmacy, several compounds found in garlic, including allicin, have antiviral activity against colds and flu.
Systemic Infection Solution
Countless studies over the last few decades have demonstrated the antibacterial activity of garlic against both gram positive and gram negative strains of bacteria. New research in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that garlic is one of the most potent antibacterial herbs. Of the 83 herbs tested, compounds in garlic and juniper showed the highest antibacterial action, including against drug-resistant infections like S. aureus and E. coli. S. Aureus (the bacteria that is involved in MRSA infections) can cause systemic infections of the blood, heart, spinal cord or bones.
Garlic is such a superb antibacterial agent, it is of little surprise that more and more research links it to destroying infections that even antibiotics cannot address. Recent research in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine found that raw garlic showed potency against H. pylori—the antibiotic-resistant bacteria linked to conditions like stomach ulcers.
Urinary Tract Infection Alleviator
Anyone who has ever had a urinary tract infection knows how difficult they can be to treat. The Journal of Parasitic Diseases concluded that garlic was effective against bacteria linked to urinary tract infections, even when antibiotics failed.
Research in the International Journal of Mycobacteriology found that garlic was one of fifteen plants that showed effectiveness against tuberculosis.
Allicin is not only a natural antibiotic, it is also an antioxidant that helps to prevent the cell damage that can be a precursor of cancer. Researchers have concluded that garlic has the ability to inhibit different types of tumors and lower the risks of esophageal, stomach and prostate cancer. Research has also shown that allicin can not only slow the proliferation of human gastric cancer cells, but also cause cancer cell death.
High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease Remedy
Many studies have demonstrated garlic’s heart-healing ability over the last few decades. A recent study similarly concluded that garlic can help reduce high blood pressure and the risk for heart disease. The researchers also found that garlic supplements did not interfere with medications used to treat these conditions. Other research found that garlic significantly reduced triglycerides, high levels of which are linked to heart disease.
Exciting new research in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research found that aged garlic extract was effective at reducing some markers for diabetes and may offer hope in the treatment of diabetes.
There are very few savory dishes that don’t benefit from the addition of garlic. You can add it to soups, stews, stir-fries, curries, sauces and pastas.
- 5 Recipes for Garlic Lovers
- 16 Creative Ways to Use Garlic
- Roasted Garlic and Potato Soup
- Lemon Garlic Quinoa with White Beans
- Garlic, Cilantro and Bread Soup
When supplementing with garlic, follow package directions as there is a large variation in dosages and active ingredients between products.
Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news World’s Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include the upcoming book: : Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty Cooking.