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Garlic the Great

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Garlic the Great

Garlic is powerful, pungent medicine that adds zest to most recipes. In many traditional cultures, garlic has been used as a remedy for various ailments. Now, modern medicine is proving you can get the health benefits of garlic in a capsule and avoid the social ostracism that often accompanies fragrant garlic lovers.

Garlic is powerful, pungent medicine that adds zest to most recipes. In many traditional cultures, garlic has been used as a remedy for various ailments. Now, modern medicine is proving you can get the health benefits of garlic in a capsule and avoid the social ostracism that often accompanies fragrant garlic lovers.

Add garlic to your medicine cabinet to reap these three health benefits:

1. Prevent Cancer

The link between garlic and the prevention of several types of cancer (especially stomach, breast, prostate, bladder, and colon cancers) is particularly strong. The US National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently reported “a host of studies provide compelling evidence” that compounds in garlic inhibit cancer, and a 2003 Israeli study published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Therapy credits allicin, a sulphur compound in garlic with stopping tumour growth within two weeks.

2. Prevent Heart Disease

More than 30 major studies show garlic can reduce arterial plaque, which can cause heart attacks. Garlic can lower blood pressure by improving the elasticity of arteries, reducing blood clotting, and lowering cholesterol and triglycerides (the dangerous blood fats that can lead to a heart attack).

One important UCLA study published in Preventive Medicine in 2004 showed that, even in people with seriously clogged arteries, 900 mg of aged garlic extract a day shrank artery-clogging plaque by 2.6 percent. In those who didn’t take the aged garlic extract, clogging increased by 15.6 percent. In other research published in the journal Lipids in 2000, garlic eaters showed 18.9-percent lower levels of triglycerides than those who didn’t eat garlic at all. A third study showed garlic eaters had 43 percent fewer artery-clogging blood clots after just six months of taking 900 mg of aged garlic extract daily.

A fascinating study from India demonstrates the immediate power of garlic against fatty foods, which are known to raise cholesterol. Researchers gave subjects a breakfast that contained 3.5 oz (99 g) of butter (an amount that would make most doctors tear out their hair!). After a few hours, that amount of fat made blood cholesterol levels rise by about 10 percent. However, subjects who were given a teaspoon of garlic juice with the butter experienced no increase in cholesterol. It appeared that the garlic had neutralized the harmful effects of the fat.

3. Reduce the Complications of Diabetes

British research presented at the International Garlic Symposium in Washington, DC in April 2005 showed the powerful antioxidants in aged garlic extract and its major active ingredient, S-allyl cysteine (SAC), could reduce the blood levels of substances in the blood called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These AGEs are thought to be responsible for many complications of diabetes, including heart disease, kidney failure, retinopathy (eye disease which can lead to blindness), and impaired wound healing that can make amputations necessary. Aged garlic extract may, therefore, help people with diabetes (types 1 and 2) live longer and healthier lives.

There’s no doubt we are barely scratching the surface of garlic’s healing powers. A search of the US National Library of Medicine’s database (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi) turns up more than 2,300 studies on garlic. That’s testimony in itself to the medical importance of this humble bulb.

A “Garlic a Day” Needn’t Keep Everyone Away

If you’re concerned about garlic breath and its social implications, put your fears to rest. Most of the studies cited in this article used an aged garlic extract supplement, which may be even better than raw garlic for us. The aging process eliminates pro-oxidants found in raw garlic and accentuates the effectiveness of the antioxidants found in garlic, which have such powerful disease-fighting capabilities. A recommended dosage for aged garlic extract is between 200 and 1,200 mg daily; consult your natural health practitioner to see what’s best for you.

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