Garlic Health Benefits - Some Research and Studies
There has been literally countless number of studies carried out on the numerous claimed garlic health benefits. This article summarizes some of these studies and research.
These medicinal properties of garlic are elaborated in more detail in the other related garlic articles, and you may be interested to take a look at them too.
Chemical Composition of Garlic
Studies showed that garlic contains enzymes, vitamin Bs, flavonoids and certain minerals, and that it is a good source of antioxidants; protein; minerals like calcium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and selenium; as well as vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B6 and vitamin C.
One of the health benefits of garlic is its high nutrient content.
Studies showed that garlic contains more than 80 sulfur-containing compounds, and many of them are very responsible for many garlic health benefits.
Garlic and the Brain
Studies on animals have found that brain function improves after garlic consumption. A possibility for this effect is that antioxidants present in garlic helps to get rid of accumulated free radicals in the body. If this is indeed the case, then garlic may be useful in treating Alzheimer's patients whose disease is caused by free radical accumulation.
Somewhat unexpectedly, there are garlic health benefits on the brain, too.
Research in China has shown that sallylcystein, a sulfur compound present in garlic, prevents degeneration of the frontal lobes of the brain. Hence, one possible garlic health benefit is that eating garlic may actually make one more intelligent.
Garlic and Cancer - Is Garlic Anti Cancer?
A study conducted in the 1960s found garlic to be promising in dealing with cancer. Out of 35 advanced cancer sufferers who were given garlic juice intravenously or intramuscularly for 3 to 7 days, 26 experienced positive results.
One of the foremost garlic health benefits is its anti cancer properties.
Some studies showed that garlic helps the white blood cells in the body to defend against and fight cancerous cells.
Studies conducted in the 1950s showed that allicin, a compound in garlic, when injected into rats, lengthened their survival time to more than 6 months; those not treated lived for less than 2 months.
In studies using commercial aged garlic, rats who had carcinogen-induced tumors experienced consistent shrinkage of their tumors. This was perhaps a somewhat unexpected garlic health benefit discovered, as aged garlic has relatively little allicin, which was believed to be the main active cancer fighter.
A study in Pennsylvania found that diallyl disulphide, a compound formed when garlic is crushed, was able to shrink tumors by half when it was injected. Another compound in garlic, s-allylcysteine, was discovered to be able to help prevent cancer-causing agents from attaching to human breast cells.
Some studies showed that allyl sulfur and other compounds in garlic inhibit the growth as well as the development of cancerous cells. It is believed that allyl sulfur causes additional stress on fast-dividing cells, thus causing more damage to cancerous cells then to normal and healthy cells.
The compound ajoene in garlic, also formed when it is crushed, had been shown in studies to shrink the tumors of skin cancer sufferers.
Epidemiological studies from as far back as the 1930s showed the garlic health benefit against cancer - people in at least six countries who ate more garlic suffered less from cancer. These countries included China, India, Egypt and Italy.
A China study in the 1980s showed that eating 20g of fresh garlic each day, as compared to just 1g each day in another province, resulted in the rate of cancer in the first group being only 8% of the rate of cancer in the latter group.
A China study on 564 stomach cancer patients and 1131 persons who resided in a high-cancer-incidence area found that eating garlic greatly reduced cancer occurrence; those who consumed more than 64g of garlic each day only had 40% the rate of cancer incidence when compared to those who consumed less than 32g each day.
An important US epidemiological study in the 1990s, the Iowa Women's Health Study, showed the garlic health benefit against cancer. The study looked at 41,387 women who were aged from 55 to 69. Their diets and 5-year colon cancer incidence were studied; in total, 127 different types of foods were looked at. It was found that garlic was the only food which was significantly associated with a drop in the risk of getting colon cancer. Just having one or more servings of fresh or powdered garlic each week lowered the risk of colon cancer by 35%, while the reduction in risk for distal colon cancer was 50%.
Some studies showed that other Allium vegetables, for example onions, also lower cancer risk, although the correlation was not as strong and as consistent as for garlic. It is clear from those studies that the health medicinal benefits of garlic against cancer were superior to the other vegetables.
More proof of garlic health benefits against cancer lie in some epidemiological studies in third world countries, which showed that garlic consumption reduces cancer risk.
Garlic and Diabetes
Studies have shown that allicin in garlic combines with vitamin B1 (thiamine) and, in the process, stimulate the pancreas to begin releasing insulin.
Garlic health benefits, unknown to many, also extend to diabetes.
Garlic and the Immune System
Studies have shown that garlic increases the production of interferon and white blood cells, both important elements of the immune system, in the body.
Garlic benefits the immune system as well.
Garlic the amazing Anti-Microbial Herb
Countless studies have proven the amazing antibacterial, antifungal, anti-parasitic and antiviral properties of garlic. Its effectiveness in killing and destroying harmful microorganisms and microbes is one of the main garlic health benefits.
This is one of the foremost health medicinal benefits of garlic.
A study published in the American Society for Microbiology's Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy explained how allicin, one of the foremost compounds in garlic, fights infection. The study supported the fact that garlic can be used to deal with a very wide array of different infectious organisms. It also showed why it is very unlikely for such organisms to develop resistance to garlic and allicin.
Other Garlic Health Benefits
Garlic has been shown to have antispasmodic properties.
GARLIC AND BLOOD OR CARDIOVASCULAR RELATED CONDITIONS
Garlic and Blood Clots / Clotting
Studies conducted at Germany's Saarland University found that compounds in garlic causes blood clots to dissolve more quickly. They also improve blood fluidity.
Garlic benefits blood clotting and quickens dissolving of clots.
A study in India on 50 persons found that those who consumed 3 cloves of raw garlic per day had a 20% improvement in their blood clotting time as well as their clot dissolving activity.
Garlic and Blood Pressure
Studies showed that garlic contains hydrogen sulfide (H2S), which interacts with human red blood corpuscles. This interaction helps the blood capillaries and vessels to relax, thereby controlling blood pressure.
Its ability to regulate blood pressure is one of the most important and well-proven garlic health benefits.
A study reported in the German journal Planta Medica said that garlic has a small peptide which helps to inhibit the production of a certain hormone that raises blood pressure.
A 1982 study on laboratory rats concluded that "garlic is effective as a natural agent for the treatment of hypertension".
A 1993 study at the Clinical Research Center in New Orleans found that a popular garlic preparation helped to lower blood pressure, with no reported significant side effects.
In mid 2008, a study at Adelaide University in South Australia reviewed 11 previous studies whereby people consumed garlic supplements daily for 3 to 6 months. The study found that garlic significantly lowered levels of blood pressure, with the best results in those who started with the highest blood pressure. Some of the results obtained were said to be as good as those achieved by certain drugs, such as beta blockers.
Garlic and Cholesterol
A study conducted at Munich University in Germany found that people who consumed a low-fat diet experienced a fall in cholesterol levels of about 10%; when garlic was added to their diets, there was a further 10% decrease in cholesterol levels.
Lowering high cholesterol is another well-proven garlic health benefit, although some people might argue otherwise.
A study on 220 people found that those who consumed 800mg of powdered garlic for a period of 4 months had lowered cholesterol levels of 12% and reduced triglyceride levels of 17%. There was no significant drop in the placebo group.
A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a group of people who suffered from heart disease and who were then given garlic oil daily for 10 months had steady drops in LDL cholesterol levels ('bad' cholesterol) as well as steady increases in HDL cholesterol levels ('good' cholesterol).
A study on 261 persons found that those who consumed 800mg of dried garlic for 16 weeks experienced an average drop in cholesterol levels of about 10%. This was despite the fact that the amount of garlic used was relatively little.
Epidemiological studies show that, in countries where the people consumed more garlic, there were lower rates of heart disease; heart disease is linked to high cholesterol because excess saturated fats and cholesterol clog up the arteries.
A 1998 study by Penn State nutrition researchers showed that there were 3 water-soluble, sulfur-containing compounds in garlic (termed S-allyl cysteine, S-ethyl-cysteine and S-propyl cysteine) which lowered the production of cholesterol by liver cells by between 40% and 60%. The same study found that there was another group of water-soluble compounds (these are glutamate derivatives of S-alk(en)yl cysteines) which lowered cholesterol production by between 20% and 35%.
Studies have shown that garlic prevents the oxidization of cholesterol in the blood.
Various studies conducted from as far back as the 1920s showed that garlic consumption lowered cholesterol levels. However, the dosages for those studies can be considered relatively high - the persons studied were said to have eaten between 7 and 28 cloves of garlic daily.
Various studies in the 1980s and 1990s showed that garlic consumption lowered cholesterol levels, although it must be added that many of these studies were criticized for having investigated too few people.
A study in 2007 found that raw garlic, as well as two popular garlic supplements, Garlicin and Kyolic, did not have any effect on cholesterol levels. The study concluded that "none of the forms of garlic used in this study, including raw garlic, when given at an approximate dose of a 4-g clove per day, 6 d/wk for 6 months, had statistically or clinically significant effects on LDL-C or other plasma lipid concentrations in adults with moderate hypercholesterolemia". (LDL-C is low density lipoprotein cholesterol, or 'bad' cholesterol.) Although the results of this particular study were negative, however, we must note that the amount of garlic used in this study was very small. Personally, I do not feel that this study is enough to disprove the well-known garlic health benefit against high cholesterol.
How might the garlic health benefits on cholesterol actually work? A study reported in the American Society for Microbiology's Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy found that allicin in garlic works against harmful organisms by disabling enzymes in them - this is done by reacting with sulfhydryl (SH) groups, or thiols, which is an important part of the enzymes. The thing is, these sulfhydryl groups are also important parts of some enzymes which have a role in synthesizing cholesterol in the body. This piece of research could thus give us a possible explanation of the mechanism by which allicin in garlic lowers cholesterol levels.
Garlic and Heart Health
Studies have linked the compounds in garlic to relaxing and enlarging blood vessels, preventing coronary artery calcification, decreasing platelet aggregation, thinning the blood, and preventing the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. All these benefits of garlic directly contribute to heart health.
It is believed that there are strong garlic health benefits on heart health.
A study in India's Tagore Medical College found that regular consumption of garlic keeps arteries in good health and aids in reducing the degree of blockage of arteries. In the study, 432 people who ate garlic for 3 years experienced falls in blood pressure of about 10%; they also had less angina. The number of deaths fell by 50% in the second year and 66% in the third year. On the flip side, those who did not eat garlic had no significant improvement.
A study published in Biochimica Biophysica Acta found a particular molecular mechanism by which the compound allicin blocks certain groups of enzymes - this probably helps to prevent heart disease and other ailments.
Epidemiological studies showed that people who ate more garlic had lower rates of getting heart disease.
Conclusion on Garlic Health Benefits
These studies and research proving the many garlic health benefits are really just the tip of the iceberg - there are many more out there. But from these studies alone, together with traditional wisdom, a couple of things are clear - garlic cures and treats many conditions, and there are numerous medicinal properties of garlic which we can enjoy with regular consumption of the herb.
Start obtaining the many garlic health benefits today!
Garlic Pages | Summary Article | Health Benefits of Garlic | Information | History and Facts of Garlic | Planting, Harvesting, Storing and Preserving Garlic | Eating Garlic | How to Make Garlic Butter - a simple garlic butter recipe | An Easy Garlic Bread Recipe - Making Homemade Garlic Bread | Consuming the Garlic Plant - various ways to do so | Benefits | An Overview of Health Medicinal Benefits of Garlic | Garlic Health Benefits - Some Research and Studies | Garlic for Acne Treatment | Garlic and Blood Pressure | Garlic and Cancer - Is Garlic Anti Cancer? | Garlic to Lower Cholesterol | Garlic for Heart Health | Medicinal Properties of Garlic against Microbes, Harmful Organisms, Bacteria, Fungi, Parasites and Viruses | Side Effects | Possible Garlic Side Effects, Caution and Contraindications
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