Have you ever walked into a good oriental, Italian or an Indian restaurant and noticed the air filled with a very sweet and appetizing cooking smell? Ever wondered what is this magical food that is getting cooked that automatically increases your appetite? This magical ingredient from the Allium family of vegetable is also a cousin of our very own onion, leeks, chives and shallots. Known more for leaving a bad breath in the mouth after eating, the mighty garlic has more to it than just the pungent smell it comes with. An indispensable part of Indian and Italian kitchens, while garlic has the power to increase one’s appetite, this magical ingredient is equally potent when it comes to its health benefits, especially when it comes down to losing those extra pounds. Known for being a nutritional powerhouse, garlic has already shown to boost immunity, quell inflammation, relax blood vessels, help in the smooth flow of the blood in the vessels, reduce blood pressure and even reduces the risk of heart disease. Power-packed with many minerals and bioactive compounds, this wonder vegetable is also considered very good for hypertension, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. In fact, some doctors even recommend consuming raw garlic first thing in the morning to their heart patients, such are the strong medicinal benefits of garlic.
With all these great benefits that garlic brings with respect to heart and blood vessels, it is equally impressive to note that garlic is also one of the best home remedies when it comes to weight loss. Not very well known amongst the common people, garlic soaked overnight in honey when consumed first thing in the morning, helps one lose those extra layers from their body if consumed regularly. While honey together with lemon is a more popular treatment for weight loss, garlic with honey, even though not the most appetizing, is considered even more efficient with respect to reducing one’s weight by some school of home remedies and physicians practising Ayurveda. In fact, Hippocrates, the famous ancient Greek physician is believed to have been prescribing garlic as one of the medicines to his patients even in those early days.
Today, many of the benefits of garlic have also been proven and accepted by modern Science.
Nutrients in Garlic
While being extremely low in calories, the Worlds Healthiest Foods website even recommends consuming 1/3 serving of garlic or other Allium family products per day, i.e., approximately two cloves of garlic chopped and cooked with food. Each serving of garlic can typically provide one with the following percentage of the daily value of nutrients:
|6 Cloves of raw Garlic contain:|
A great source of Magnesium and Vitamin B6, besides Copper, Vitamin C and others, garlic’s true magical properties get created when they are chopped or crushed, which leads to the compound in garlic called alliin to convert to Allicin, which in turn, being highly unstable, quickly converts various sulphur-containing compounds. It is these sulphur-containing compounds that have been shown to provide various health benefits, including the detoxification of our human body. In fact, amongst all the Allium vegetables, garlic and onion are considered to be the best two.
How can Garlic Help with Weight Loss?
- Contains key nutrients which help with weight loss: Garlic, as an ingredient, comes loaded with Manganese, Vitamins B6 and C, calcium and fibre. All these nutrients are considered as key players with respect to weight loss.
- May help increase fat burning: A 2011 study published in The Journal of Nutrition (1) and another independent study showed that aged garlic oil helps in some women reduce weight and that there is scientific relation between garlic and weight loss (2). Furthermore, garlic, as an ingredient also pairs very well with other foods that assist with fat burn in the human body.
- Garlic helps with metabolism: Garlic helps not only boost your metabolism, but also helps in boosting energy levels, which in turn, help in increased fat burn in the body and keeps one fitter.
- Garlic is a great appetite suppressant: While the smell of cooked garlic may help increase appetite, once consumed, garlic is a great suppressant of hunger, keeping one feeling fuller longer, preventing from overeating
- Makes food flavourful without the increase in calorie count: Extremely low in calorie count, garlic helps enhance the flavour of any savoury foods. When cooked a little, garlic can actually give otherwise tasteless healthy food a great flavour that helps to make the food edible for many.
- A great detoxifying agent: This is one of the most common and talked about feature of garlic. Consuming garlic actually helps the human body to cleanse out a lot of toxins which could be a hindrance to the digestive system. A happy digestive system will automatically function optimally and ensure that the body burns all the fat well and helps digest food better
- Helps prevent the formation of fat cells: Garlic reduces the expression of genes that are involved in adipogenesis, which leads to the formation of fat cells, thus reducing obesity.
Other health benefits of Garlic
Besides being great for weight loss, garlic is also known to help humans with many other diseases. Some of the most common benefits are as listed below:
- Helps reduce hypertension: The allicin in garlic, when exposed to high levels of pressure, helps relax the blood vessels, thus preventing hypertension (3).
- Helps prevent thrombosis: Garlic also helps in platelet aggregation, thus preventing thrombosis, or in simpler words, clotting of blood inside the blood vessels.
- Treats cold and cough: A paper published in 2014 showed that people who consumed garlic daily had lesser bouts of cold and cough in comparison to those who did not. In fact, some also claim that consuming 2 cloves of raw crushed garlic at the onset of cold helps to lessen the severity of the cold
- Lowers cholesterol level: The allicin compound in garlic is believed to prevent bad cholesterol from oxidizing, thus helping with one’s cholesterol levels.
- Improves heart health: Preventing blood clots in the blood vessels, eating garlic regularly helps in smooth flow of blood within the human body, thus preventing many diseases such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, atherosclerosis, thrombosis, and many more, thus helping in keeping a healthy heart.
- Prevents metal poisoning: The sulphur compounds in garlic can help greatly reduce the lead content in the human body, including blood and tissue lead concentration, thus helping in reducing metal poisoning. Sulphur also helps in easier absorption of iron and zinc in the blood.
- Regulates Blood sugar: Raw garlic is also known to help reduce blood sugar. When consumed raw every morning, garlic is known to help diabetes patients a lot.
- Controls asthma: Consuming 3 garlic cloves every night with warm milk every night helps bring great relief to Asthma patients.
- Antibacterial and anti-parasitic effects: Garlic extract helps eliminate tapeworms and ringworms. Garlic extract is also extensively used to treat jock itch, athlete’s foot and tick bites.
- Help reduce hair loss as well as with hair growth: Garlic-gel or the garlic mixed coconut oil is used to help with hair growth, one of the oldest grandmother’s recipes.
- Helps reduce cavities in the teeth and oral bacteria: Known for its anti-cavity properties, garlic oil is also one of the main ingredients in toothpaste and mouthwashes.
How to put garlic to use
While it is recommended that garlic is consumed raw first thing in the morning, or an empty stomach, as is commonly known, garlic can also be used in food items when finely chopped or crushed. A majority of people may not like the raw pungent smell and the aftertaste left behind in the mouth when consumed raw, however beneficial it may be, however, when chopped and cooked, the smell gives way to add the extra flavour to food, thus making the food easier to consume and also making the garlic easier to consume.
- Chop, slice, crush juice garlic before consuming. Crushing garlic helps in creating sulphur-containing compounds which in turn, helps the human body extensively.
- Use the herb in various foods as an added ingredient, especially in salads, meats, fish and stews. The herb also helps the meat lose their rawness and give the food a great flavour.
- Garlic oil extract is also used in various products like toothpaste and mouth wash.
How to put garlic to use for weight loss
- Raw garlic with Water: Consuming raw garlic soaked overnight in water is considered great for weight loss.
- Raw garlic with Honey: Some other recipes combine garlic with yet another great ingredient known for weight loss- honey. Even though not a great combination, going by their taste, both these ingredients together are considered very good when consumed on an empty stomach in the morning for weight loss.
- Raw Garlic with Lemon juice: Garlic with lemon juice and warm water is another super combination to be had early in the morning for weight loss. A great weight loss stimulant, together with garlic, lemons effectiveness on weightless improves drastically.
Some great recipe ideas with garlic
Breakfast: Adding a few chopped garlic to scrambled eggs or an omelette adds a great flavour to the morning dose of eggs. Add garlic to baked beans or to some of the Indian accompaniments, and you can enjoy a healthy and tasty meal to start your day with.
Lunch: Garlic is known to add a lot of flavours and go very well with lean meats and proteins that need to be consumed during lunch. A great flavouring agent, garlic when chopped and added almost towards the end of cooking makes a great taste enhancer. Further, garlic goes very well with almost any food that is low in calories and veggies cooked in skillets.
Dinner: All proteins that one consumes for dinner, be It steaks, or pulses or lean meats, garlic goes wonderfully well with all. T steaks and mushrooms are known for low calories and go very well with garlic as well.
Snacks: Add some minced garlic to pan-fried veggies and you have a ready-made treat in hand that does not add to your waistline.
Garlic, on its own, is not a magic ingredient which can magically help one lose 10 pounds in a second. However, when consumed daily, either raw every morning, or with cooked food, it is known to be extremely beneficial for human beings. Be it blood pressure, hypertension, or inflammation, garlic is natures gift to mankind. When consumed in the right quantities of garlic can enhance human life, however, like everything else, in excess, garlic can have a negative effect on humans as well.
Quoting the famous words from the ancient physician Hippocrates from the land of Greece, ‘Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food. He might as well have been referring to garlic here.