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Garlic

By
Lynne Brown
BSc Hons, HDE, Dip Clin Nutr

Where to begin? There is an almost inexhaustible list of ailments that this super-food can help to alleviate and in this short space I can only mention a few of its amazing benefits. More than 500 major studies have been performed on garlic in recent years, however way back in ancient times garlic was already appreciated as a healing food.

Heart benefits

From the vast body of research, scientists now know that allicin, a chemical that forms when garlic is crushed, reduces LDL cholesterol and prevents oxidation thereof, raises HDL cholesterol and protects against hardening of the arteries. Studies show that just one clove of raw garlic eaten daily can lower total cholesterol. Its certainly worth a try.
A very powerful effect of garlic is its blood pressure lowering ability. It does this through the actions of one of its components, methyl allyl trisuphide, which dilates blood vessels. It thins the blood by inhibiting platelet aggregation, which reduces the risk of blood clots and aids in preventing heart attacks and strokes.

Cancer benefits

Another compound in garlic, called diallyl sulphide, has been shown in animal studies, to inactivate potent cancer-causing substances. It also suppresses the growth of tumors. The Iowa Women’s Study of 41 837 women in 1994 found that those who ate garlic frequently were 30% less likely to develop colon cancer. Another study done at Pennysylvania State University found that garlic inhibits breast cancer cell formation.
Used by Hippocrates all those years ago to treat cervical cancer, today the American Cancer Institute rates garlic as one of the best cancer-preventing foods.

Anti-bacterial and fungal

The allicin in garlic is also an anti-microbial agent and that’s why candida simply hates garlic. Some women have found that eating a clove of garlic a day helps prevent yeast infections. Garlic is also effective against other fungal infections such as athlete’s foot.
Because of its antibiotic properties, garlic was used to treat wounds and infections and to prevent gangrene during World War 1.

It is also excellent for intestinal health, where in the presence of garlic, disease-causing microbes are eliminated. The sulphur compounds in garlic are the secret weapons that knock out dangerous bacteria and may even prevent ulcers by inhibiting the growth of Helicobacter pylori, the ulcer-causing bacterium.

Fight off colds

Long championed by garlic-lovers for fighting off colds, garlic is gaining new respect amongst researchers who have seen that, in laboratory animals, garlic actually protects them from flu viruses while boosting their production of immune system antibodies, and that people who eat garlic for three weeks also have enhanced immune system activity.

How to eat it

Scientists still don’t know whether garlic has more health benefits when it is crushed and cooked or chopped and added raw to foods. I believe any form of garlic is effective in lowering cholesterol and improving circulation and I also maintain there is no such thing as “a little garlic”!  Be lavish with it, add lots of it to stir fries, stews, curries and pasta sauces. Eat it raw if you can. Squeeze a garlic clove into your olive oil salad dressing.

Supplements

If you cannot tolerate the taste of garlic and are worried about “garlic breath” putting a strain on your social life, there is a wonderful supplement called Bear Paw GarlicTM which comes from Allium ursinum, a species of garlic that grows wild in central Europe. Unlike the domesticated garlic, the leaves, not the bulbs, are used. It has huge advantages over normal garlic as it contains a lot more of the active substances as well as active substances not found in the cultivated garlic. A huge added bonus: it is odourless upon digestion!  When someone comes to me wanting to take just one affordable supplement, this is the one I give them. The health benefits are enormous.

Disclaimer: All information here is for educational purposes only and is not meant to cure, heal, diagnose nor treat. This information must not be used as a replacement for medical advice, nor can the writer take any responsibility for anyone using the information instead of consulting a healthcare professional.  All serious disease needs a physician.

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