Garlic – Cancer Fighting Food:
Garlic is known for its health benefits. Research supported its antifungal and antibacterial properties. Garlic was better known for its ability to lower cholesterol. While research studies till 1995 were supportive about this ability of garlic recent studies were controversial. Most of the people and researchers still believe about its cholesterol lowering capacity. However, latest studies discovered another novel benefit of garlic, the anticancer activity.
Garlic is a major source of a chemical called “allicin”. The rupture of the cell wall releases this chemical. Allicin is not found on an intact garlic clove. Allicin is further converted into diallyl sulphides when exposed to heat and air over time. The health benefits of these two chemicals included the antifungal, antibacterial, circulatory, and cholesterol-lowering effects as well as the capacity to boost the immune system till now.
Latest research on allicin brought its anticancer activity in to lime light. A study by Oomen et al showed that allicin is capable of checking the growth of the cancer cells by inducing apoptosis. Apoptosis is defined as “suicidal death of the cell as induced by certain chemical changes”. Allicin induces caspase-mediated apoptosis in the cancer cells1. Another study by Hirsch et al demonstrated that allicin inhibits proliferation of human breast, uterine, and colon cancer cells2. These are very new findings of allicin. The status of garlic is further enhanced as a precious medical herb with studies demonstrating the anticancer benefits anticancer benefits of garlic.
Studies noted that allicin is released only on chopping or crushing the glove but not having it full. Cooking enhances the breakdown of allicin lowering its medicinal capabilities. Therefore consuming raw garlic has better results. Research also showed that incidence of stomach and colon cancer is low in the people whose food culture includes garlic as an essential ingredient. Nevertheless, there are few obstacles in consuming raw garlic – strong odor and few people being allergic to garlic. Odorless garlic and garlic pearls (garlic oil in a capsule) provide alternative ways of consuming raw garlic. The medical experts suggest the daily intake of raw garlic to be at about 800 to 900 mg for having its claimed health benefits. Caution should be taken as garlic is allergic to few and if consumed in large quantities can cause irritation of the stomach and intestinal lining.
Garlic is a wonderful herb with excellent medicinal properties. While its novel health benefit ‘anticancer activity’ is to be studied further garlic has a myriad of health benefits as of now.
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