Global Health Asia-Pacific Issue 2 | 2023 | Page 26

Holistic Health

Garlic is good for your health but no magic bullet

The legendary plant is just one part of the healthy diet equation

In European mythology it was used to keep vampires at bay . Today , it ’ s often touted for its protection against several health conditions including heart disease and the common cold , but while garlic is no miracle food , it should still be part of a healthy diet to reap the general benefits of eating clean .

�There is a lot of folklore as to the beneficial health effects of garlic in the diet , � �r Alan Slusarenko , a professor of plant physiology at RWTH Aachen University in Germany , told CNN . “ However , we have no data from controlled clinical trials .”
Some studies did show that garlic consumption could help lower blood cholesterol , blood pressure , and blood sugar levels , which , if too high , can increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes . But “ typically , those effects are observed when quite high supplemental doses of garlic powder are given ,” Dr Kristina Petersen , assistant professor in the department of nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University , told the American Heart Association News , meaning the couple of cloves people usually use for their dishes will have a much lower effect than a supplement .
�I wouldn ’ t recommend somebody take a garlic supplement ,” she added . “ There might be some situations where it might be indicated , but this should be done in consultation with a physician .”
In rare cases , garlic supplements can cause headaches , fatigue , appetite loss , muscle aches , dizziness , and asthma attacks or skin rashes , according to the Cleveland Clinic .
Similarly , a 2014 review concluded that there was insufficient evidence to back up the notion that garlic can prevent the common cold , though one single trial suggested that it could . Another review looking at 83 human trials highlighted that garlic is “ a promising candidate for preventing and treating different health conditions ,” but more research is needed to gather stronger evidence . For instance , the review found that credible data show a potential association between garlic intake and a reduced risk of several cancers including colon , prostate , and ovary malignancies , but the trials are too few and the number of people involved too small to draw any solid conclusion .
Regardless , eating garlic in normal amounts is a healthy choice , Dr Petersen said . “ I eat quite a bit of garlic . It ’ s great in salads , but also on vegetables . If you ’ re baking vegetables in the oven , it really brings out the flavor . � She added that this could be the �real health benefit� of garlic as it helps people eat more vegetables by making them tastier .
�I think it ’ s a versatile food , and it definitely has a place in healthy dietary patterns ,” she said . “ And while it may not have really significant health benefits per se , it has a place as part of healthy mixed diets .”
Indeed , garlic is often part of the Mediterranean diet , which is associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and many other chronic conditions like diabetes and cancer . But the same benefits can be gained from any diet with a significant amount of vegetables .
Garlic is often part of the Mediterranean diet , which is associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and many other chronic conditions like diabetes and cancer .
24 ISSUE 2 | 2023 GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com