Plants help human beings and the environment to exist on earth. Human beings use plant products for various purposes. They use them to derive products such as food, medicine, clothing, soaps, gums, rubber, turpentine, plastics, renewable fuels and latex among others. These products are essential for human survival, growth, and development. Plants are, therefore, indispensable on earth due to their benefits. While some plants are rarely used to derive products for human consumption, others are widely used due to their range of benefits. One of these beneficial plants is garlic. Garlic is a bulb plant of the Allium class but has a pungent taste and a strong smell and has its roots in Central Asia (Tsai 18). Garlic can either be cooked or consumed in its raw form. Apart from basically being used in the kitchen to flavor food, garlic has other benefits due to its high sulfur content, and the presence of crucial elements such as selenium, flavonoids, oligosaccharides, and arginine (Bongiomo 3). These contents make garlic beneficial to human beings in various ways. This paper looks at the benefits of garlic.
One of the benefits of garlic is that it helps in the treatment of common colds and infections due to the presence of allicin. The medicinal value in garlic is very crucial in not only killing most of the microorganisms that cause infections and colds but also keeping them at bay thus preventing the consumer from contracting them. According to research, the antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties of garlic make it particularly helpful in relieving and preventing common infections and colds. Those who regularly take garlic are less likely to contract colds and if they do, they heal faster than those who do not (Tsai 22). Such studies reveal that garlic is an essential component in the prevention and treatment of common colds and infections. The allicin component, in particular, contains powerful antimicrobial properties that are beneficial to the health of an individual. This demonstrates that garlic is a very useful plant in promoting good health.
Another benefit of garlic is that it helps avert and treat heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease. In most cases, heart diseases result from constricted arteries and accumulation of cholesterol in the areas surrounding the heart. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that one of the leading killer diseases in the United States is heart disease (Brace 35). Garlic works by reducing the LDL cholesterol in the body due to its medicinal properties. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is a protein that carries cholesterol in the bloodstream and if it is high in quantity, then it is a risk factor for cardiovascular or heart disease (Leech 1). Regular consumption of garlic helps reduce the LDL in the body by getting rid of the buildup of plaque in the arteries (Brace 38). This explains why garlic is widely recognized as a good remedy for cardiovascular diseases.
Apart from being used as a therapy for common colds and cardiovascular disease, garlic is also beneficial in the management of diabetes. Diabetes occurs when the blood sugar levels of an individual become abnormally high. The blood sugar requires regulation for it to work effectively in the body. This is where garlic comes in handy. According to research, regular garlic consumption helps in regulating blood sugar level, fighting infections and encouraging blood circulation thus decreasing or stopping the impact of some complications, such as nephropathy and atherosclerosis, arising from diabetes (Borek 1012s). This explains why a diabetic patient who consumes garlic regularly is less likely to suffer from diabetic complications compared to those who do not. A recent study revealed that daily consumption of raw garlic lowers blood sugar, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels by over 50% (Bongiomo 4). With these reduced levels of harmful components, the overall health of a diabetic is generally improved since complications are mitigated. Therefore, garlic is very important in managing diabetes.
Garlic is also highly beneficial in the kitchen. It helps in flavoring food and making it tastier. Although it can be consumed raw or cooked, the benefits of garlic in the kitchen are better realized when it is crushed or chopped then left to for about ten minutes before it is heated or eaten (Tsai 22). This is because, according to research, the chopping or crushing stimulates the alliinase enzymes while allowing it to rest for a few minutes lets these enzymes to change the allin found in the garlic into allicin which then breaks down into useful compounds (Tsai 25). Raw garlic can be added to baked or roasted recipes, stew, soup, tomato sauce, marinade, meat, and vegetables to intensify the health benefits and taste. The most interesting thing about garlic is that whether cooked or eaten raw, the nutritional value is not altered. However, eating raw garlic is associated with bad breath thus many people prefer the cooked to the raw variety. Nevertheless, the nutritional and culinary value is the most important component of the plant.
Additionally, garlic helps in controlling blood pressure. Blood pressure that is either too high or too low is dangerous and requires medical attention. However, the regular consumption of garlic has been proved to help control blood pressure. Research shows that the polysulfides found in garlic promote the widening or opening of blood vessels thus lowering blood pressure (Borek 1014s). Administering a standardized dose of garlic to a hypertensive patient every day can work as effectively as a prescription medication for hypertension (Leech 1). A study conducted involving fifty participants, who had high blood pressure and were on antihypertensive drugs, found out that the extract from aged garlic reduced blood pressure by at least ten points when taken as an adjunct form of therapy (Brace 43). Such research findings demonstrate that garlic is very beneficial to health as it helps in controlling blood pressure.
Also, the consumption of garlic helps in the reduction of the risk to certain cancers. Considering that the cause of cancer is unknown, and there is no cure for the disease, lowering the risk of getting it is very beneficial to human beings. Research shows that garlic reduces the risk. The protective impact of garlic arises from its antibacterial properties. According to the National Cancer Institute, garlic enhances the repair of DNA, induces the death of unwanted cells, blocks the formation and activation of substances that cause cancer, and reduces the proliferation of cells (Tsai 28). These processes reduce the risk of certain cancers such as pancreatic, colon, breast and stomach cancers. The bioactive sulfur elements in garlic are believed to affect every cancer formation stage thus impacting on a range of biological processes which modify the risk of cancer (Leech 1). This means that garlic is a plant that has a very high potential of helping fight cancer. This benefit cannot be overlooked as one considers the benefits of garlic.
Garlic is also used as a remedy to alopecia. Alopecia is a skin disease associated with hair loss and it affects both males and females. The continuous application of garlic gel can treat baldness. According to researchers from Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, applying garlic gel on one's scalp increases their chances of gaining hair especially if it is done for a period of at least three months (Borek 1014s). This is good news considering that the cure for hair loss is unknown. People lose hair due to various unavoidable circumstances thus a remedy for the issue is welcome. However, it is important to note that the garlic gel is not used in isolation. It is used with topical corticosteroid so as to increase the therapeutic efficacy of the medication (Bongiomo 2). Nevertheless, the information available shows that the garlic plant is beneficial to human beings since it mitigates hair loss.
Also, the garlic plant is beneficial to an individual in terms of the aging process. Aging comes with a lot of challenges. This is because most of the energy has already been depleted and the body organs are no longer as vibrant as they were before. Cognitive diseases such as Dementia and Alzheimer's begin to set in due to the weakening body organs. Garlic, according to research, comprises antioxidants which can help prevent these diseases by supporting the protective mechanisms of the body against any oxidative impairment (Leech 1). Garlic is also associated with a healthy individual. Since it prevents and mitigates conditions such as heart disease and blood pressure, it helps one live longer and decrease the chances of developing cognitive diseases. Garlic is, therefore, a very useful plant to mankind.
Finally, it is clear that human beings use plants for various purposes. One of these plants is garlic. The garlic plant is highly beneficial to the human race. Apart from being used to flavor food, garlic is beneficial in a variety of ways. It is used to treat common infections and colds, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, hair loss, and cognitive diseases. It also helps mitigate and prevent certain types of cancer. Such benefits can be derived from the garlic plant irrespective of whether it is consumed in its raw form or cooked. Apart from the bad breath that may emanate from eating raw garlic, the plant is full of benefits. Therefore, it is important to recognize the fact that garlic is a highly beneficial plant that has no negative impact on the environment.
Bongiorno, Peter B., Patrick M. Fratellone, and Pina LoGiudice. "Potential health benefits of garlic (Allium sativum): a narrative review." Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine 5.1 (2008).
Borek, Carmia. "Antioxidant health effects of aged garlic extract." The Journal of Nutrition 131.3 (2001): 1010S-1015S.
Brace, Larry D. "Cardiovascular benefits of garlic (Allium sativum L)." Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing 16.4 (2002): 33-49.
Leech, Joe. "11 proven health benefits of garlic." Healthline (2018). Available at https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-garlic
Tsai, Chia-Wen, et al. "Garlic: Health benefits and actions." BioMedicine 2.1 (2012): 17-29.
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