08 July, 2011
Two food substances, so dissimilar in usage, taste and food groups, share similar characteristics that benefit health. Although garlic became available in supplement form long before cinnamon, cinnamon has entered the market of diet supplements. Chemists have come a long way in identifying not only the benefits these foods contain, but also the specific chemicals responsible for their health advantages. This new information isolates, and makes possible, the reproduction of the healing properties both cinnamon and garlic offer. Before using cinnamon or garlic to treat a medical condition, consult your physician.
Used for centuries for its curative effects, garlic had a mechanism of action that evaded scientists. According to ScienceDaily, an acid produced by a compound in garlic interacts rapidly with free radicals. Free radicals form as a result of most body processes. These unpaired radicals seek to join other radicals. The allicin in garlic produces an antioxidant that reacts with free radicals that could otherwise pair up with cancer cells. These antioxidant properties also protect the cardiac system, stimulate immune function, protect against radiation, aid in detoxification of foreign bodies and restore physical strength, according to Pennington Nutrition Series.
Cinnamon also acts as an antioxidant in the body. It has notable value, however, in a certain extracted compound that activates enzymes that stimulate insulin receptors. Simultaneously, these enzymes inhibit other enzymes that inhibit or deactivate the insulin receptors. This means cinnamon has the ability to reduce blood sugar in various forms of diabetes. The bark extract cinnamon also lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels in a study of 60 diabetics, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Garlic’s one drawback, its pungent aroma, does not appeal to everyone. As a supplement, garlic, minus the scent, rates No. 1 out of 91 supplements, according to Pennington Nutrition Series. People who eat one to two cloves of garlic a day reap its beneficial rewards. Table cinnamon, on the other hand, has some fat-soluble compounds. This means it can accumulate in the body when taken in large doses. Researchers have found a way to isolate the water-soluble compounds, separate out the fat-soluble compounds and create a safer variety in capsule form, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Cinnamon can add a punch to foods. In its powdered, unsweetened form, you can sprinkle it on oatmeal or cold cereal, mix it into peanut butter, add it to soy milk and yogurt, season sweet potatoes and carrots, sprinkle over nuts and bake for 15 minutes, use it in coffee, put some on fruit and rev up pork. Garlic, used in cloves, can be sliced and sauted with just about any vegetable or meat dish. If preferred, garlic powder will season up these same dishes. As a member of the “alliaceae” family, which includes onions, leeks and shallots, garlic can accompany with a complementary flavor. Add it to pizza, salads and soups as well. Garlic supplements come in an extract, essential oil, an oil macerate and dehydrated powder. The essential oil comes from steam distillation and addition of vegetable oil. Oil macerates result from grinding whole garlic cloves into a vegetable oil.
- garlic image by Norbert Tuske from Fotolia.com