Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Potent Power of Garlic

It adds flavor to your meals and health benefits to your diet. Garlic has been used throughout history to protect individuals from the plague, prevent gangrene in soldiers, and as an antiseptic for infection.  What do you need to know about the potent plant known as garlic? Can it help keep you and your family healthy?

Garlic basics:

1. Known as the “stinking rose,” garlic is made up of a head or bulb.
2. Each section within that bulb is called a clove.
3. Approximately 10-20 cloves are in each bulb.
4. Plants grow up to 2 feet tall. Garlic can be grown at home; it’s also readily available at grocery stores.

What are the health benefits of garlic?

Throughout history garlic has been cited for everything from inhibiting tumors and decreasing the risk of certain cancers to helping individuals prevent colds and battle viruses. Here are a few of the conditions garlic is most often used to prevent and treat:

Heart disease. Check out this study for more information.

Other uses include:

Mosquito repellent
Headache prevention
Gel to treat skin conditions such as ringworm and athlete’s foot

How does garlic help you stay healthy?

According to studies, garlic is most beneficial in its raw state. Some experts suggest crushing the garlic produces allicin, a natural, broad-spectrum antibiotic; others believe slicing a clove before consumption produces the most benefits. Other chemicals in garlic, including some sulfur-containing compounds, may help fight heart disease, prevent some cancers, and help keep your immune system functioning properly.

What vitamins and minerals does garlic contain?

Vitamin C
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B1

What are some ideas for cooking with garlic?

Garlic can be added to salads, dressings, soups, marinara sauces, and pasta dishes.
Check out this recipe for garlic bread.

*Crushed or sliced raw garlic is preferred for maximum health benefits.  However, crushing or slicing garlic and allowing it to stand for 10 minutes before cooking it helps preserve more of the nutritional value.

Who should be cautious about taking garlic?

Individuals with ulcers or thyroid problems.
Those taking blood-thinning medications.

Always consult your doctor or healthcare provider before taking garlic in any form.

What are possible interactions?

Isoniazid (Nydrazid): Garlic may lower the effectiveness of this medication, which is used to treat tuberculosis (TB).
Birth control pills: Garlic may make this form of contraception less effective.
Blood-thinning medications. Medications such as Coumadin, Plavix, and aspirin are blood-thinning medications. Garlic may make these medications stronger, which could increase the risk of bleeding.
Medications for HIB/AIDS. Called protease inhibitors, garlic may lower the blood levels of these medications, making the drugs less effective.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Advil, Motrin, and Aleve, as well as prescription medications, may increase the risk of bleeding.

What about garlic supplements?

The reviews are mixed regarding the benefits of supplements over raw or cooked garlic, according to this study. However, most experts argue that aside from those who should be cautious about taking garlic, you can’t go wrong by adding some form of garlic to your diet.

Find unique ways to supplement your family’s diet with garlic, and reap the health benefits associated with the stinking rose. Do you have a special recipe or home remedy that utilizes garlic?  Feel free to share!

Live Healthy. Live Smart

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