Unlock the bulb: Garlic is more than just a pungent condiment

  • Soumya Vajpayee Tiwari, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 14, 2015 17:16 IST

Greek scientist and the father of western medicine Hippocrates once said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." Traditionally, garlic is referred to as the stinking rose, and people often avoid eating it as it's considered tamasic. (In Ayurveda, food items that are thought to promote laziness and criminal tendencies are considered tamasic). But the truth is that garlic is more than just a spicy, pungent condiment. It is loaded with medicinal and nutritional properties.

This National Garlic Month (April), we give you a low-down on the benefits of the bulbous plant.

*Helps reduce weight: Don't have the time to hit the gym? Eating a few cloves of garlic may help. It stimulates the digestive enzymes that contribute to weight loss. The fat in the ingested foods can be efficiently processed and eliminated from the body. Also, eating garlic reduces hunger pangs as it's an appetite suppressant. It also improves your body's metabolism rate by stimulating the nervous system to release more adrenalin, which, in turn, helps you burn more calories.

*Good for the blood:The red blood cells in your body convert the sulphides in garlic into a gas known as hydrogen sulphide. This gas helps control blood pressure. Experts say consuming 200 mg to 400 mg of garlic extract thrice a day for a month, keeps the blood pressure level in check.

*Protects the skin: If acne, pimples or blemishes trouble you, or you want glowing skin, crush two cloves of raw garlic and gulp them down every day with warm water early in the morning. Garlic is a blood cleanser and cleans the body internally. Also, if you have wrinkles, using three cloves of garlic can help protect your body against hazardous free radicals.

*Antibacterial, antiviral: Research suggests that fresh garlic juice helps fight bacterial infections as it exhibits antibiotic properties. Garlic also helps control viral and fungal infections. Its daily consumption might also reduce the frequency of colds while its antibacterial properties help treat throat irritations and respiratory tract infections. Garlic is also considered an important medicine to treat bronchitis.

*Helps the liver: The allicin and selenium chemicals in garlic enhance the production of bile (a fluid produced by the liver, which aids digestion) that helps treat the Fatty Liver Disease (FLD). Also, garlic has antioxidant properties that keep the toxic substances that are filtered by your liver from reaching other organs. Research suggests that fresh garlic contains amino acids and proteins that help protect the liver from natural and environmental toxins.

*Pain relief: Garlic has an anti-arthritic property that helps reduce pain in the body. Though it is irritating to the gums, it is known to help relieve toothaches due to its antibacterial and analgesic properties.
- With inputs from Indrayani Pawar, team leader dietician, Hinduja Healthcare Surgical, Khar.

*Protects your heart: Eating garlic regularly will keep you protected against cardiovascular problems. Garlic's anti-clotting properties help prevent the formation of blood clots in the body, keeping heart problems at bay. So, if you can't consume it raw, include it in your meals.

*Reduces blood sugar: A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggests that garlic increases the amount of insulin released in the body and improves glucose tolerance. Crush two pods of garlic and swallow them with a glass of warm water.

*Reduces cholesterol: Research suggests that eating garlic can help reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) in the body by 6 to 10%. The chemicals present in garlic have the ability to reduce arterial plaque formation.

*Good for your sex life: Not many know that garlic has aphrodisiac properties. It normalises the blood flow to sexual organs, thus resulting in a better erection for men. It's also known to intensify an orgasm.

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