No one quite knows how to classify this culinary favorite…
Is it a spice? An herb? A vegetable? Or in a class of its own?
Whatever you call it, it’s one of the world’s favorite foods AND it does more for your overall health than almost anything you’re likely to find in a pharmacy. In fact, it may be one of the tastiest and most important ways you can avoid getting cancer for life.
Let’s take a look at garlic…
Garlic has been around for thousands of years dating back to when the pyramids were being built 5,000 years ago, as well as in Greek temples, and in ancient Israel, as proven by Biblical texts. This fragrant plant—yes, it’s a plant and it’s related to the onion and shallot— was administered to Olympic athletes in Greece as one of the earliest known “performance enhancing” agents.
And in ancient India, healers not only revered garlic for its therapeutic properties, but they believed it was an aphrodisiac as well.
The father of medicine, Hippocrates, prescribed garlic for a myriad of conditions – including parasites, poor digestion, respiratory problems, and fatigue.
History reveals that many cultures which had no contact with one another all came to much the same conclusions about the medicinal value of garlic. Now, modern science is adding some new benefits to the mix. Especially when it comes to garlic and its ability to fight cancer.
Slashes lung cancer risk by 44 percent
Eating raw garlic twice a week slashed lung cancer risk by 44 percent in non-smokers, and by 30 percent even in smokers. These results came from a population study which examined 1,424 lung cancer patients and 4,543 healthy people to learn about their diet, lifestyle, smoking habits, and garlic consumption.
The study’s authors saw a protective link between raw garlic consumption and lung cancer in a dose-responsive pattern. And the study suggests raw garlic may give you some protection from lung cancer even if you smoke.
This is just one of numerous studies in recent decades showing that garlic may cut the risk of lung cancer – and many other cancers.
A 55 to 80 percent reduction in almost
ALL major cancers
Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, reviewed hundreds of studies about garlic. They found that eating one to two cloves of garlic a day helps prevent cancer. Garlic eaters may cut their risk of stomach cancer in half, and their risk of colon cancer by one-third.
A large ten-country European study found a striking risk reduction in oral, esophageal, laryngeal, colorectal, breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers for garlic eaters. And not just a small reduction – an amazing 55 to 80 percent reduction!
Meanwhile, Chinese studies have linked eating large amounts of garlic (and its cousins, onions and shallots) to lowered rates of esophageal, stomach, and prostate cancers.
Pancreatic cancer risk dropped by a staggering 54 percent in those who ate large amounts of garlic compared to those who ate less, according to a 2005 San Francisco study. As this is one of the deadliest cancers, the study provides a powerful reason to make sure you eat some garlic on a regular basis.
The Iowa Women’s Study also found a strong link between high garlic consumption and a 50 percent reduction in colon cancer risk. But it’s hard to prove absolutely because research is lacking.
Conventional science overlooks the study of garlic
Not many randomized and controlled studies have been done on garlic. And some studies look at garlic along with other substances at the same time.
For instance, a large randomized trial of 5,000 Chinese men and women at high risk for stomach cancer found a reduction of stomach cancer for those consuming garlic plus selenium for five years. Their risk for all tumors dropped by a third, and stomach cancer risk plummeted 52 percent compared to the placebo group. But it’s impossible to say how much of the effect was due to garlic and how much to selenium.
Other studies support a correlation between garlic consumption and reduced risk of cancer but leave some questions unanswered. What kind of garlic – raw or cooked? If it was a supplement, what was done to account for differences among supplements?
It seems to make a difference – and it definitely adds to the complexity of proving a correlation.
As I’ve often pointed out in this newsletter, correlations must be viewed with caution. When two things tend to occur together, they’re correlated. But this is not proof that one of them caused the other. An example is the observation that if certain teams win the Super Bowl, the stock market will be up for the year. The two events are correlated but clearly one of them doesn’t cause the other.
However, I feel very confident adding garlic to my plan to beat cancer.
Heart benefits and more. . .
Garlic has many other health benefits, some of which are common knowledge and some of which aren’t. Indeed, it’s a natural blood thinner known for preventing plaque buildup linked to heart disease, stroke, and blood clots. It can lower blood pressure five to eight percent, and it may lead to better outcomes after a heart attack.
Studies show garlic may even help prevent colds.
Is there anything this stuff can’t do? All the evidence indicates garlic is a powerful aid to good health. In test tubes, garlic killed roundworms, the most common intestinal parasite. Researchers don’t yet know if it kills parasites in people.
Gobbles up microbes that cause cancer
Allicin, a major constituent of garlic, is strongly anti-pathogenic – meaning it gobbles up bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and intestinal parasites. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), also called Campylobacter, is a stealth bacteria found in the stomach lining of about two-thirds of the world population. It’s heavily linked to stomach cancer and ulcers.
Allicin may help stomp out H. pylori, which may be why the statistics quoted earlier in this article show garlic is so beneficial for those at high risk of stomach cancer.
Garlic enhances your immune system. It can bind to breast cell receptor sites, thereby denying those sites to cancer agents. It boosts DNA repair, reduces cell proliferation, and induces natural cell death (cancer cells, as you know, tend to be immune to natural cell death. Garlic may help set them right).
Garlic and other members of the Allium family (like its cousins, onion, shallots, and chives) contain flavonoids and phenols – natural plant chemicals that may keep damaged cells from advancing to cancer.
Garlic is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that boasts high amounts of vitamin C.
How to stake your claim
to garlic’s anti-cancer benefits
The secret of claiming garlic’s anti-cancer benefits is this: Eat it raw – and crush it before eating!
Use fresh, chopped, or squeezed garlic to get maximum therapeutic benefit. Cooking reduces its enzymatic action (as with most foods). And according to our sources, many garlic supplements are of little use.
Garlic contains both alliin and an enzyme called allinase. When crushed, they mix to create allicin, believed to be the substance behind garlic’s health benefits. If you cook garlic, chop it and wait ten minutes before cooking – allowing the enzymes to work and (presumably) maintain most of its benefits.
Nine ways to eat raw garlic every day
A clove of garlic a day may be just as good as the proverbial apple a day.
But many people have trouble eating garlic straight up. It has the potential to cause GI distress, especially if taken raw on an empty stomach. To be honest, eating large amounts of raw garlic is a stretch for me, even though I love it as a seasoning. But my dauntless researchers did come up with nine ideas to get you started:
- Homemade Salsa. Make it from fresh or canned tomatoes with tons of raw garlic and onions, drizzled with olive oil. Drench eggs, fish, chicken breasts, or even salads with it. Yum!
- Salad Dressing. Make homemade vinaigrette in less than five minutes (I do). Use 2/3 cup of cold-pressed olive oil, 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar, herbs of your choosing (oregano, basil, etc.), and a few cloves of chopped garlic. Voilà! Healthier, better, and less expensive than any store-bought dressing money can buy. My favorite recipe uses red wine vinegar instead of balsamic, and spicy mustard for flavor. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Lacto-fermented. Cut down raw garlic’s spicy bite by fermenting it in salt brine. Cold processing keeps the beneficial enzymes and bacteria alive and kicking.
- Stir into your cooked veggies, just before serving. Add minced garlic for extra flavor and nutrition, without cooking it in.
- Add to mashed potatoes. Garlic + butter + potatoes = delicious. First make your mashed potatoes, then mix butter in. When it’s slightly cooled, plop some minced garlic on top. Takes away the blandness of potatoes in a hurry.
- Guacamole. Garlic loses its bite when you mix it with the healthy fat of avocado.
- Bruschetta. Crush a clove of garlic with the blade of a knife and spread it on crusty toasted bread, pile on raw chopped tomatoes, and drizzle with olive oil and salt. (Eat in moderation, because bread metabolizes as sugar.)
- Classic pesto. Combine pine nuts, basil, garlic, olive oil, lemon and Parmesan cheese for a tasty treat that can be added to eggs and bean salads or spread over meats or chicken breasts.
- Hummus. Homemade outclasses store-bought any old time. You do need a food processor or Vita-Mix for smoothness. Make with chickpeas, raw garlic, lemon, and a couple of other ingredients. This is a great vegetable dip.
Certain people should not eat too much garlic!
Do not use garlic liberally if you’re on a blood thinner, about to have surgery, or about to have a baby. This subject comes up again and again because so many foods and supplements act as blood thinners. I say work with your doctor to thin your blood with the foods and supplements and get the medications out of your life.
Garlic can interact with certain other medications. Check with your doctor if you’re on medications for tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, or are taking birth control pills, or cyclosporine. Be aware that Advil, Motrin, Aleve, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are blood thinners so the advice above is relevant.
Garlic can cause stomach upset, so start slowly and eat it with other foods.
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