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The Health Benefits of Garlic

Posted Aug 04 2008 7:14pm

Garlic has an intriguing history as well as a wonderful flavor. In the past, this pungent herb was used to treat numerous ailments from hangovers to typhoid; and of course let’s not forget the occasional vampire. Garlic however, attracted much attention in the early 1980’s when it was linked to the ‘French Paradox’. The ‘French Paradox’ includes the consumption of garlic, olive oil and wine - a more relaxed approach to eating. It seems that many Europeans who consume diets high in fat and animal protein also enjoy low levels of heart disease.

Studies have shown that the consumption of garlic may lower high blood pressure. It appears that garlic may ‘thin’ the blood for a short time, which will reduce the risk of clotting. Blood thinning is not always good, but with many individuals’ blood, due to diet and lifestyle factors, prone toward clotting, may lead to cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis, thrombosis and stroke.

Many studies have shown that garlic may:

  • reduce cholesterol levels
  • decrease LDL (bad cholesterol), yet improve HDL (good cholesterol) levels
  • retard the body’s cholesterol making process and excrete fat
  • prevent atherosclerosis ( plaque that builds up on the walls of the arteries that cause cardiovascular disease)
  • be effective in fighting colds, infections - because garlic is a natural antibiotic
  • help prevent high metal toxicity such as lead poisoning

Although garlic contains low amounts of antioxidants such as Vitamin A and Vitamin C, selenium and carotene, many researchers believe that the componentallicinis responsible for most of garlic’s health boosting properties. It apparently is also responsible for the herb’s distinctive smell and profound taste.

Many ask how much garlic is enough? Generally recommended preventative doses for garlic are a half to two cloves, 4 to 7 days per week for men and post menopausal women. You can swallow the whole cloves or use theem in cooking. The usual dose for garlic capsules is 300 to 900 milligrams per day. Capsules are just as effective as the ‘real’ garlic. But they are only effective if they contain alliin, allicin or allicin’s active daughter compounds. Garlic tends to ’stay’ with people for varying amounts of time. They dissolve in your intestines and garlic capsules usually don’t produce the side effects that the herb intself may produce. One of the advantages of taking the capsules is the elimination of the ’smell’ that lingers when eating or consuming the natural herb.

Although many health-care professionals proclaim garlic free of any side effects, due to its anti-clotting properties, it is wise to take caution if you have an increased tendency toward bleeding or any other medical conditions. If you have a bleeding disorder, which include hemophilia, avoid large doses of garlic. If you suffer from migraines, you may limit your intake of garlic as well. Garlic may have a vasodilatory effect that some believe could prompt a migraine attack.

Enjoy your garlic it is a wonderful herb, but take caution with the intake amount if you suffer from any of the conditons mentioned.

Heart-Smart Salad Dressing

2/3 parts cold-pressed olive oil, walnut oil or flaxseed oil

1/6 part red wine or balsamic vinegar

1/6 part organic lemon or lime juice

dash of black pepper

dash powdered mustard

3 slightly crushed garlic cloves

Mix and let stand for at least 2 hours. Remove the cloves or eat them and enjoy. May be also used as a marinade. This is very potent, so a little will go a long way.

Until next time,

Dr. Daisy

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