Superfood #10. Garlic, onion, leeks, and shallots - In a study of centenarians (people living over 100 years of age), it was found that high garlic and onion consumption was one of the factors that surveys revealed may have partial involvement in their longevity. Garlic and onions are a couple of the best sources of uniquely powerful antioxidants.
Garlic health benefits and medicinal properties have long been known. Garlic has long been considered a herbal "wonder drug", with a reputation in folklore for preventing everything from the common cold and flu to the plague! It has been used extensively in herbal medicine. Raw garlic is used by some to treat the symptoms of acne, and the common cold, and there is some evidence that it can assist in managing high cholesterol levels. It can even be effective as a natural mosquito repellent.
A stronger tasting clove of garlic has more sulphur content and hence more medicinal value. Some people prefer to take garlic supplements. These pills and capsules have the advantage of avoiding garlic breath.
Modern science has shown that garlic is a powerful antibiotic, albeit broad-spectrum rather than targeted. The body does not appear to build up resistance to the garlic, so its positive health benefits continue over time.
Studies have shown that garlic - especially aged garlic - can have a powerful antioxidant effect. Raw garlic is very strong, so eating too much could produce problems, for example irritation of or even damage to the digestive tract.
There are two main medical ingredients, which produce the garlic health benefits: allicin and diallyl sulphides.
Allicin is the most powerful medicinal compound derived from garlic and provides the greatest reputed health benefits.
It is produced when garlic is finely chopped or crushed. The finer the chopping and the more intensive the crushing, the more allicin is generated and the stronger the medicinal effect.
As well as having antibiotic properties, allicin is an excellent anti-fungal and has been used to treat skin infections such as athlete's foot.