Taking Garlic for Your Health

Garlic, whether fresh or in the form of a supplement, can be beneficial for an entire host of health issues. Garlic gives you a good "triple-punch," in that it is antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal all wrapped up in a pungent package. Although fresh garlic offers optimal health benefits, many people aren't fond of the smell. If you don't mind garlic's odor, then a single medium-sized clove is generally recommended per day.

How Does Garlic Affect My Health?

The chemical in garlic, allicin, which gives it the distinctive flavor is a powerful cancer-fighting agent. The natural chemical reaction which occurs when you eat garlic is thought to form the allicin and invade and decimate tumor cells. Garlic is also well-known to have beneficial effects on your heart, effectively lowering your total cholesterol, the LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, and your blood pressure all at once.

Eating garlic or taking garlic supplements can also thin your blood, reducing your risk of stroke or dangerous blood clots. Garlic has even been shown to lower levels of homocysteine which is an amino acid produced by the body, usually in those who eat an overabundance of red meat. Elevated levels of homocysteine are known to cause an increased risk of heart attack, not to mention clogging of the arteries and the formation of blood clots. Garlic can balance your blood sugar, assist in fat metabolism, help digestive conditions, and has even been known to provide relief from rheumatoid arthritis. In clinical trials, the blood pressure of volunteers dropped from 1-5% shortly after taking a garlic supplement, and remained lower. While this may not sound huge, even such a small reduction in blood pressure can reduce your overall chance of a stroke by over thirty percent.

Garlic's Other Benefits

Garlic works something like a broad-spectrum antibiotic in your body, however unlike prescription antibiotics your body will not build up a resistance. In fact, garlic has at least 1% of the potency of penicillin and can ward off such nasty bacteria as salmonella, E.coli, Candida and Staphylococcus. The antibiotic effects of garlic were noted in the 19th century when the English priests caught a very infectious fever, however the French priests who were avid consumers of garlic, avoided the fever entirely.

Garlic can fight fungal infections in your body, such as yeast infections. Because garlic is full of vitamin C, taking extra garlic during a cold can help shorten the severity and duration. Phytochemicals in garlic are well-known to offer anti-inflammatory properties and is an excellent antioxidant, helping your body fight free radicals which can damage your DNA. If your skin seems especially appealing to mosquitos, ticks and other nasty bugs, taking a daily garlic supplement or eating garlic daily can mean far fewer bites. Garlic has even been shown to provide some level of barrier against nicotine's ravages, so while you should not smoke for your overall health, if you do, taking garlic may help.

Nutritional Content of Garlic

Garlic is a real nutritional powerhouse which includes enzymes, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C, bioflavonoids and a wide range of sulfur containing compounds, meaning that taking a daily dose of garlic can only improve your overall health.

Choosing a Garlic Supplement

It's very important to choose a high-quality garlic supplement, preferably with an enteric coating which controls the location in the digestive system where it will be absorbed. This coating also helps prevent the acids in the stomach from destroying some of the health benefits of allicin. Garlic oil supplements are made by distilling the fresh garlic then diluting the oil and placing it in a capsule, which, unfortunately, destroys much of the allicin.

Final Words about Garlic

Garlic is at its most effective when it is eaten raw, crushed or chopped; one clove per day for overall health, 2-3 cloves when you feel a cold coming on. Don't overdo it with the raw garlic, as it can irritate your stomach. Microwaving kills the beneficial ingredients in garlic. Finally, don't take garlic if you currently take Coumadin or Warfarin for blood-thinning, as it can increase their effectiveness to the dangerous level.

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