Garlic becomes popular especially in the fall and winter, when we catch infections more often than usual. To what does it have its pro-health properties? How to eat garlic – raw, or maybe in the form of silage? Together with our dietitian, we explain the power of garlic!

Active ingredients of garlic

Garlic (Alliumsativum L. fam. Alliaceae) is one of the best researched and best selling herbal products on the market. For centuries it has been used as a traditional medicine for most health-related conditions. It is also widely used as a food ingredient – spice and aphrodisiac. The properties of garlic result from the combination of various biologically active substances, which together are responsible for its healing effects. The compounds contained in garlic work synergistically with each other, so they can have different effects. The active ingredients in garlic are enzymes (e.g. alliinase), sulfur-containing compounds such as alliin, and compounds produced enzymatically from allia (e.g. allicin).

Vitamins in garlic

Fresh cloves of garlic mainly consist of water, carbohydrates and proteins, they also contain vitamins, among which we can find the most Vitamin C and B vitamins. Among the numerous minerals, the content deserves attention potassium, phosphorus, iron, selenium and manganese. The garlic cloves are also included antioxidant compounds such as flavonoids and phenolic acids, and most of all, organic sulfur compounds, such as allicin, which gives the cloves a characteristic, pungent smell and determines most of its health-promoting properties.

Properties of garlic

  1. Anti-inflammatory properties

Thanks to the anti-inflammatory compounds contained in garlic, it is used as a support for our immune system. We owe these properties to a substance called alliin, which is found throughout the plant. Its greatest amount is found in the cloves. When the garlic is crushed, alliin turns into allicin, which contains the sulfur. Therefore, only when we eat garlic, we can feel its characteristic smell and taste. However, allicin is unstable and rapidly converts to other sulfur compounds that give garlic its healing properties. These compounds have been shown to enhance the response of certain types of white blood cells and stimulate them to fight viruses, including those that cause colds and the flu.

  1. Antiviral properties

The studies conducted so far have shown that garlic has antiviral properties and has positive effects in the fight against diseases such as influenza A and B. Moreover, it prevents cytomegalovirus, HIV, herpes and viral pneumonia. The antiviral component of garlic is ajoene, which is a derivative of allicin.

  1. Antifungal properties

The antifungal properties of garlic have been confirmed by tests on such fungi species as Candida torulopsis, Tripchophyton, Cryptococcus, Aspergillus, Trichosporon and Rhotodorula. The results of the research have shown that garlic extracts containing allicin in their composition show a much better antifungal activity compared to extracts from which allicin has been eliminated. Therefore, this clearly proves that it is allicin that is the component of garlic that is fungicidal.

  1. Positive effect on the circulatory system

Garlic has a positive effect on the body, especially on the circulatory system. By using a number of mechanisms, garlic inhibits the aggregation of platelets, regulates muscle tone, has an antioxidant effect, thus preventing the development of atherosclerosis, thrombosis and arterial hypertension. It has also been shown to reduce cholesterol.

  1. Lowering blood glucose levels

The analysis of many scientific studies has shown that consuming garlic can lower blood glucose by as much as 10.90-21.02 mg / dl.

It has also been reported that the use of garlic may contribute to a reduction in the level of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), a parameter that allows the assessment of blood glucose levels over a longer period of time.

Garlic’s hypoglycemic effect was found when garlic was consumed at the level of 600-1200 mg (0.6-1.2 g) per day.

  1. Anticancer properties

The results of numerous epidemiological studies show a relationship between high garlic consumption and a reduced incidence of cancer. A meta-analysis of eighteen research papers proved that high consumption of garlic, both in raw form and after thermal treatment, may be associated with a protective effect against the occurrence of stomach and colon cancer. Subsequent studies focusing on the link between the consumption of garlic or supplements containing garlic extracts and the risk of cancer have shown that garlic is preventive against cancers of the kidneys, ovary, prostate, esophagus, larynx and oral cavity.

  1. Garlic a natural antibiotic?

Garlic compounds show strong antimicrobial properties, which include bacteria (Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Salmonella, Escherichia, Klebsiella, Proteus, Helicobacter, Mycobacterium, Clostridium). Garlic owes this effect also to allicin, which is a key biologically active ingredient responsible for a broad spectrum of antibacterial and antifungal activity.

In addition, garlic increases the body’s defenses by strengthening and regulating the cellular responses of the immune system. Due to its composition, it can be referred to as a natural antibiotic. Garlic also has a preventive and healing effect in lead poisoning. Before antibiotics appeared, garlic was used before many infectious diseases became ill.

      How To Eat Garlic?

  1. Raw

The most health benefits can be obtained by eating garlic raw, which is not always practiced because of its specific smell. One clove of garlic (about 4 g) should be consumed per day. Excessive consumption of common garlic leads to side effects such as heartburn and gas. Consumption of more than four cloves a day leads to gastrointestinal disturbances, including gastrointestinal cramps and gas.

Contact dermatitis may occur from skin contact with fresh garlic cloves!

  1. In a pickled form

If you’re wondering how to eat garlic because you don’t like the raw version, try the pickled one.

Ensiling is a food modification that breaks down simple sugars into lactic acid. This creates ideal conditions for the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria and prevents the growth of putrefying bacteria. Such a change in the intestinal microflora has a positive effect on immunity. Therefore, by consuming pickled garlic, in addition to its health-promoting properties mentioned above, we gain the health of our intestines. Pickled garlic can be prepared at home or purchased in health food stores.

  1. Garlic in the form of dietary supplements

Tablets and capsules contain all the nutritional and healing properties contained in garlic, and their consumption does not cause an unpleasant smell. Garlic preparations can also be found in the form of syrups and oils. However, it should be remembered that such preparations should be standardized, with a known content of active ingredients. Such a dietary supplement should contain a daily dose of alliin in the amount of 6-10 mg, which corresponds to 3-5 mg of allicin (this is what two cloves of garlic usually contain).

! When supplementing with garlic, it should be remembered that when taken with antipyretics (e.g. paracetamol), it may increase the risk of liver dysfunction.

There is a risk of bleeding when garlic and anticoagulants (e.g. warfarin) are taken at the same time.

Nursing women should also be careful about garlic, as the sulfur compounds contained in garlic may get into the milk.

A contraindication to taking garlic is an allergy, as well as planned surgical procedures.

  1. Garlic butter

An easy way to “smuggle” more garlic into your daily diet is to make garlic butter. We only need a few minutes to prepare a super-tasty garlic butter that can be used in the kitchen in many ways and for many dishes.

We need:

The real butter is taken out of the fridge beforehand, so that it becomes soft and combines with other ingredients more easily. Peel the garlic cloves and squeeze them through the press. Add to the butter with a small amount of salt and your favorite herbs (e.g. oregano, basil, marjoram, chili). And the garlic butter is ready to use. If we want the butter for later, we can wrap it in cling film or baking paper (wrap it in a roll), put it in the fridge to cool again. Garlic butter is perfect for oven-baked baguettes, it also works well as an addition to cream soups and roasted meat and fish dishes.

Garlic for colds

When the flu season is in full swing, it is worth taking care of your health prophylactically using natural antibiotics. Many people confirm their effectiveness. Below you will find a recipe for a natural alcohol-free tincture with garlic, which – as confirmed by scientific research – has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Thanks to the combination with honey and lemon, it will not smell unpleasant after taking it.

Garlic with honey

Ingredients

Preparation

Garlic should be peeled and crushed with a press, add lemon juice, honey and boiled water. Then blend everything together, pour it into a jar and screw it on. Set aside in a dark and cool place for about 48 hours. After this time, strain the mixture through gauze, and pour the obtained tincture into a screw-top jar and store in the refrigerator. If we want to drink the tincture, after taking it out of the refrigerator, we can add a little warm water so as not to drink cold liquid. In order to strengthen immunity, it is recommended to consume about 2 tablespoons of the tincture a day.