Garlic is Delicious and May Yield Medicinal Benefits
Nicola Menke, dpa
Posted Aug 23, 2012
Berlin (dpa) - Garlic can ward off vampires, according to an old
superstition. Modern science also ascribes protective powers to the
pungent bulb -- against health problems.
"Garlic was cited as a remedy in ancient Egyptian writings as far
back as 1550 BC, and it's regarded to this day as a prophylactic
agent and remedy for many illnesses," noted Margret Morlo, a member
of Germany's Nutrition and Dietetics Association.
Garlic owes its medicinal powers to its components. It contains
many vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B and C as well as
potassium and selenium. It also has a number of beneficial
phytochemicals, such as polyphenols and sulfides, and a comparatively
high content of adenosine, a biochemical compound important for cell
"Since garlic is usually consumed in small amounts, not all of its
health-promoting components carry weight," remarked Stefan Weigt, a
member of Germany's Independent Health Advice Association. So it is
with its vitamins and minerals, he said. To meet the daily
requirement of vitamin C, for instance, a person would have to
consume nearly 800 grams of garlic.
"It's a totally different matter as regards phytochemicals,
though. Here the bulb is really outstanding -- especially with
sulphides," Weigt said.
Sulphides are sulphur-containing compounds that "can have a
beneficial effect on health in many ways. They're antimicrobial and
anti-inflammatory" and thus help to guard against or fight infectious
diseases, said Antje Gahl, a nutritionist at the German Nutrition
Studies by the University of Arizona in the United States have
shown this to be true in the case of colds. According to studies by
the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, garlic can help
prevent periodontitis and other diseases of the mucous membrane of
The sulphides in garlic have positive effects on the
cardiovascular system, too. "It's been proven that they lower the
levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood -- blood fat
levels," Morlo said.
A team at the National Cardiological Research Centre in Moscow
found a 7.6 per cent drop in total cholesterol in 42 test subjects
after 12 weeks of garlic therapy. This means regular consumption of
garlic may help prevent atherosclerosis -- a narrowing of the
arteries due to a buildup of fats and cholesterol -- "and therefore
cardiovascular disorders like blood clots, strokes and heart
attacks," Weigt added. Some studies have not confirmed garlic's
cardiovascular powers, however.
"Garlic is also said to help inhibit cell damage and the
development of tumour cells thanks to the antioxidant effects of its
phytochemicals," Gahl noted. Antioxidants have the ability to
neutralize free radicals, which are atoms or groups of atoms that
attack cells and can cause them to degenerate.
"There's not complete certainly on this," she pointed out. "But an
analysis of animal tests and statistical surveys suggests that garlic
lowers the risk of cancer." This has been virtually proven in the
case of stomach and intestinal cancer, she said.
To get garlic's health benefits, "it's extremely important to
consume it regularly, preferably every day," Morlo said.
Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH