Native to central Asia, garlic has a lengthy history dating back 6,000 years. Long a staple of Mediterranean diets, garlic was a commonly used seasoning in the cuisines of Africa, Asia and Europe. China is currently the world’s biggest producer of garlic followed by India, South Korea, Egypt and Russia.
Throughout ancient history, the main use of garlic was for its health and medicinal properties. Regarded as a force of both good and evil, the Egyptians are said to have fed the herb to workers building the Great Pyramid of Giza because they believed it boosted their stamina. In the Middle Ages, plague-phobic Europeans ate whole cloves of garlic to fight off the scourge known as the Black Death.
Some noted benefits of garlic include:
- Garlic is low in calories and rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese. It also contains trace amounts of various other nutrients. It contains sulfur compounds, which are believed to bring some of the health benefits.
- Garlic supplements help prevent and reduce the severity of common illnesses like the flu and common cold.
- The Active Compounds in Garlic Can Reduce Blood Pressure
- Cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes are the world's biggest killers.
- High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the most important drivers of these diseases.
- Human studies have found garlic supplements to have a significant impact on reducing blood pressure in people with high blood pressure
- Garlic can lower total and LDL cholesterol; for those with high cholesterol, garlic supplements appear to reduce total and/or LDL cholesterol by about 10–15%
- Garlic contains antioxidants that support the body's protective mechanisms against oxidative damage. Oxidative damage from free radicals contributes to the aging process. The combined effects on reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as the antioxidant properties, may reduce the risk of common brain diseases like Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
- At high doses, the sulfur compounds in garlic have been shown to protect against organ damage from heavy metal toxicity.
- One study in menopausal women found that a daily dose of dry garlic extract (equal to 2 grams of raw garlic) significantly decreased a marker of estrogen deficiency.