What are the Benefits of Garlic?
While traveling through Central America, my over-protective aunt sent me a litany of vitamins to keep me healthy. One of the many pills was a garlic supplement she said would not only make me healthier but less tasty to mosquitoes. I don’t actually think the mosquito thing is true, unless of course they’re vampire mosquitoes, but the popularity of garlic as a health supplement stems from the fragrant bulb’s many potential health benefits.
The Garlic plant is a long green stalk with thin leaves that is closely related to the onion. Like the onion, we consume the bulb of the plant almost exclusively. People have used it in both a culinary and medicinal capacity for more than a thousand of years. Use of garlic is documented as far back as ancient Egyptian times and is even mentioned in the Bible. The Romans, the Greeks, the Chinese and everyone between has used the pungent cloves as seasoning and medicine for about as long as people have been around.
Medicinal Uses of Garlic
A number of studies done on organisms in test tubes have found garlic to have certain antibacterial and antiviral properties although these results are less clear in humans. While that’s interesting, it is garlic’s potential cardiovascular benefits that have made it so popular as a supplement. Animal studies have found that garlic can limit the buildup of cholesterol on vascular and aortic walls. Other studies have found that garlic supplementation helped prevent vascular calcification in humans with high cholesterol. There is some debate as to the reasons but it seems the natural properties of garlic help prevent plaque buildup in the arteries and may help lower your overall cholesterol level. The claim that garlic can lower cholesterol has been long accepted as medical fact but has recently been called into question based on several independent studies that found it had no effect on HDL, LDL or triglycerides.
Garlic supplementation is also used as a treatment for certain types of cancer. In countries where garlic is a larger part of cultural cuisine, inhabitants have been found to have lower instances of colon and stomach cancers.
When garlic supplements first came out, the potent doses of garlic came with a potent dose of garlic odor that was quite impossible to get rid of. As much as you want to be healthy, living longer isn’t much fun if no one wants to be around you. Now most garlic pills now don’t give you bad breath but still manage to give you all the good things garlic has to offer.
Even if you tend to eat a good amount of garlic in your diet, it may be a good idea to take a garlic supplement. With the cases of cardiovascular disease in the United States increasing daily and all the money being spent on cholesterol medication, natural remedies like garlic are a better idea now than ever. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor though and buy the odorless garlic pills.
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