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Health Benefits Of Garlic

Garlic is the edible bulb from a plant in the lily family. It has been used as both a medicine and a spice for thousands of years.This wonderful herbal plant, grown for its underground root or bulb, contains numerous health promoting phytonutrients that has proven benefits against coronary artery diseases, infections, and cancers.

The herb plant belongs to the family of
Alliaceae, in the genus, Allium ; and scientifically known as Allium sativum . It is believed to be originating in the mountainous Central Asian region, from where it spread all over the temperate and subtropical regions in the world.

Garlic (Allium sativum) is a perennial herb but is grown as an annual crop. The methods applied for its cultivation are similar to those of growing onions. The completely grown plant reaches about 50 to 60 cm in height and bears underground bulbous root containing about 8-20 bulbs known as cloves. The whole bulb itself is encased within several layers of white or mauve-tinged, papery-thin coverings.

 Garlic cloves can be eaten raw or cooked. They may also be dried or powdered and used in tablets and capsules. Raw garlic cloves can be used to make oils and liquid extracts.

Garlic Can Be Quite Useful In The Following Areas
Allergies
Antioxidants
Blood cholesterol
Blood sugar
Boosts the immune system
Breast cancer
Chronic bronchitis
Cold and flu
Colon cancer
Coughs
Diabetes
High cholesterol
Low energy
Parasites
Poor digestion
Respiratory problems
Stomach
Tooth aches

Health benefits of Garlic
Strong flavored, garlic cloves contain many unique phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants that have proven health benefits. Total measured antioxidant strength (ORAC value) is 5346 ┬Ámol TE/100 g.
Its bulbs contain organic thiosulfinate compounds such as diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide and allyl propyl disulfide . Upon disruption of the bulb (while crushing, cutting, etc.), these compounds convert into
allicin through an enzymatic reaction.

Laboratory studies show that allicin reduces cholesterol production by inhibiting the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme within the liver cells.
Allicin decreases blood vessel stiffness through the facilitation of nitric oxide (NO) release. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels and thereby, bring a reduction in the total blood pressure. 

Further, it blocks platelet clot formation and has fibrinolytic action inside the blood vessels. This function of allicin helps decrease the overall risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD), and stroke.

Research studies also suggest that consumption of garlic is associated with a possible decrease in the incidence of stomach cancer.
Allicin and other essential volatile compounds have also been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal activities.

Garlic is an excellent source of minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. The bulbs are one of the richest sources of potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and selenium. Selenium is a heart-healthy mineral and is an essential cofactor for antioxidant enzymes within the body. The human body uses manganese as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase . Iron is essential for red blood cell formation.

It contains many flavonoid antioxidants like ╬▓ - carotene, zeaxanthin, and vitamins like vitamin-C. Vitamin-C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.

Garlic cloves have amazingly high levels of vitamins and minerals. Just 100 g provides (in % of recommended daily allowance):
95% of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine),
52% of vitamin C,
33% of copper,
21% of iron,
18% of calcium,
26% Selenium, and
73% of manganese
Garlic herb has been in use for a long time in many traditional Indian and Chinese medicines as a remedy for cold, cough, bronchitis, etc.

Garlic oil has been used as a local applicant for "ringworm" (fungal dermatitis) infection of the skin.

In the modern medicine, this exotic herb advocated as health benefiting food for its anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and immune boosting and cholesterol-lowering properties.

Selection and storage
Garlic bulbs harvested when its lower leaves turn yellow and showing signs of dryness. Later, the bulbs are air dried in the shade for few weeks before sold in the market.
In the store, several forms of garlic are found; whole bulbs, dried, individual cloves, processed cloves, dry-powder, or paste.
Dry bare bulbs can be stored at room temperature placed in a cold dark environment away from humidity where they stay in good condition for several weeks. Garlic paste, however, should be stored in the refrigerator.


Undesirable effects
The sulfide compounds in the garlic metabolized to allyl methyl sulfide, which is excreted through sweat and breathe producing unpleasant odor and breath (halitosis).Other undesirable effects include heartburn, upset stomach, and allergic reactions. These side effects are more common with raw garlic

Safety profile
Its cloves contain allicin that acts as a blood thinner. It is, therefore, advised to avoid in patients on anticoagulants like warfarin as the resultant combination might cause excessive bleeding.
Garlic-in-oil, as in the pickle preparations, favors the growth of Clostridium botulism , which may result in a condition known as
botulism (paralysis of the nervous system). It is, therefore, advised that garlic preparations should be preserved inside the refrigerator and should be used as quickly as possible.