Benefits of consuming garlic
Its powerful flavor and smell characterize it. Garlic plays a leading role in the Mediterranean diet and helps reduce the salt we add to dishes. Miguel Ángel Martínez Olmos, member of the nutrition area of the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition (SEEN), and Josep Allué, member of Medicinal Plants and Homeopathy of the Barcelona College of Pharmacists (COFB) talk to us about its nutrients, benefits and false virtues. ).
Garlic is a plant in the same family as onions, leeks and shallots. It is cultivated in large areas of the world and widely used in cooking. Regarding its origin, it is said that it arrived in the Near East about four thousand years ago from central Asia. Its use in India and Egypt is documented in the third millennium BC.
What nutrients does garlic contain?
“Garlic contains significant amounts of some micronutrients such as manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C and selenium, and is low in calories. It is rich in polyphenols and other antioxidant substances, which increase more in black garlic (obtained through a transformation of white garlic at constant temperature and humidity),” highlights Martínez Olmos.
The garlic bulb includes about 1 percent of the sulfur amino acid alliin, which is converted to allicin (or diallyl disulfide) when this food is crushed. Allicin and its derivative products, ajoenes, are responsible for the characteristic odor. This is explained by the COFB expert, adding that “it also contains proteinogenic amino acids, various sulfur compounds (mainly allyl disulfide), quercetin, fructans (mainly inulin), mineral elements (potassium, calcium, manganese, selenium) and other B vitamins, in addition to B6 (B1, B2, B3 and B5)”.
Beneficios para la salud
The main benefits of garlic, says Martínez Olmos, “derive from its richness in antioxidant substances. Historically, it was widely used as a remedy for various diseases. Currently, there is scientific data that supports its use. Certain benefits have been demonstrated for control in people with high blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia and type 2 diabetes mellitus.”
Along the same lines, Allué indicates that “garlic has hypotensive and lipid-lowering properties, improving blood circulation and helping people with cholesterol problems. It is also an antiplatelet agent, so its excessive consumption or in concentrated forms can interfere with anticoagulant medications.”
“In the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, the presence of garlic and spices is claimed within the framework of this dietary pattern, not only to reduce salt, but also to provide nutrients and protection to the body. They are elements very present in Mediterranean gastronomy that give character to the dishes,” points out Anna Bach-Faig, member of Food and Nutrition at the COFB.
To obtain these benefits, the World Health Organization (WHO) gives the following guidelines: a daily dose of 2 to 5 g of fresh garlic (about one clove of garlic), 0.4 to 1.2 g of garlic in dry powder, 2 to 5 mg of garlic oil, 300 to 1,000 mg of garlic extract, or other equivalent formulations of between 2 and 5 mg of allicin. “Always in the context of a Mediterranean-style diet and healthy lifestyle habits,” points out Martínez Olmos.