Did you know that ancient Greek and Roman soldiers ate garlic to enhance their strength and endurance before going to war? Garlic is indeed one of the most beneficial foods you can ingest because of its many medicinal properties. Green Med Info has listed more than 150 health benefits of garlic, such as:
- Inhibiting cholesterol accumulation
- Reducing risk for heart attack and stroke
- Helping fight drug-resistant bacteria
- Lessening cadmium-induced liver damage
- Providing protective effects against cancer (link)
How Does Garlic Benefit Your Health?
Dr. Joseph Mercola says that garlic’s benefits come in multiple levels—it has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antioxidant properties. He believes that the therapeutic effects of this helpful herb come from allicin and other sulfur-containing compounds, which also produces its pungent odor. According to research, when allicin from garlic is digested in your body, it creates sulfenic acid, a compound that reacts with dangerous free radicals. This is why garlic is one of Dr. Mercola’s recommended anti-aging foods. Garlic also helps fight yeast infections, viruses, parasites, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA.
Your heart can also benefit from garlic. This healthy spice helps relax and enlarge the blood vessels in your body and promote proper blood flow. This may help you avoid conditions like high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke. Garlic also prevents plaque from forming in your arteries, and stops the oxidation of cholesterol, a condition that may contribute to heart disease.
Garlic is also known to help increase your protection from breast, colon, ovarian, prostate, and esophageal cancers. A study observed participants who ate vegetables from the allium family, particularly onions and garlic, and discovered that their risks of certain cancers were reduced. Dr. Mercola says this effect may come from garlic’s ability to increase tissue activities of phase II detoxification enzymes, which help your body excrete chemicals and other toxins (link).
The Best Way to Eat Garlic
Dr. Mercola says that the best way to eat garlic is to chop, smash, or press a whole, fresh clove and then let it sit for a few minutes before eating it. This changes the allicin into its most beneficial form. Avoid eating jarred, powdered, or dried garlic because it’s not as healthy as fresh garlic.
Saffron: Another Spice You Should Not Miss Out On
Saffron is another spice that deserves attention, says Dr. Mercola. Although it is not well-known in the U.S., it is commonly used in Persian, Indian, European, and Turkish cuisine because of its unique and sweet, grassy flavor. Saffron is derived from the crocus plant’s flower and appears like a reddish thread. It is rich in carotenoid antioxidants and has been valued since the ancient times for its medicinal uses.
Today, studies reveal that saffron may be beneficial in treating mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease (link). In a 22-week, double-blind study of patients with Alzheimer’s, a saffron supplement gave the same benefits as the drug donepezil (brand name Aricept) did, but with significantly less unpleasant side effects such as vomiting.
Herbs and spices like garlic and saffron are good for you, so be adventurous in adding them to your meals. This is a simple way to achieve optimal health.