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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

11 Amazing Health Benefits of Garlic (Backed by Science)

11 Amazing Health Benefits of Garlic (Backed by Science)

What is the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of garlic? You probably think of the smell. You might have even been reminded of a junior high trauma after the garlic smell scared off your crush. Or you could even think of a high-end cuisine that was spiced up with this incredible delicacy. However, I bet you didn’t think of the incredible, science-backed health benefits of garlic, a potent vegetable (and yes…garlic is technically a vegetable and not a spice).

Throughout this article, prepare to have you mind blown with the potential of garlic and how this “natural supplement” can power up your life!

1. Potent Medicine

While we might think of garlic as a mere spice today, people in ancient times used it primarily as medicine!

According to science, most of the benefits are caused by the “sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed”[1].

Because of these properties, garlic can help with detoxification and the health of our joints. If that doesn’t leave you wanting to pop some garlic along with your supplements, I don’t know what will!

2. Improves Blood Flow

A 2004 study came to the conclusion that garlic intake helped to significantly increase blood flow to various areas of the body[2]. The study suggested that this was due to the way garlic affected levels of interleukin-6, a chemical that affects inflammation in the body. Whatever the reason, increased blood flow is a major health benefit of garlic!

3. Boosts the Immune System

I’m sure this one doesn’t come as much of a surprise! Ever since many of us were kids, we were fed garlic at the first onset of a cold! One study discovered that, in a 12-week timespan, daily garlic pills reduced the number of cold by 63% compared to a placebo[3].

Evidence for this was based on both traditional use and some evidence that garlic contains both antimicrobial and anti-viral properties.

Needless to say, garlic could be an essential powerhouse to keep in your arsenal!

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4. Boosts Metabolism

I’m sure you all were wondering, so here it is. YES! Garlic does actually help boost metabolism!

I’m sure you might be wondering how. The first way is that it comes packed with vitamin C, B6, manganese, and calcium, all of which are essential for fat loss. Second is that garlic can lower insulin resistance, which is such an important factor for a healthy metabolism and weight! Not only that, but garlic also can be helpful to detox our body; an essential factor in losing weight.

Our friends might not appreciate our love for garlic, but our bodies sure do!

5. Cleanses the Body

It might seem counter-intuitive that something with such a pungent smell could actually help cleanse your body, but it can. Well…from the inside anyway!

The sulfhydryl compounds in garlic are incredibly powerful in helping to rid your body of toxins[4]. While, for the most part, our liver does a fantastic job of cleansing our body, we also live in a very toxic world. That being said, getting a little assistance definitely can’t hurt!

The properties in garlic can actually help boost detox enzymes in our bodies. Garlic can work synergistically with milk thistle, if you want an even more powerful detox. Some people even drink garlic with warm lemon water each morning for a bonus detox boost.

So, yes! Garlic can definitely clean your insides. However, you might want to put a little extra TLC into cleaning the rest if you choose to chew it raw.

6. Reduces Cholesterol

High cholesterol seems to be a battle many people are fighting these days. Thankfully, with the amazing health benefits of garlic, this powerful little vegetable could come to the rescue!

While evidence is limited, there have been some cases to show that garlic reduces cholesterol[5]. Since it has been proven to lower insulin resistance when taken consistently, this would make sense.

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Studies show that it should be taken daily for at least eight weeks to see results. However, the results might be limited, so it’s important to help solve the problem with regular exercise and diet as well.

For more on how to naturally reduce cholesterol, check out this article: Complete Guide: How To Lower Cholesterol Naturally

7. Increases Athletic Performance

It might make you smell your sweat more, but can garlic actually increase athletic performance? Some people say yes!

For one, garlic is high in antioxidants, which can help protect the body from stress (including the stress of working out). However, there might be another scientific reason for this as well. Garlic can increase nitric oxide[6], which in turns dilates blood vessels to increase blood flow. This is the same reason why beets are known to increase workout performance.

Garlic was one of the first athletic enhancements on the market! In fact, garlic was used by athletes even in ancient Greece[7].

With all these benefits, it definitely can’t hurt to try and see if it helps you!

8. Anti-Fungal Properties

Garlic doesn’t stop at just killing off viruses and bad bacteria in your body. It kills fungi, too! This is one of the major health benefits of garlic.

With the modern S.A.D diet (Standard American Diet) many of us have become accustomed to, our bodies have become practical breeding grounds of microbes we don’t want around. Fungus could be very likely included in that list.

Candida is a fungus that all of us have. However, some studies have shown that candida could “overgrow” in our bodies[8] as a result of too much sugar, processed foods, and an overall poor diet. Some studies suggest that this could result in weight gain, cravings, and many other poor side effects.

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Many people who experience athlete’s foot have already experienced the side effects of candida and fungus overgrowth.

Thankfully, garlic can be a powerful component in fighting off this negative overgrowth! With the same properties that make it an anti-microbial, garlic is powerful at fighting off many other unwanted visitors in your body.

9. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Anti-inflammatory has become somewhat of a buzzword these days! But for good reason. Many people claim that inflammation could actually be a leading cause for disease.

This chronic inflammation has left many with conditions like diabetes, allergies, and arthritis, just to name a few! To help cure these issues, it’s essential to tackle the underlying problem as well: inflammation.

Thankfully, garlic can pack a powerful punch against inflammation in the body. According to recent research, garlic could be used to fight arthritis because of its anti-inflammatory superpowers[9].

While diet still plays a huge role in reducing inflammation, garlic could also be an incredible addition to jump-start your healthy lifestyle.

10. Decreases Heavy Metals

As mentioned before, garlic is powerful in reducing toxins in the body. Reducing heavy metals is another benefit of this and, perhaps, one of the most surprising health benefits of garlic.

Studies with garlic were used on patients with lead poisoning. The results were rather shocking!

Previously, it was scientifically proven that garlic used on animals could reduce heavy metal toxicity. Later, the effects were proven in humans tested with lead poisoning.

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117 factory workers were tested for high lead concentrations in their blood. These workers were divided into two groups: one for garlic and one for d-penicillamine for 4 weeks. The results for garlic were impressive! It reduced irritability and headaches and decreased deep tendon reflex and systolic blood pressure, while the d-penicillamine didn’t see any results. The group who took garlic also tested for lower concentrations of lead[10].

While heavy metal toxicity is rare, it can also be an underlying cause for some chronic health concerns. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to stay on top of it and ensure your body is properly ridding itself of metal toxicity through garlic.

11. Aids Weight Loss

With all of it’s powerful components, it should not be a surprise that garlic can help overall weight loss efforts. Garlic’s combined efforts in reducing fungus and microbes, balancing blood sugar, and increasing workout performance can lead to overall weight loss.

This is a huge green light for many people hoping to find an extra way to boost their efforts.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, if we take care of our bodies, our bodies will take care of us. For many of us, the key isn’t about figuring out the best fat-burner or anti-inflammatory pill on the market. It’s about learning to nurture our bodies so that it will work properly for us in return.

Since garlic can help achieve overall balance in our bodies, we can rest assured that it will help us reach our fitness and health goals as well. Next time you’re making lunch, chop up a bit of garlic and throw it in. Your body will thank you!

More Nutritional Foods

Featured photo credit: Yogesh Pedamkar via photopin.comhttps

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Katelyn Delaney

Owner of Revifi -- Fitness Training & Life Coaching

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Published on January 14, 2021

How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Week

How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Week

Meal plans are a great way to cut down waste, make shopping for food quicker and easier, and help you to stick to healthy choices. But where do you start? What makes a healthy meal plan for the week, and how do you know what to include?

Firstly, there is no healthy meal plan that works for everyone. At different stages of your life, you will need different levels of nutrients, but there are some general principles that you can follow, and then adjust as necessary. Here’s how to create a healthy meal plan for the week.

The Backbone of Your Healthy Meal Plan

For the vast majority of adults, these practical tips should be the backbone of your meal plan:

  • A range of fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grain carbohydrates (brown rice, brown bread, millet, bulgar wheat, etc)
  • Fermented food such as kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut
  • Unsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil, rapeseed oil, avocados, and nuts
  • Two portions of oily fish such as salmon per week (or nuts and seeds if you don’t eat fish)
  • A handful of nuts and seeds a day
  • Aim for 30g of fiber a day
  • Eat a range of beans and pulses (such as chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, and lentils)
  • Drink approximately 8 glasses of water a day[1]

Calorie Counting

A calorie is the energy required to raise the temperature of 1g water from 14.5 to 15.5°Celsius. This is calculated in a laboratory, by burning the food. However, the food is not “burnt” in our bodies, and people’s metabolism and energy expenditure vary, so it’s a very rough estimate.

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The absorption and, therefore, how much energy is available for you to use, is also affected by how the food is processed. An example of this is sweetcorn. If you grind it down into a powder and make a tortilla, you will absorb far more calories than if you eat whole sweetcorn kernels. Instead, you will see most of the kernels untouched, in the toilet!

Another concern with calories is that instead of thinking about nutrient quality, it promotes prioritizing quantity. For example, there is a huge difference in the number of nutrients you could consume in 500 calories of fruit and vegetables, versus 500 calories of ice cream.

Also the number of calories you need varies according to so many factors, such as age, gender, lifestyle, and activity level, that it is hard to accurately predict exactly how many you need. Instead, I prefer to recommend a general principle of how to balance your plate and a reminder to eat mindfully when you are physically hungry, not because of an emotional trigger.

How to Balance Your Plate

When thinking of your healthy meal plan, for each meal your plate should contain approximately:

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  • Fruit and vegetables (1/2 plate)
  • Whole grains (1/4 plate)
  • Lean protein (1/4 plate)
  • A spoon of unsaturated oil

This will help you when you think of each meal to work out what to include and approximate portion sizes.

An Example Day

Breakfast

  • Overnight oats, with chia seeds, quinoa and milk or fortified plant based milk
  • A piece of fruit

Snack

  • A handful of mixed nuts

Lunch

  • Grilled tofu with a mixed salad and bulgar wheat
  • A piece of fruit

Snack

  • Apple slices with nut butter

Dinner

  • Chicken / tofu / salmon with miso brown rice and spring greens
  • OR vegetable curry, daal, and brown rice
  • OR stuffed aubergine with mixed vegetables and millet or quinoa
  • A piece of fruit

How to Adjust Your Meal Plan

There are certain phases when more or less nutrients are needed, so it is important to consider your changing needs.

When You’re Pregnant

During your pregnancy, you should limit oily fish to once a week, and only 2 tuna steaks or 4 medium sized cans of tuna per week, because of the risk of pollution.

You should also avoid the following food groups:

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  • Raw or undercooked eggs
  • Unpasteurized cheese
  • Raw or undercooked meat
  • Pâté
  • Swordfish, shark, and marlin
  • Homemade ice-cream with raw egg
  • Soft-serve ice cream from vans or kiosks
  • Vitamin A supplements
  • Liquorice root
  • Alcohol

When You’re Breastfeeding

While you are breastfeeding, your body needs more calcium (1250mg), selenium (70mcg), and iodine (200mcg). Ensure that you include these in your meal plan.

When Going Through Menopause

Menopause

changes your long-term risk of disease, so it is important to focus on items that help support bone and heart health. The framework above already sets out a diet to support long term heart health, but for bone health aim for:

  • 1200mg calcium per day
  • High-quality protein at every meal
  • Foods rich in vitamin K
  • Foods rich in phosphorus
  • Foods rich in magnesium

Organizing Your Shopping

Once you have completed your healthy meal plan for the week, you can save the ingredients that you regularly need to an online shopping list, in order to make repeat ordering simpler. Some recipe books also now have a QR code so that you can easily synchronize the ingredients needed with your online shopping.

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Try to eat seasonal fruit and vegetables where possible, but canned beans, frozen, dried, and freeze dried fruit make great substitutes for fresh, retaining most of the nutrients.

Final Thoughts

Creating a healthy meal plan for the week may be daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’ll become a fun addition to your weekly planning, and one that will ultimately improve your overall lifestyle. Try to use the general feedback above and adapt it to your own specific needs. Enjoy looking for new and exciting recipes to include in your plan!

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Featured photo credit: Ello via unsplash.com

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