Garlic, strongly aromatic and flavorful, is used in virtually every cuisine in the earth. Its high sulfur compounds are believed to be responsible for its scent and taste, as well as its wonderful effects on human body.
Among hundreds of phytonutrients, Garlic rank only second to curcumin in the amount of research backing its benefits. A PubMed search found more than 6,100 peer-reviewed articles about it.
The Basics of Garlic
Garlic is a species of the amaryllis family, a class of bulb-shaped plants that includes chives, leeks, onions and scallions. It is native to Central Asia and has long been a common seasoning worldwide, with a history of several thousand years of human consumption. Each garlic bulb contains up to 20 edible bulblets called cloves.
From ancient time to today, many civilization use garlic for cooking and medicinal purposes. Each garlic clove is packed with health-promoting nutrients.
Garlic is best used raw for microbial properties, although cooked garlic still has a lot of value. Interestingly, the antioxidant value is equal, or sometimes even higher, when cooked, which is counter-intuitive because for most foods, cooking tends to decrease nutritional content.
Garlic contains vital nutrients — flavonoids, oligosaccharides, amino acids, allicin and high levels of sulfur.
What is Allicin
Although garlic was often purported to ward off colds, nobody could pinpoint exactly what was so special about the herb until the 1940’s when scientists detected that the healing properties of garlic were not merely mythical, garlic actually contains three essential compounds that give it incredible abilities: Aliin, allinase and allicin.
When garlic is chopped, it activates alliinase enzymes in the spice’s cells, then take a few minutes to convert allin, a derivative of the amino acid cysteine, into allicin.
In nature, allicin is produced as part of a defense mechanism, a reaction to potential pathogens and fungi. This antimicrobial quality of garlic makes it very popular in a number of treatments. Unlike conventional antibiotics, allicin is volatile and can kill bacteria via the gas phase.
Once activated, allicin has a short life span, often fading within a few hours to form a variety of organosulfur compounds. This is why supplements like Allicin are so sought-after as they contain concentrated amounts of allicin whereas the allicin in your food is often diminished by the time it reaches your mouth.
Below illustrates this amazing process (feel free to skip if it is too hard to comprehend):
Garlic has plentiful medical benefits:
Garlic has been widely recognized as both a preventative agent and treatment of many cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
Allicin have effects at each stage of cancer formation and affect many biological processes that modify cancer risk. Here is what NIH’s National Cancer Institute says:“Several population studies show an association between increased intake of garlic and reduced risk of certain cancers, including cancers of the stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, and breast.”
When it comes to how consuming this spice acts to prevent cancer, the National Cancer Institute continues to explain: “protective effects from garlic may arise from its antibacterial properties or from its ability to block the formation of cancer-causing substances, halt the activation of cancer-causing substances, enhance DNA repair, reduce cell proliferation, or induce cell death.”
Garlic’s polysulfides promote the opening or widening of blood vessels and, hence, blood pressure reduction.
Allicin is highly effective at killing countless microorganisms responsible for some of the most common and rarest infections. It actually might help prevent colds as well as other infections.
Garlic may also help hair Loss (Alopecia), Alzheimer’s Disease and diabetes.
To prevent gut problems as well as bad breath, you can eat garlic with food rather than on an empty stomach.
A single garlic clove has about 10 mg of allicin. However, as we mentioned before, allicin is not stable once activated. Taking allicin supplements is a good option.
Allicin supplements are labeled either garlic or allicin. The amount of Allicin, its volatility, whether the softgel is enteric-coated, and if it is odor-free all should be considered before buying a particular brand. Some formulas mix with parsley oil as a natural breath freshener.
There is no standard recommended dose for allicin. Each capsule should contain 200 mg to 500 mg of garlic extract, releasing at least 4,000 mcg of allicin.
We recommend the following products, taking consideration of ConsumerLab and Labdoor’s testing results.