The Greatness of Garlic, the Adverse Effects of Agave

By on July 18, 2014

Nearly everyone knows garlic as a ingredient in popular dishes and meals, but few know just how healthy garlic truly is. Garlic, a member of the Allium family, is a near-relation of onions and leeks. This surprisingly versatile herb, originally native to Asia, has been cultivated by man for over 5,000 years. Garlic consumption even powered the Egyptians’ building of the famed pyramids!

A number of garlic’s health-boosting effects can be attributed to the tremendous number of sulfuric compounds the herb contains. Current research suggests that there are more than 33 sulfur-based compounds in garlic. The sulfur content of garlic is responsible for the distinctive odor produced when the herb is heated and cooked. In addition to sulfur, garlic contains a whopping 17 amino acids, minerals such as selenium and manganese, vitamin B1, B6, and C, and enzymes like allinase and myrosinase. These many compounds make garlic a great immune system booster as well as a useful tool in preventing sulfur deficiency, a condition that many Americans suffer from.

Research on garlic consumption has proven that the herb is particularly helpful in lowering blood pressure and reducing heart disease. Garlic can reduce total cholesterol by up to 15%, an improvement that greatly increases cardiovascular health. The sulfur-containing compounds in the herb also reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, aiding in the prevention of heart attacks, heart disease, and clogged arteries. Those at risk of developing thrombosis also ought to consume more garlic; studies have shown that garlic can significantly reduce platelet aggregation, lowering the risk of developing blood clots.

If you’re feeling under-the-weather, turning to garlic might just be a better option than visiting your family doctor, too. Garlic, as one of nature’s most powerful antibiotics, has the ability to remedy everything from sore throats to strained muscles. Unlike conventional antibiotic regimens, garlic has the ability to kill off harmful bacteria without destroying the body’s natural bacterial flora. Consuming raw garlic, or, alternatively, making garlic oil from the cloves, can help clear up bacterial colds as well as viruses and fungal infections. The herb’s antiseptic properties also make it a great home-remedy for curing such maladies as warts, intestinal infections, bronchitis, and more. Recent studies even suggest that garlic is an effective anthelmintic, effectively killing off parasitic worms found in both humans and other animal species. The herb has even been shown to cure the dreaded MRSA infection. Best of all, garlic alleviates these ailments without the side-effects of many conventional drugs. Regardless of the malady, garlic’s many healing properties make it the ideal herb for restoring one’s health.

One of garlic’s lesser-known traits is that it is an effective natural anti-spasmodic. Garlic can help relax muscles, reduce symptoms of rheumatism, and even alleviate digestive cramps and pains. Garlic can be ingested orally or applied to problematic areas on the skin to alleviate these conditions and more.
The powerful antiseptic qualities of garlic can additionally be used to treat gingivitis and periodontitis. Garlic extract has been found to reduce bacterial build-up found in the gum pockets of those with chronic gum disease, even curing these ailments in some patients.

Garlic’s benefits extend beyond the realm of healing, too. Topically-applied garlic sprays can sometimes reduce mosquito bites as well. Those seeking to use the herb as a mosquito repellant ought to be aware, however, that garlic is more effective against some species of mosquitoes than others.

Ancient and modern science alike have proven garlic to be one of the best natural healers on the planet. Natural remedy aficionados, however, shouldn’t be blind to the fact that not all “healthy” foods are created equal. One recent health food fad is the use of agave as an alternative sweetener. Consumers have been told that agave is lower on the glycemic index (GI), which, taken at face value, seems to be a good thing. The GI, however, only measures the amount of sugar flowing through the blood stream. Agave, like high-fructose corn syrup, is composed mainly of the sugar compound fructose. Instead of flowing through the blood stream like other forms of sugar, fructose is metabolized in the liver. This means of processing sugar can lead to high triglyceride levels, and may lead to an increased risk of heart disease and insulin resistance. Additionally, the fructose found in agave has been proven to break down into hydroxymethylfurfural, a potentially toxic substance, when exposed to heat. The higher the fructose levels in a substance, the higher its levels of hydroxymethylfurfural. Additionally, heated fructose can potentially form Advanced Glycogen End Products, which may cause such conditions as renal failure and diabetes. With a fructose content of 50%, table sugar is in fact the best option for avoiding this toxic break-down. In comparison, high-fructose corn syrup is composed of 55% fructose, while agave sweetener contains a whopping 70-90% fructose. Agave’s low ranking on the glycemic index is unfortunately deceptive regarding its benefits as a sweetener. In this case, sticking to conventional sugars may in fact be better for your overall health.

In short, it’s always important to know the facts behind the products you’re consuming. Garlic, for instance, has health benefits that many aren’t even aware of. Agave sweetener, on the other hand, is marketed as a wholesome low-GI sweetener, when it may, in fact, potentially do more harm than good. Take the steps to inform yourself and others about what you’re putting into your body. At the end of the day, you won’t regret it.

About Dean Iodice