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Cholesterol : Healing Foods: Garlic

Although garlic is extremely popular, few know that it is actually a member of the lily family. Garlic is a native to Central Asia, and as one of the oldest cultivated plants, its usage predates written history. Sanskrit records document the medical use of garlic as long as 5,000 years ago, while the Chinese have been using it in cooking for over 3,000 years. Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Pliny all cite therapeutic uses for garlic, and it has been seen as a traditional treatment for ailments such as coughs, diphtheria, hypertension, and toothaches, among others.

Nutritional Highlights:
  • Garlic is an excellent source of vitamins B6 and C, manganese, and selenium.
  • It also provides the minerals phosphorous, calcium, potassium, iron, and copper.
  • A 3 1/2-ounce serving contains just 149 calories.
Health Benefits:
  • Many of garlic's therapeutic properties are due in large part to its sulfur-containing compounds in the form of allicin, diallyl, and trace minerals selenium and germanium.
  • Chopping or crushing garlic stimulates the enzymatic possess, converting allinn to allicin -- the responsible compound for many of garlic's benefits.
  • By decreasing total serum cholesterol levels, and increasing serum HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels, garlic helps prevent heart disease.
  • The allicin in garlic is found to be effective against common infections such as colds and stomach viruses, as well as powerful pathogenic microbes such as tuberculosis and botulism.
  • Studies have shown garlic to be effective against colon cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, atherosclerosis, asthma, and gastrointestinal complains.
I've only touched on a few of the amazing benefits of garlic, as it is one of the most medicinal plants. You can benefit from garlic by consuming it chopped, sliced, or crushed. Add it to foods, sauces, and soups to not only improve their nutrition, but taste as well. For an easy snack or hors d'oeuvres, stuff pitted olives with pieces of garlic. Or puree 2 or more cloves of garlic, with garbanzo beans, sesame butter, olive oil, and lemon juice for a variation on hummus. For a more in-depth look at the benefits of garlic, and complete recipes using, turn to my Enyclopedia of Healing Foods.

Dr. Michael T. Murray is one of the world's leading authorities on natural medicine and the author of more than 30 bestselling books, including The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. He is a graduate and former faculty member, and serves on the Board of Regents, of Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. Please click here to take a quiz and find out your #1 Blood Sugar Challenge.
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