Garlic: An Important, Beneficial Food

Garlic is popular in most countries of the world, adding a pungent note to salads, vegetables, meat dishes, and soups.  Eaten raw, it has a bit of a bite.  However, when roasted, it looses its bite, becoming slightly sweet and mild in character.

To reap all the benefits of garlic, it should be crushed a few minutes prior to being added in its raw state to any of the foods.  Cooking degrades the nutrients and thus makes them less active or available to the body.

Garlic is nutritious and health promoting.

Most of us don’t realize that garlic is packed with nutrients, especially vitamin C, sulfur, Vit B6, and manganese.  Let’s look at some of the major functions of these nutrients.

Vit C is vital in the formation of collagen, necessary for healthy skin, mucus membranes, tendons, ligaments, and bone.  This vitamin also supports movement of fat into the mitochondria of each cell for production of energy. Further, it helps with the metabolism of cholesterol to bile acids.  This may be one way in which Vit C helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Vit C also is an important antioxidant that helps to protect cells, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and nucleic acids from damage due to oxidation, radiation, environmental toxins, and smoking.

Manganese is involved in the metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, as well as energy production. Manganese is also vitally important in the formation of healthy cartilage and bone.  Like Vit C, it is of great importance in the formation of collagen for healthy skin and wound healing.

Vit B6 cannot be made by the body and must therefore be provided by the foods we eat.  This vitamin plays a vital role in the formation of neurotransmitters, red blood cells, and the conversion of tryptophan into niacin (Vit B3).

Vit B6 deficiency results in abnormal brain and nerve function and may lead to anemia with resulting low oxygen delivery to all the tissues.  Without niacin, the energy production comes to a halt since niacin is necessary for the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.

Furthermore, Vit B6 helps to regulate the metabolism of fats, helping to reduce levels of bad cholesterol.

Sulfur’s many vital roles include the crosslinking of aminoacids into functional proteins to form healthy skin, nails, hair, and connective tissue.

Sulfur is necessary for the liver to clear the body of toxins from foods, medications, and environmental toxins, and is also found in insulin, thiamine (Vit B1), and biotin, as well as cartilage and bone (as a chondroitin-sulfate compound).

Garlic helps to protect from bacterial and fungal infections.

Garlic has potent antibacterial and antifungal properties due to its many different sulfur compounds, which are released when the garlic is crushed several minutes prior to being added to foods in its raw state.

Thus, garlic provides protection from bacterial and fungal infection from the foods we eat, resulting in better digestion, less burping and flatulence, as well as better bowel movements.

For more information on the medicinal properties and uses of garlic, please view the Herb Post on garlic.