|Sure, we know all foods derived from plants are rich
in health-promoting phytonutrients -- but why all the fuss about garlic?
Is it actually superior to other nutritious plant foods? Forget the
5,000 years of folk medicine or that whole vampire thing. We researched
garlic and garlic supplements so we could sift out fact from fiction,
the healthful from the hype. Some of what we discovered might surprise
What's in It?
For years, scientists pegged allicin as garlic's key beneficial
component. But allicin is quite volatile, and other forms of garlic
that contain no allicin -- cooked, steamed, microwaved and aged
garlic extract -- still exhibit medicinal advantages. Garlic's 100
compounds may work synergistically, and its secret weapon may turn
out to be its more stable compound, S-allyl cysteine. Some of garlic's
* S-allyl compounds: S-allyl cysteine and other water-soluble sulfur
* Allicin: alliin converts to allicin when the clove is crushed,
chopped or chewed
* Antioxidants: organosulfur compounds and flavonoids such as allixin
neutralize free radicals
* Selenium: an important dietary mineral
* Saponins: steroid substances with antibacterial and antifungal
* Carbohydrates: sugars, fructans and pectins
* Proteins, vitamins and minerals: minute quantities
|What Is Aged Garlic Extract?
Why are some supplements promoted as "aged garlic extract"
(AGE)? Although some say the fermentation of aging destroys some components,
aging extracted garlic in diluted alcohol without heat for up to 20
months appears to:
* Convert unstable allicin to stable beneficial compounds
* Increase the S-allyl compound content
* Raise antioxidant activity
* Create the tumor-inhibiting compound S-allyl mercaptocysteine, which
isn't found in other forms of garlic
* Remove odor better
|How to Take It and How Much ?
These dosages are for adults only:
* Fresh Clove: 2-4 grams daily of fresh, minced garlic clove -- each
clove is about 1 gram
* Capsules or Tablets: 600-900 milligrams (mg) daily of freeze-dried
garlic standardized to 1.3 percent alliin or 0.6 percent allicin
* Infusion: 4 grams daily
in 150 milliliters (mL) (5 ounces) of water
* Fluid Extract: 4 mL (0.13 ounces) daily of solution in ratio of
1 gram:1 mL
* Tincture: 20 mL (0.66 ounces) daily of solution in ratio of 1 gram:
* Oil: 0.03-0.12 mL three times per day
|What Are Its Benefits?
Garlic doesn't absolutely prevent any disorder. But studies suggest
it lowers the risk of numerous conditions. We assessed the evidence.
* Anthrax Inhibitor: The claim that garlic is effective against anthrax
is an urban legend.
* Free Radical Scavenger: Research shows that garlic extract, especially
aged, boosts cell glutathione, which fights free radicals -- linked
to cancer and aging -- and supports immunity.
* Atherosclerosis: Garlic fights blood clotting and plaque, preventing
atherosclerosis, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. In animal
studies, it lowers homocysteine.
* Bronchitis: Garlic thins mucus, easing the symptoms of bronchitis.
* High Blood Pressure: Research indicates that garlic lowers blood
* High Cholesterol: Numerous studies have concluded that garlic lowers
cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL, the "bad" cholesterol
-- but only slightly. More tests are needed.
* Cancer: A cancer cure? Definitely not. But animal studies suggest
that garlic provides activity against certain cancers. People who
eat more garlic are less prone to breast, prostate, laryngeal, and
especially colon and stomach cancers. Supplements have not been as
thoroughly studied for cancer benefits, but they contain the same
* Common Cold: In one study, people received garlic supplements or
a placebo for 12 weeks during the cold season. The garlic group had
fewer colds and, when faced with a cold, their symptoms lasted for
a shorter time.
* Dementia: Researchers have found that AGE prevents frontal lobe
degeneration, improves memory and extends life-span in mice.
* Diabetes: Preliminary tests suggest garlic may lower blood sugars,
although one study found that garlic worked no better than placebo.
More research is warranted.
* Ear Pain: In one study, children with the painful ear infection
otitis media were given ear drops of an herbal combination that included
garlic. The combination worked as well as prescription. However, the
sampling was small.
* Immune System: Blood samples from humans given garlic powder for
3 months indicated that their immune cells had a greater capacity
to engulf E. coli bacteria. Also, substances in garlic kill H. pylori,
a stomach bacterium linked to ulcers and stomach cancer. Garlic supplements
can increase the activity of immune cells known as macrophages, which
* Intestinal Parasites: Lab tests indicate huge quantities of garlic
may fight roundworm, the most common intestinal parasite. But garlic's
antiparasitic properties have not yet been tested on humans.
* Toxicity: Very limited test tube experiments suggest that garlic
supplements may reduce the risk of heart and liver toxicity in patients
receiving potent anticancer drugs.
* Tuberculosis: Numerous test tube studies have proven that garlic
extract inhibits the growth of different bacteria, including Mycobacterium
tuberculosis, the organism causing tuberculosis. But massive concentrations
of extract were needed to slow the growth of M. tuberculosis, prompting
speculation that combining garlic extract or garlic oil with drugs
may prove effective -- eventually.
|Avoid Garlic If...
Garlic contains active substances that can trigger side effects or
interact with other herbs, supplements or medications. And it's a
strong blood thinner. Do not take garlic supplements if you:
* will soon undergo surgery or deliver a baby
* have hemophilia
* have kidney disease
* are pregnant or breastfeeding
* are a child, unless your doctor
* prescribes it
* take medications, such as indo-methacin, dipyridamole or aspirin
* take blood-thinning meds such as warfarin or aspirin
* take diabetes medications known
* as sulfonylureas (glimepiride, glyburide and chlorpropamide)
* take protease inhibitors that treat HIV, such as indinavir, ritinavir
* take statins to lower cholesterol -- atorvastatin, pravastatin or
lovastatin, for instance -- unless you check with your doctor first
* take blood pressure-lowering medications called ACE inhibitors --
including enalapril, captopril or lisinopril -- without getting your
|Most Popular Varieties
The allium family includes onions, leeks, shallots, chives, green
onions and garlic. There are about 300 different varieties of garlic
-- or Allium sativum -- grown worldwide. The most common are:
* white-skinned or Californian
* green garlic
Thank you for Better Nutrition Magzine