Garlic is an easy addition to many types of meals. Besides being widely used as a flavoring and seasoning, garlic can provide remarkable health benefits.
Here are five benefits of garlic and how much you should add to your diet.
1. Garlic is very nutritious compared to its size
A clove of raw garlic contains 14 calories, 0.57g of protein, and about three grams of carbs (one slice of white bread has 34g of carbs, for comparison).
Although a clove of raw garlic is very small, there is actually a large amount of the following vitamins and nutrients:
Vitamin C (2.81 mg)
Selenium (1.28 mcg)
-Manganese (0.15 mg)
-Iron (0.15 mg)
And you shouldn’t add too much garlic to your diet too quickly, says Tracy Bregman, a food and nutrition expert at the University of Georgia: “One or two cloves a day should be the maximum that anyone should consume.” Eating more than that can cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, bloating, or bad breath.
“If you choose to add two cloves of garlic daily to your diet, you may also want to add fresh parsley, mint, or raw apples to your diet to help prevent bad breath associated with garlic consumption,” Bregman says.
2. Garlic May Help Strengthen Your Immune System
The delicious garlic bulbs at the end of the plant are rich in nutritious compounds called allicin and alliinase. In fact, the presence of allicin helps in strengthening the immune system.
A 2015 review found that garlic strengthens the immune system by stimulating immune cells such as macrophages, lymphocytes, and natural killer cells.
Bregman says garlic may also help ward off colds and flu due to the plant’s antimicrobial and antibiotic properties, which would stop the growth of viruses, bacteria and other unwanted organisms.
However, Bregman notes that there is a lack of strong evidence that garlic supplements help prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu.
You should still wash your hands, avoid touching your face, stay hydrated, and practice other ways to prevent getting sick. Garlic probably won’t prevent disease, but it may provide a little extra boost if you want to boost your immune system.
3. Garlic may reduce the risk of some types of cancer
Garlic is also a good source of phytochemicals, which help provide protection against cell damage and reduce the risk of some types of cancer, says Bregman.
Phytochemicals are compounds found in vegetables and fruits that have been linked to a lower risk of chronic disease. There is some evidence that ingesting phytochemicals through garlic can have anti-cancer effects and potentially reduce the risk of stomach and colorectal cancer.
However, there is a lack of research in humans, and it has not been proven that consuming garlic can actually prevent or treat cancer.
4. Garlic May Improve Heart Health
A study published in 2019 found that taking two capsules of garlic extract daily for two months can lower blood pressure and reduce atherosclerosis for people with high blood pressure.
“Garlic appears to do overall protection for your heart,” Bregman says. In addition, a 2013 report suggested that garlic can lower blood lipids, which means lower cholesterol and therefore a lower risk of plaque buildup in the cardiovascular system.
The amount of garlic needed to achieve these heart-healthy effects varies among individuals. However, given the research available on the topic, it’s best to consume about four fresh cloves of garlic per week, says Pooja Agarwal, MD, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center.
5. Garlic may allow you to exercise for longer
Historically, ancient Greek athletes ate garlic before sporting events to improve their performance. This is because garlic releases nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. This compound is often released during running to provide working muscles with more oxygen.
Some studies in mice and rats have also found that garlic can improve athletic endurance. However, Bregman points out, the inconclusive data in humans means we can’t draw definitive conclusions.
Source: Business Insider