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Garlic has been used for ages to cure various illnesses and as a spice in everyday cooking due to its numerous health benefits.

Garlic – a powerhouse of nutrition

Garlic is a superfood for the simple reason that it has almost every nutrient that every person needs. Some of the nutrients present in garlic is listed here:

  • Manganese
  • Fiber
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Selenium
  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Iron
  • Vitamin B1.

This is probably the reason why garlic has found a permanent place for itself in each kitchen and spice chest. The ease of growing garlic makes it abundantly available across the globe and in all cuisines.

Garlic in kitchen

Some of the benefits of garlic when consumed internally are highlighted here.

Garlic for pregnant and lactating mothers

Garlic is advised to be consumed by pregnant women from their second trimester. Since garlic helps in lactation, pregnant women and lactating mothers can eat garlic in the form of roasted cloves or can include it in their everyday diet. But one of the best ways is eating garlic with milk.

Method:

  1. Take half cup milk and heat it for a minute or two.
  2. Add five or six medium sized garlic cloves to the milk.
  3. Bring it to boil.
  4. Switch off the stove and allow the milk to cool down.
  5. Drink this milk ; chew and eat the garlic cloves.
  6. Follow with a glass of water.

The garlic which the mother consumes also has a positive impact on the flavour of mother’s milk. In addition to helping in lactation, garlic is also good for pregnant women since it helps the baby in the mother’s womb to gain weight!

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Cancer fighting properties

Garlic has been known for its anti-cancer properties and one of the main roles it plays is by increasing the production of hydrogen sulphide which help fight cancer. Some of the types of cancer that garlic fights are that of breast, stomach, esophagus, pancreas, and colon. Regular consumption of garlic helps in reducing the formation of pre cancerous tumors also known as polyps. Garlic also has three pure organic-sulfur compounds which have been found extremely effective in destroying brain cancer cells. This was published in a study by the scientists of the Medical university of South Carolina.

Garlic to alleviate common cold and congestion

Garlic when consumed in its raw form is found to treat common cold and nasal congestion. This is primarily because of the antibiotic and anti-microbial properties that garlic is known to have. While eating cooked garlic would also have good effects on alleviating cold, eating the cloves raw will have the best benefit for those suffering from common cold or flu.
A tea (kashaayam in Tamil) can be prepared with garlic as a remedy for cold.

Method:

  1. Crush 2 cloves of raw garlic with a pestle or a grinding stone.
  2. Transfer the paste to a bowl and add 300 ml of water.
  3. Add Tulasi (Holy Basil) leaves to the garlic water and bring it to boil.
  4. Allow the water to cool down a bit.
  5. Strain well.
  6. Add a few drops of honey or palm sugar to the strained water.

Drink this tea twice a day.

Garlic
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Strengthens immunity

Garlic is one of the few foods that can be given to infants under one year. This is because, garlic aids in digestion, clears intestinal parasites, and most importantly boosts immunity and helps fight against cough, common cold, flu and various other respiratory illnesses. For adults, on an average an intake of 4 cloves is recommended in order to get the daily recommended dose of Allicin – the sulfur compound present in garlic.

To reduce cholesterol levels

LDL cholesterol (also referred to as Bad cholesterol) and Total cholesterol levels can be reduced by regular intake of garlic. And while working in such an effective manner, garlic also does not affect the HDL (good cholesterol) levels that the body needs.

Garlic being low on calories, makes it a healthy choice for those who are trying to reduce their cholesterol levels and weight. In fact, you can ensure your weight loss recipes have a clove or two of garlic in order to make sure you get good nutrition while on a diet and also burn some unwanted fat.

Garlic as an antibiotic

The anti bacterial and anti microbial properties of garlic makes it a wonder antibiotic. Those who do not like the flavor of garlic or are unable to consume it in the raw form, may consume it in the form of capsules or powder that are available in pharma stores easily. While any processed food is definitely secondary to eating the cloves as such, it still will give you good benefits in the long run.

Garlic powder

To fight diabetes

I’ve known many who have been successfully able to reduce their sugar levels with the help of garlic. Consume 3 – 4 cloves of garlic on a daily basis to increase insulin levels in the blood and thereby keep sugar levels under control. This is definitely only in addition to the regular walking / exercise that is a must for anyone who wishes to control their sugar levels.

Needless to say, similar to any food or medicine, garlic also needs to be consumed in moderation. Garlic is said to produce heat and may have mild adverse effects when consumed in excess. Although we do highlight the importance of ‘moderate’ eating in naturopathy, many people consume in excess. Remember, ‘moderation’ is key.

Ramya Srinivasan, PDGBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. As a result of her passion in native medicine, she got her Diploma in Traditional Siddha Medicine from Bharat Sevak Samaj registered under the Indian Planning Commission. She is certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.