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Garlic with overestimated health effects?
Garlic has been valued as a medicinal plant for centuries because of its positive effects on health. The ingredients of the tubers are considered, among other things, to be antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. The regular consumption of garlic is also said to protect against vascular diseases and thus against thromboses, strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. However, according to current media reports, the positive effects of garlic may sometimes be overestimated.
Not all claims regarding the positive health effects of garlic are correct, reports "Welt Online", citing the statements of nutritionists from the Association for Independent Health Advice (UGB) in Gießen, the Association for Nutrition and Dietetics in Aachen and the German Society for Nutrition ( DGE). Although numerous health benefits of garlic are clearly scientifically proven, the vitamin content in particular is not expected to be particularly effective due to the small amount. For example, several hundred grams of garlic would have to be consumed per day to get the recommended daily dose of vitamin C.
Garlic: medicinal plant for over 3,000 years The health-promoting effects of garlic have been used for healing purposes for more than 3,000 years. The leek plant "was already mentioned in ancient Egyptian writings from around 1550 BC as a remedy and is still considered a prophylactic and remedy for many diseases", quotes "Welt Online", the expert Margret Morlo from the Association for Nutrition and Dietetics in Aachen. The positive effects on health are achieved through the ingredients of the tuber, such as the numerous vitamins (vitamins A, B, C), the minerals (e.g. potassium and selenium), but also the valuable secondary plant substances such as polyphenols or sulfides. Garlic also has a high content of adenosine, which is important as a building block for cell metabolism.
Vitamins and minerals in garlic with little effect But not all health-promoting ingredients of garlic are equally important given the relatively low consumption, says Stefan Weigt from the Association for Independent Health Advice in Gießen. As Weigt explains, the concentrations of minerals and vitamins are relatively low and very large amounts of garlic would have to be consumed in order to reach the recommended daily dose. For example, around 800 grams of garlic would be needed to meet the daily requirement of vitamin C. However, in addition to minerals and vitamins, garlic contains numerous secondary plant substances that have an extremely positive effect on health. "When it comes to phytochemicals, the tubers can really boast, especially with the sulfides," says the UGB expert.
Sulfides show extremely positive effects on health. The sulfur-containing compounds are not only found in garlic but also in onions and leeks. However, their concentration in garlic is particularly high. The “sulfides can have a positive effect on health in many ways. For example, they have an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effect, ”says DGE expert Antje Gahl. The sulfides could therefore prevent infectious diseases such as colds and help in their treatment. The positive effect for colds has been scientifically proven, among other things, by studies by the University of Arizona (USA). Studies by the University of Sheffield (Great Britain) have also shown that garlic counteracts the development of periodontitis and other oral mucosa diseases. The growth of the pathogens is inhibited by the antimicrobial sulfides.
Reduction of blood fat levels through garlic consumption In addition, garlic has a positive effect on blood fat levels. Several studies have clearly shown that the ingredients of the leek family lower blood lipid levels and therefore have a preventive effect on diseases of the blood vessels, such as arteriosclerosis. Cholesterol levels can be significantly reduced overall by regular consumption of garlic, Margret Morlo from the Association for Nutrition and Dietetics also confirmed. It has been proven that the sulfides in garlic "reduce the cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood - that is, the blood lipid levels", the expert said. This was also noticed by a working group at the National Cardiological Research Center in Moscow, which observed a 12 percent drop in total cholesterol after 12 weeks of garlic therapy in a test group with 42 volunteers.
Garlic protects against heart attacks, strokes and thromboses Stefan Weigt from the UGB explained that regular consumption of garlic by lowering blood lipid levels could possibly protect against arteriosclerosis. This vascular disease is caused by deposits of blood lipids and lime on the walls of the vessels. The elasticity of the blood vessels suffers and there are increasing constrictions that can hinder or even block blood flow. Arterial degeneration can result in thrombosis, heart pain due to angina, strokes, a heart attack, or sudden cardiac death. Regular consumption of garlic therefore also reduces the risk of corresponding cardiovascular diseases, explained the UGB expert. Although garlic's direct protective effect against the diseases mentioned has not yet been scientifically proven, the reduction in blood lipid levels has an undeniable positive effect on the cardiovascular system. This is probably one of the reasons why people from Mediterranean countries where garlic is traditionally eaten are statistically less likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases, reports "Welt Online".
Garlic for cancer prevention? In addition to the health-promoting effects of garlic that have already been described, its antioxidative effects can also be assessed as positive. Current studies provide evidence that garlic can have a preventive or even soothing effect on colorectal cancer. It is not without reason that garlic is said "that, thanks to its antioxidant secondary plant substances, it can inhibit cell damage and the development of tumor cells," said the expert from the German Nutrition Society, Antje Gahl. There is still no definitive proof, but "the analysis of a number of animal experiments and statistical surveys suggests that garlic lowers the risk of cancer." In gastric and colon cancer, this is virtually proven, says Gahl. The antioxidants in garlic have the ability to neutralize free radicals, which are considered cell-damaging and can contribute to the degeneration of cells.
Regular consumption of garlic is particularly important According to the experts, it is particularly important to consume garlic regularly in order to achieve a positive health effect from garlic consumption. "Ideally every day - with a medium dose of around four grams being recommended," emphasized Margret Morlo. It should also be taken into account that the health-promoting sulfur compounds and other secondary plant substances are only activated when the teeth are crushed, added Stefan Weigt. Pressing, cutting or crushing are similarly suitable here. It should also be borne in mind that raw garlic contains the most health-promoting substances. The longer the garlic is heated, the more it loses its positive effect on health. If you cannot tolerate raw garlic, you should only sweat it briefly to get as many of its active ingredients as possible.
In naturopathy, garlic is also used for the treatment of worms, intestinal fungus and dysbiosis (disturbance of balance) of the intestinal flora, the application usually being in the form of an enema boiled from three crushed cloves of garlic in one liter of water. The liquid is cooled to hand temperature and introduced using an irrigator available in the pharmacy.
The only disadvantage of garlic smell Despite the multifaceted health-promoting effects of regular garlic consumption, it also has a disadvantage that primarily affects others. The smell released by pores and breath is often perceived by the environment as unpleasant and annoying. A tip here is a short boil with whole milk, which should have a natural odor-suppressing effect. Furthermore, the preparation with spinach or as garlic soup with peas or lentils is considered to be largely odorless. However, the vapors can usually not be completely avoided, so that in the interests of health, people in doubt have to live with the smell of garlic. (fp)
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