Garlic is an important staple in the healthy minded kitchen.
Reinvesting some time to reinforce your knowledge of the beneficial bulb will deepen the character you craft into your delectable creations and perhaps even impress your guests as well.
I return to Dr. Michael Weiner and another of his books “The Antioxidant Cookbook” (1995). His well researched and written text contains just enough biochemical details to expand the average enthusiast’s mind for the subject. Enjoy!
Scientific Name: Allium sativum
Parts Used: Cloves
Dosage: 1/2 teaspoon of the juice 3 times daily
Recent Scientific Findings
As knowledge about the benefits of Garlic continues to spread from folklore into mainstream medicine, numerous claims are being made regarding various Garlic products. Before looking at some of these claims we should summarize the health significance of Garlic and Garlic constituents.
One of the world’s leading authorities on this subject is Dr. Eric Block, a professor of chemistry at the State University of New York at Albany. His review article published in Scientific American remains an important summary of the chemistry of this fascinating plant.
To summarize, here are some of the claimed nutritional and pharmacological properties of Garlic:
1. Lowers serum total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol in humans.
2. Raises high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL’s), in humans.
3. Reduces the tendency of blood to clot, and the aggregation (i.e. clumping) of blood platelets.
4. Inhibits inflammation by modulating the conversion of arachidonic acid (A.A.) to eicosanids.
5. Inhibits cancer cell formation and proliferation by inhibiting nitrosamine formation, modulating the metabolism of polyarene carcinogens, and acting on cell enzymes which control cell division.
6. Protects the liver from damage induced by synthetic drugs and chemical pollutants.
7. Kills intestinal parasites and worms, as well as gram-negative bacteria.
8. Protects against the effects of radiation.
9. Offers antioxidant protection to cell membranes.
Some of these health effects are worth looking at in more detail. Perhaps most significant is the effect of Garlic and onion and their extracts on the lipid profile of blood and tissues. They lower cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels while also increasing the beneficial cholesterol, HDL.
Both Garlic and onion oils inhibit the enzymes lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase. Each of these enzymes is known to act on one of two parallel biochemical pathways (within the arachidonic acid cascade) and only by inhibiting these enzymes can this pathway be arrested. When arrested, the production of prostaglandin is slowed. Since many cancers are prostaglandin dependent, this may explain why the allium oils have antitumor properties.
Garlic and onion contain over 75 different sulfur-containing compounds. While most of the medical benefits derived from supplementation with extracts of these plants are a result of these sulfurous compounds, recent studies show the additional
presence of the bioflavonoids quercitin and cyanidin.
The cellular antioxidant Selenium is another constituent found in the allium vegetables and their extracts. The antitumor effects claimed for selenium may be based on its ability to replace the sulphur in the amino acid 1-cystine. Leukemic white
blood cells have a rapid turnover of 1-cystine, a similar amino acid, and by substituting selenium for sulphur, leukemia can be suppressed, in animals.
Recent research in China demonstrated a significant inverse relationship between the incidence of stomach cancer and the intake of Garlic and related allium vegetables.
The research interviewed 1131 controls and 564 patients with stomach cancer and found that people with no stomach cancer ate significantly higher amounts of allium vegetables (a mean intake of 19 0 kg/year) than did the cancer patients (a mean intake of 15.5 kg/year). Those people who ate less than 11.5 kg/year were more than twice as likely to develop stomach cancer than were people who ate more than 24 kg/year.
Researchers at the Garlic Research Bureau in Suffolk, England, recently found “that even small amounts of Garlic, say 3 or 4 grams, will have a pronounced effect on fibrinolytic activity … in doses from 25 grams (10 cloves) to 50 grams Garlic seems to be highly effective in promoting beneficial changes in blood fat composition and in platelet adhesiveness.”
To understand which type of Garlic the raw, the cooked, or the preserved – may be most beneficial, we must look at the chemical changes which occur inside a Garlic clove. Fresh whole Garlic is pharmacologically inactive. When crushed, an internal
enzyme acts on alliin, a sulphur-containing amino acid, to produce the reactive compound known as allicin. Left to stand in the air or when cooked, allicin is destroyed.
While there is no final scientific agreement on the therapeutically active component of Garlic, there is a consensus that allicin is very important, both as an active component itself or as a precursor of other active components. Because it is unstable, it has been difficult to manufacture a Garlic product with significant amounts of allicin. The term “allicin potential” has been created to refer to the established standard of activity found in fresh Garlic. Obviously, fresh Garlic is highly desirable, for those who can tolerate the strong taste and aroma.
To receive Garlic’s benefits without consuming cloves and cloves each day utilize the product form. The minimum effective dosage for benefiting the cardiovascular system is one dove (3 grams of fresh or 1 gram of dried) per day. Obviously more would increase these benefits.
To prevent the pungent odor from seeping out in the breath some manufacturers are utilizing enteric coating. This moves the breakdown of alliin and alynase from the stomach to the small intestine.
(Thank you, Dr. Mike).
My note: According one of my acupuncture colleagues, Erik Smith, L.Ac., Dipl. OM, MSN, in his book “The Power of Nutrient Therapy” (2005) he states that chopping Garlic and letting it air for 10 minutes will unlock the potential of the allicin. Followed this by promptly adding it into your cooking toward the last minute and then cover to retain the nutrients.
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