The term “superfood” is often overused, given to foods that don’t necessarily deserve it. We try to avoid using the word, but sometimes certain foods do stick out more than others. Based on the current research, it seems that garlic might be stepping up to the superfood podium soon.
Garlic, as you may know, is an immensely popular food commonly used as seasoning for its distinctly imposing flavor. However, not often do we speak of its health benefits.
The Health Benefits of Garlic
When we look at research, it does seem that the benefits are indeed vast. The benefit that might be most fascinating is the increase of nitric oxide.
Garlic Increases Nitric Oxide
One study found that consuming two grams of garlic cloves was associated with a 385% increase of circulating nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide has been shown to promote vasodilation, increasing blood flow and oxygen to smooth muscles, and possibly improving nutrient delivery to your skeletal muscles. In turn, it potentially improves exercise performance and muscle recovery.
The increased nitric oxide is also connected to the increase of circulating interferon-alpha, an important signaling protein that have shown to combat viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
It’s also known to be a general anti-cancer protein for its stimulation of the immune system to help slow down cancer cell proliferation.
Garlic Reduces Blood Pressure
Garlic has also been shown to reduce blood pressure for hypertensive subjects by as much as 5-10%, with more consistency in reducing systolic blood pressure than diastolic.
This can be huge benefit for those at risk of high blood pressure.
Speaking of… pressure, some studies also suggest that garlic can be… “pro” erectile, improving the performance of the male sex organ.
Hydrogen sulfide, one of the components in garlic, itself is found within the sex organ and is theorized to open potassium channels that allow greater blood engorgement to the organ.
Some even call garlic the “vegetable Viagra.”
More Health Benefits of Garlic
Other potential garlic benefits based on preliminary research is reducing triglyceride levels, increasing levels of the anti-oxidant glutathione, increasing T-cell levels for improved immunity, and reducing arterial plaque buildup, especially for women.
Garlic & Cholesterol
But perhaps the most consistently significant benefit of garlic is reducing total cholesterol. Three different meta-analyses found, on average, a 10% reduction of total cholesterol in hyperlipidemic subjects when given garlic.
Further research found that garlic is particularly good at reducing low-density lipoprotein, also known as the “bad” cholesterol. Some show slight increases in high-density lipoprotein, aka good cholesterol, but not as reliably as lowering LDL.
How much Garlic should I use?
As far as how much you should consume, according to the research site Examine.com, many of the benefits can achieved by eating a single clove of garlic 2-3 times a day, which can easily be done by adding it to your major meals.
And it’s best prepared by first chopping or crushing it to allow the beneficial compounds to activate. Avoid microwaving, as that might destroy the beneficial components. Grill or roast garlic instead. Also, don’t eat too much of it, as it can be toxic.
General guideline is stay below roughly 20 grams of garlic for the average male, which is roughly 7 cloves.
After all of this information, does garlic deserve the superfood title?
In our opinion… yes, at least more so than most others that have been called superfoods. The benefits are quite astounding.
Good thing that we are a fan of its flavor and hopefully reaping its benefits already. And if you’re not a fan already, then maybe all of this information might change your mind.
If you do start eating garlic more often, just be care of the power of your… breath.
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