Scientists: Garlic can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Scientists: Garlic can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Garlic is an herb that is grown around the world. It is related to onion, leeks, and chives. It is thought that garlic is native to Siberia, but spread to other parts of the world over 5000 years ago.

But eating garlic really does have health benefits, researchers have concluded.

A study found consuming the common seasoning can help slash the risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

And how healthy garlic is could be down to how it is prepared, according to the researchers at Nottingham University.

The team conducted a review of the literature surrounding garlic, as studies into its health benefits have been inconsistent.

Study leader Dr Peter Rose explained the mix of results was likely due to the vast array of compounds in garlic, mainly sulphuric ones.

Different levels of the compounds are released through chopping garlic, pressing it for oil or fermenting it in alcohol - known as the 'Ancient Tibetan Garlic Cure'.

This could explain the strikingly different results into the health effects of garlic, the researchers said.

But Dr Rose and colleagues admitted it was still a mystery as to which method of eating garlic is the most beneficial.

This means they can't yet provide solid evidence on whether chewing a raw clove will provide greater benefits than enjoying a slice of garlic bread.

Dr Rose said: 'Each of these preparative forms could have a different effect within mammalian systems.

'And that's what makes this research so complex, because we don't really understand how these compounds are metabolised in humans.'

Garlic is a member of the allium family of plants, along with onions, leeks and and chives, which absorb sulfate from the soil.

These same sulfur compounds are what give garlic its distinct taste, and lingering smell.

Scientists have previously found while sometimes the consumption of garlic has a biological effect, other times it does nothing.

Dr Rose said: 'When it comes to human intervention studies, there's been quite a lot of disparity.

'I think it needs re-investigating, just because of the sheer complexity of the diversity of these sorts of compounds and the different distribution of them between different garlic products.'

Garlic has been found to have a significant effect on lowering blood pressure in both experimental and clinical studies, and has been found to contain many potent compounds with anti-cancer properties - particularly allylsulfide derivatives.

Although there are claims that garlic may reduce blood sugar levels in diabetic animals, the effect of garlic on human blood sugar levels is unknown.

One theory Dr Rose and his colleagues have is that the sulfur compounds in garlic may affect gaseous signally in the body.

This is a process which plays an important role in cell signalling - and recent studies performed in laboratories has linked the two.

Altered levels of gaseous signally molecules are present in many diseases, implying garlic has the ability to protect against them.

For now, however, Dr Rose says people must remember garlic is no 'magic bullet', although there are potential health benefits in consuming it.

Writing in the journal Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, he added: 'I don't think there are one individual plant species that is a cure-all.

'But there are certain plant species that are strongly associated with reducing disease risk in humans.

'Variety is the spice of life, but understanding the chemistry of some of your spices is probably a very advantageous thing to do.'

Garlic has been tried for treating an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia; BPH), cystic fibrosis, diabetes, osteoarthritis, hayfever (allergic rhinitis), traveler's diarrhea, high blood pressure late in pregnancy (pre-eclampsia), yeast infection, flu, and swine flu. It is also used to prevent tick bites, as a mosquito repellant, and for preventing the common cold, and treating and preventing bacterial and fungal infections.

Garlic is also used for earaches, chronic fatigue syndrome, menstrual disorders, abnormal cholesterol levels caused by HIV drugs, hepatitis, shortness of breath related to liver disease, stomach ulcers caused by H. pylori infection, exercise performance, exercise-induced muscle soreness, a condition that causes lumps in the breast tissue called fibrocystic breast disease, a skin condition called scleroderma, and lead toxicity.

How does it work?

Garlic produces a chemical called allicin. This is what seems to make garlic work for certain conditions. Allicin also makes garlic smell. Some products are made "odorless" by aging the garlic, but this process can also make the garlic less effective. It's a good idea to look for supplements that are coated (enteric coating) so they will dissolve in the intestine and not in the stomach.

Scientists: Garlic can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Scientists: Garlic can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Reviewed by Edozie Richard on Friday, April 27, 2018 Rating: 5

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