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Discover the Magical Health Benefits of Garlic

Updated on July 31, 2013

Introducing Garlic: A wonder spice

Garlic is scientifically known as Allium sativum and is used both as food, typically as a spice, and medicine. It is a natural cure for many infections, cardiovascular problems and diabetes. The use of garlic can be dated back to the time of Egyptian pyramids. Recent research has also shown the potent action of garlic in deadly disease like cancer. It is rich in antioxidants and its regular consumption, in moderate quantities, reduces the risk of cancer.

Nutritional Value of Garlic

  • Consumption of garlic adds to less number of calories and it is rich in some vital vitamins and minerals like pyridoxine (vitamin B6), vitamin C, vitamin B1, copper, manganese, selenium, calcium and phosphorus.
  • A daily consumption of 100 gm of garlic fulfills the dietary requirement of all major nutrients within our body.
  • Garlic is rich in sulfur-containing compounds like thiosulfinates, sulfoxides and dithiins. These compounds are responsible for the number of health benefits associated with garlic.


How does garlic help the body fight against cancer?

  • The anti-carcinogenic property of garlic is largely related to the presence of organosulfur compounds like - Diallyl sulfide. The strong taste and odor of garlic is due to Diallyl sulfide which has the potency to both inhibit and induce the P-450 enzymes selectively. Flavonoids present in garlic stimulate the antioxidant properties. Its consumption has shown most effective results in case of renal cell and colorectal cancers. In fact, it shows beneficiary effect in almost all kinds of cancers, except prostate and breast cancers [1].
  • Allicin derived from garlic stimulates the process of apoptosis and hence anti-tumoral activity in Lymphoma-bearing mice. The process of apoptosis was stimulated by the increased caspase-3 activity [2].
  • Nitrobenzene is an organic chemical which is considered to be carcinogenic to human beings. It is used in pesticides, dyes, rubber etc. This chemical has the potential to damage DNA. Garlic squeeze can control this chemical-induced cancer [3].
  • A regular consumption of allium vegetables including garlic, onions and leeks reduces the risk of gastric cancer [4].

Three Wonderful Plant Foods

Three Wonderful Plant Foods
Three Wonderful Plant Foods | Source

Some More Health Benefits of Garlic

  • Garlic stimulates hypoglycemic effects in Type II diabetes patients.
  • When administered along with anti-diabetic medicines like Metformin, it decreases the levels of blood sugar and bad cholesterol (LDL and triglycerides). In addition, the levels of HDL (good cholesterol) are increased significantly [5]. This makes garlic the best dietary substance for diabetics and cardiovascular patients.
  • The reactive oxygen species and free radicals generated within our body damage the inner lining of the blood vessels. Allyl polysulfides present in garlic control this damage caused by the oxidative stress.
  • High levels of vitamin B6 reduce the levels of homocysteine which damage the blood vessels. The anti-inflammatory properties of garlic also help the respiratory and musculoskeletal system. Its consumption is advised to patients suffering from arthritis and asthma.
  • The antibacterial properties of garlic are noticed by its potent action against Helicobacter pylori, which causes ulcers in the stomach [6].

The Best Way to Include Garlic in Our Diet

It is recommended to include at least one serving of allium vegetables in our diet daily. It is good to consume garlic in the raw form, either chopped or pressed, to get the optimum health benefits. The process of chopping favors the enzymatic conversion of alliin into allicin. People who eat rice as a staple food can leave 1or 2 cloves of chopped garlic on the cooked rice for few minutes and later consume them. If one cannot tolerate the strong odor of garlic, they can add them to curries at the end of cooking so that the nutritive value is preserved. It is always advisable to take garlic cloves in the chopped form rather than consuming them as a whole. Moreover, it is good to leave the chopped garlic cloves for a span of 10 minutes before subjecting to boiling or cooking. This enhances the beneficial properties of alliinase enzyme.


1. Kaschula CH, et al. Onion and garlic use and human cancer. Am J Clin Nutr, 2006 Nov, 84(5), 1027-32. PMID: 17093154.

2. Padilla-Camberos E, et al. Antitumoral activity of allicin in murine lymphoma L5178Y. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev, 2010, 11(5), 1241-4. PMID: 21198270.

3. Li H, et al. Inhibition of nitrobenzene-induced DNA and hemoglobin adductions by dietary constituents. Appl Radiat Isot, 2003 Mar, 58(3), 291-8. PMID: 12595006.

4. Zhou Y, et al. Consumption of large amounts of Allium vegetables reduces risk for gastric cancer in a meta-analysis. Gastroenterology, 2011 Jul, 141(1), 80-9. PMID: 21473867.

5. Ashraf R, et al. Garlic (Allium sativum) supplementation with standard antidiabetic agent provides better diabetic control in type 2 diabetes patients. Pak J Pharm Sci, 2011 Oct, 24(4), 565-70.

6. Koçkar C, et al. Helicobacter pylori eradication with beta carotene, ascorbic acid and allicin. Acta Medica (Hradec Kralove), 2001, 44(3), 97-100. PMID: 11811084.


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    • purnasrinivas profile image

      purnasrinivas 3 years ago from Bangalore

      Thank you, DDE, for going through my hub.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Garlic is one of my favorite spices eaten fresh finely chopped with my meal. Great hub about one of the oldest herb.