Summary
Having good dietary habits has been found to be integral to good health for as long as food has been studied. Some plant products have proven to be beneficial and have contributed significantly to multiple aspects of health. One such plant product is garlic (Allium sativum), which has unique therapeutic properties. The present review explains the beneficial effects of including garlic and its products in your regular nutrition, to improve health and combat several illnesses. This review also focuses on garlic’s remedial potential to improve oxidative stress, provide cardiovascular treatment and act as an immune booster.

Introduction
Among the many natural plant-derivative products known to improve health, garlic is known to have significant preventive and curative properties. Numerous studies have confirmed the role of garlic in curing cardiovascular diseases, boosting immune functions of the body and in effectively fighting and preventing cancer. It is believed that organosulfur compounds present in garlic are responsible for this therapeutic effect. Garlic may be processed in various ways, with each processing method giving a different yield. Garlic may come in the form of fresh garlic extract, aged garlic extract and garlic oil. Most commercial products are available as aged garlic extract, dehydrated garlic powder, garlic oil and garlic oil macerate, each with a different function. Of these, the most useful products are aged garlic extract and garlic oil. Aged garlic extract is even sold as a dietary supplement. The therapeutic function of garlic is mediated by antioxidation, promoting immunity, removing harmful free radicals, antitoxic nature, maintaining balance in body’s internal organ functions and fighting against cancerous cells.

Methodology
The current review has consolidated the findings of an exhaustive number of studies pertaining to the effects of consuming garlic on a wide array of diseases. The review begins by giving an overview of the structural and functional properties of garlic and its constituents and products obtained by processing. The study includes a thorough compilation of research on the role of adding garlic into your diet on the following: cardio protection, treatment of cardiac conditions, preventing and fighting cancer and stimulating the immune system. These studies have also explained in-depth the importance and mechanism of garlic, in the case of physiological threats.

Results
* Garlic proves to be useful in improving cardiovascular health through reducing blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) and blood pressure. Eating one-half to one pod of garlic everyday is found to lower cholesterol by inhibiting enzymes in lipid synthesis by 9 percent and cholesterol synthesis by 75 percent.
* Garlic increases microcirculation, which is important in diabetes. Additionally, it serves as an antioxidant and anticoagulant.
* Garlic has been shown to restrict cancer growth by enhancing detoxifying enzymes and blocking cellular triggers for cancer.
* Garlic exhibits immunostimulatory action by increasing the white blood cell count. It also acts as an immunosuppressant in subduing inflammation and infection by disease-causing microbes.

Next steps/Shortcomings
There is a paradox around the intake of only garlic to control high cholesterol; this needs further research. Also, there is some uncertainty whether raw garlic could result in stomach ailments. Such allergic responses to garlic and its products need to be understood completely before including it in the diet. Certain ambiguous findings increase the necessity for future investigation to confirm the efficacy of using garlic in therapeutic areas.

Conclusion
Cardiovascular disease is a major reason for death across the world and one of the most critical problems involved is the control of blood lipids and cholesterol. In most cases, this leads to blockage of blood vessels and heart attacks. Natural products like garlic are safe for long-term use. Extracts of garlic like aged garlic extract are proven remedies for clot formation, platelet clustering and damage to the blood and heart tissue, caused by lack of oxygen. A combination of garlic constituents with some drugs like captopril has a positive effect in improving the cardiovascular parameters. Cancer is another significant cause for mortality and loss of quality of life. Garlic has shown extraordinary effect in restricting cancer growth and inducing the body’s immune system to eliminate cancers. In addition, garlic defends the immune system from falling as an aftermath of chemo or radiotherapy. The studies analyzed in this review encompass the protective impact of garlic across a wide range of cancers affecting almost all organs of the body.

For More Information:
Garlic: Nature’s Protection against Physiological Threats
Publication Journal: Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2009
By Masood Sadiq Butt; Muhammad Tauseef Sultan; National Institute of Food Science and Technology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.