Benefits of Garlic
Doctor Mercola talks about the many potential benefits of eating
garlic. So if you can take the smell here's some of the good things
If you want a simple way to increase the
disease-fighting power of your meals, be
generous with your use of high-quality herbs
and spices. There is no shortage of research
showing that these foods are among the
healthiest you can consume, and the best
part is they taste wonderful and are
relatively inexpensive, so they're a "secret
weapon" that just about everyone can take
When it comes to using herbs and spices,
you really can't go wrong as long as you
choose those that appeal to you and "agree"
with you. But I want to highlight two in
specific that are showing great therapeutic
promise, one that you're already familiar
with -- garlic -- and one that you may not
be -- saffron.
Garlic: One of Nature's Most Impressive
Garlic has been treasured for its
medicinal properties for centuries. In
ancient times, Greek and Roman soldiers ate
garlic before going off to war, and it was
reportedly given to the slaves who built the
Egyptian pyramids in order to enhance their
strength and endurance.
It also happens to be one of the most
heavily researched plant foods around. At
GreenMedInfo you can find
133 studies involving 153 different
conditions that garlic may benefit.
||High blood pressure
||Low immune function
As you can see from the wide range of
conditions it impacts, garlic exerts its
benefits on multiple levels, offering
anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and
antioxidant properties. It's thought that
much of garlic's therapeutic effect comes
from its sulfur-containing compounds, such
as allicin, which are also what give it its
An Infection-Fighting, Heart-Protective, Cancer-Preventive Powerhouse
Researchers have revealed that as allicin digests in your body it
produces sulfenic acid, a compound that reacts faster with dangerous
free radicals than any other known compound. This is one of the reasons
why I named garlic as one of the top seven anti-aging foods you can
Garlic is also a triple threat against infections, offering
antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Not only is it
effective at killing antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including MRSA, but
it also fights yeast infections, viruses and parasites.
Garlic also helps relax and enlarge the blood vessels in your body,
improving blood flow, especially to your heart. This can help prevent
conditions like high blood pressure and life-threatening events such as
a heart attack or stroke. Garlic also inhibits the formation of plaques
in your arteries, and prevents cholesterol from becoming oxidized, a
condition that may contribute to heart disease.
This powerhouse food is also known to help increase your protection
against at least five forms of cancer: breast, colon, ovarian, prostate
and esophageal. In one study, the more often participants ate vegetables
from the allium family, particularly garlic and onions, the lower their
risk of certain cancers became. Part of this effect may be due to
garlic's ability to increase tissue activities of phase II
detoxification enzymes, which are necessary to help your body excrete
chemicals and other toxins.
Interestingly, the allicin in garlic is so powerful it has even been
found to help weight loss in rats fed a fructose-rich diet -- which is
virtually guaranteed to make most people gain weight. Animals being fed
only the fructose-rich diet gained weight, but those whose diets were
supplemented with allicin did not, and some even lost weight. Of course,
this does not mean you can eat all the fructose you want and then eat a
couple of cloves of garlic and expect to lose weight … but it does give
you an idea of just how far-reaching garlic's benefits appear to be.
The Healthiest Way to Eat Garlic
In many cases, eating whole foods is a far better approach to taking a
supplement, and in the case of garlic this is especially true.
Typically, garlic must be crushed or chopped in order to stimulate the
process that converts alliin into the beneficial allicin. Once the
garlic is cut, the active compound loses potency rapidly and will all
but disappear within about an hour of chopping.
So the best way to eat garlic is to take a whole, fresh clove, chop it,
smash it or press it, wait a few minutes for the reaction to occur, and
then eat it. If you use jarred, powdered, or dried garlic, you will not
get all the benefits that fresh garlic has to offer.
Saffron: An Important Spice for Brain Health?
The other spice that deserves attention, but is far less well known in
the United States than garlic, is saffron. Saffron comes from the flower
of the crocus plant (it's actually the plant's dried stigma) has a
reddish thread-like appearance, and is a rich source of carotenoid
Used since ancient times for a variety of medicinal purposes (saffron is
known for its immune-boosting power, among others), in the modern day it
is widely used in Persian, European, Indian and Turkish cooking, both
for its unique sweet, grassy flavor and its ability to add vibrant
yellow-orange color to foods.
There are quite a few studies that reveal saffron's beneficial
properties, and one of the most recent showed promise for treatment of
mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease. In a 22-week, double-blind study
of patients with Alzheimer's, a saffron supplement worked as well as the
drug donepezil (brand name Aricept), but with significantly less
vomiting experienced among the saffron group.
The researchers noted:
"This phase II study provides preliminary evidence of a possible
therapeutic effect of saffron extract in the treatment of patients with
mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease."
It is becoming increasingly clear that supplementing your diet with
foods and supplements rich in a variety of compounds, such as vitamin E,
folic acid, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-lipoic acid), may
help reduce oxidative stress and delay the progression of age-related
cognitive decline. And it appears saffron is no exception.
Separate research has shown saffron to help prevent and treat dementia,
and inhibit platelet aggregation (which can lead to blood clots) and
lipid peroxidation (which causes cell damage). It's also known to have
chemopreventive properties against cancer, which are also strongly
associated with the common saffron alternative turmeric (which is often
referred to as Indian saffron). While in China, Marco Polo in 1280 AD
recorded information on turmeric in his diary:
"There is also a vegetable which has all the properties of true saffron,
as well the smell and the color, and yet it is not really saffron."
turmeric has been used as a substitute for saffron (an old world
spice) in Europe for over 700 years, and this spice has been found to
have many of the same health advantages, including showing promise for
If you've never tried saffron, the reason may be because it's earned the
moniker "most expensive spice in the world." There are only three
stigmas in each crocus flower, and it reportedly takes 80,000 flowers
(about the number of plants on one acre of land) to produce one pound of
saffron. Turmeric is much easier to come by and is also much less
expensive, while offering many of the same potential health benefits, as
well as the same characteristic yellow color. You can learn more about
turmeric, or "Indian saffron," here.
There's Good Reason to "Spice" Up Your Life
Herbs and spices have very low calorie content, they're relatively
inexpensive, and they're a great way to turbo-boost the natural
antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power of your diet. All these
benefits, and the ones noted above, give you ample reasons to be
adventurous in adding spices to your meals, and to be generous in the
amounts you use. It will be worth it for the flavor enhancement alone,
and the boost it will give your health is the icing on the cake.
There's obviously much more to herbs and spices than the garlic, saffron
and turmeric mentioned in this article … you can get more information on
healing herbs, including how to select spices for their medicinal
Garlic for Your Health
Garlic has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for
thousands of years, dating at least as far back as the time that the
Giza pyramids were built.
Benefits of Cumin
The popular spice cumin has a long history of medicinal use. It has been
used to treat various symptoms including diarrhea, flatulence,
gynecological, and respiratory diseases. But a new study looked at a
different effect of cumin -- its ability to enhance memory and relieve
Oil Supplement Findings
and supplements to fight inflammation
Fight Inflammation Some quick tips on lowering pain and
Humpty Dumpty's Guide to Healthy Eating for
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