In addition to being an excellent spice for its intense and striking flavor, garlic can also be used as a potent natural antibiotic, fighting the flu and boosting immunity.
There are records that garlic was already used when the pyramids of Giza were built, more than 5,000 years ago. In medicine, it was already prescribed by Hippocrates, known as the father of Western medicine, for the treatment of a variety of illnesses, mainly respiratory.
With the advancement of science most of the benefits of garlic have been proven. Today, it is known that garlic can help treat colds, lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol .
Do you want to know everything about garlic and its ways of using it, in addition to cooking? So read on.
5 Benefits of Garlic for Health
Garlic is an extremely nutritious and low-calorie food: approximately 4.5 per raw clove. That means you can consume it guilt-free.
According to nutritionist Camila Lemos, “garlic, Allium Sativum L. (scientific name), has vitamins (A, B2, B6, C), mineral salts ( iron , selenium, silicon and iodine), amino acids and enzymes. The main active ingredient is allicin, which gives garlic its natural antimicrobial effect (antifungal, antibacterial), antioxidant, and improves immunity”.
Allicin is a compound obtained when garlic is cut or kneaded, through an enzymatic reaction. This compound with proven antibiotic properties exists to protect garlic from predators and is also present in foods such as onions and leeks.
Check out some of its main health benefits:
1- Fight the cold
Studies show that allicin is highly effective in fighting and preventing the common cold. In a recent study, 146 volunteers were divided into two groups. One of them took a placebo and another consumed allicin capsules daily.
After the 12-week period, the rate of colds among those who consumed allicin was 63% lower. The mean duration of symptoms was also 70% shorter. ( 1 )
This result is only possible because this substance acts as a natural disinfectant, due to its high antibiotic power . In addition to stopping viruses and bacteria already installed, the main active in garlic makes the immune system stronger, through the production of white blood cells (leukocytes), preventing the recurrence of these diseases.
So, having a good cup of garlic and lemon tea can help fight and prevent simple colds.
2- Reduces high blood pressure
It is known that hypertension is an important risk factor for several serious and potentially fatal diseases, such as stroke and heart attack.
In addition to regular medical monitoring and continuous medication use, studies show that garlic can help reduce blood pressure in hypertensive individuals and keep the body healthier and away from risk. ( 2 )
This is because, in simpler terms, sulfur and allicin help to “thin the blood” in a similar reaction to ASA, preventing clots from forming and dilating blood vessels. As a result, blood circulates more easily through veins and arteries, lowering blood pressure and the chances of cardiovascular disease, such as stroke.
3- Controls cholesterol
Cholesterol is not always a villain. It is an essential substance for the proper functioning of the body, protecting cells and participating in the constitution of vital organs.
The big secret, therefore, is in the balance between HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. According to studies, allicin in garlic can help lower total cholesterol levels and especially LDL. ( 3 , 4 )
4- Prevents Alzheimer’s
Garlic has proven antioxidant action, which helps protect vital cells and organs. According to studies, garlic, through cholesterol reduction, hypertension, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action, helps to prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other dementias, inhibiting cognitive decline and protecting neurons, improving learning and memory. ( 5 )
These antioxidants work by cleaning up the body and leaving it free from free radicals and toxins that, in addition to accelerating the aging process, are also the cause of several diseases.
5- Increases immunity
With so many benefits, it is not easy to imagine that immunity also gains with the frequent use of garlic, either in food or in the form of teas and supplements.
This, in fact, is a simple consequence of all the above: through the antibiotic effect, lowering cholesterol and antioxidant action, the immune system becomes more resistant and, therefore, less susceptible to common illnesses such as flu, colds and viruses .
|100 gram serving||Amount per serving|
|Energetic value||113 Kcal|
* Daily reference values based on a 2000kcal or 8400kj diet. Your daily values can be higher or lower depending on your energy needs. Data taken from TACO, revised and expanded edition.
How to peel garlic?
It may sound silly, but many people have a hard time finding a practical and quick way to peel the garlic and get it ready for use. In fact, this tip has a direct connection with the benefits of this food: so that allicin can be fully used, it is good to chop it about 10 minutes before use.
Here are some simple tricks that will make your life easier when peeling garlic:
Using the microwave : place the garlic head in the microwave for approximately 20 seconds. Take it out carefully as it will be hot. Carefully open the head of the garlic and note that the cloves will easily come off the rind. Note: Avoid doing this with loose teeth.
Using a pot with a lid: Put the amount of garlic cloves you want to use in a plastic pot with a lid, close it and shake it hard, for approximately 30 seconds. When opening the pot you will notice that the teeth will already be without the shell.
Soaking: Put several cloves of garlic in a pot of enough water to cover them. Soak for at least 1 hour and you’ll notice how easily the skin will come off. This tip is valid for when you have more time and want to strip several teeth at once. But, remember to chop them only when using to maintain their properties.
Garlic water: what is it, what is it for and how to prepare it at home
Garlic water is a way to extract all the benefits of food, without necessarily consuming it in food. That’s because, according to nutritionist Camila, “the best way to take advantage of allicin’s properties is not to use heat.”
As for the indication of the use of garlic water, she answers that “garlic water is highly effective for those who need to increase immunity and/or have recurrent fungal infections, such as candidiasis”.
The preparation of garlic water is quite simple and can be done at home for daily consumption. To extract the properties of allicin, the ideal is to macerate the desired amount of garlic and place them in a container with water at room temperature, let it rest for 12 hours, without contact with light. After this period, the garlic water is ready to be consumed throughout the day.
Contraindications and side effects
As with any food, indiscriminate or excessive use can harm health. Due to its anticoagulant effect, Camila warns that its use is contraindicated for “pregnant women, nursing mothers and children, and people who are going to undergo surgery due to the anticoagulant effect, or who are already using an anticoagulant”.
Learn how to prepare simple garlic recipes
Want to please health and taste at the same time? So it’s time to take garlic out of the reserve and let it be the protagonist of delicious and healthy dishes. Check out two recipes to make at home today:
The traditional Italian sauce is excellent to accompany various pastas and adds a touch of sophistication and incredible flavor to the dish.
- 4 cloves of garlic squeezed
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup (of tea) of chopped fresh basil leaves
- 3 teaspoons of crushed shelled walnuts
- 100 grams of grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup (of tea) of oil
- Black pepper to taste.
Place all ingredients in a bowl, mix well until smooth. Store in sterile glass.
Tip : to crush the nuts use a food processor, a pestle or your hands.
Want to give a chef’s touch to your weekend barbecue? Garlic butter adds a special flavor to red meat, but it also accompanies vegetables and fish masterfully. Besides, it’s still super easy to prepare, check it out:
Cut the head of the garlic, add salt, pepper and drizzle with oil. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake in a medium oven for about 15 minutes or until the garlic is very soft. Then peel the garlic cloves and mash them well. Place in butter with other ingredients and mix.
With so many benefits and simple recipes to make, what is missing to definitely include garlic in your daily life? Whether through garlic tea, garlic water or a multitude of existing recipes and sauces, garlic has everything to make your diet much tastier and nutritious. Your health thanks.