If you're a keen cook, it's likely you use garlic to punch up the flavour of your dishes on a regular basis. It's a common store cupboard staple – but better than that, it can have some great health benefits too! Historically garlic has been hailed for its medicinal properties – but in recent years the science has backed this up!
The active compound in garlic is called allicin and this is formed when a garlic clove is crushed or chopped. Research has shown supplementation with an allicin containing garlic capsule can prevent and reduce symptoms of a common cold. But it's important to recognise that the same level of effects may not be seen by eating garlic cloves, as the level of allicin consumed would be far less.
Garlic supplementation has been shown to moderately reduce blood pressure in those with hypertension – as well as reducing oxidative stress to cells. It therefore has a cardio-protective effect. Again these findings were through supplementation – we would need to eat approximately 5 garlic gloves to get the same dose of allicin!
Studies with humans have also found garlic supplementation can significantly reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in people with raised cholesterol. The effects are seen after 1 month of supplementation with a garlic capsule.
A study with subjects suffering with coronary artery disease found supplementation with garlic oil reduced heart rate during exercise – suggesting less stress was being put on the cardiovascular system. Animal studies have also suggested garlic supplementation may reduce post exercise fatigue – but human studies are needed to support these findings.
Get garlic into your dishes as often as you can for its great health benefits! Or consider taking a supplement which research has shown has even more significant effects.
It's true eating a lot of garlic can have a somewhat unpleasant effect on our breath! But try eating it with these natural garlic breath fighters to alleviate the side effects.
Nutritionist Emma Brown, MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.