Is Garlic Good for the Brain?

Is Garlic Good for the Brain
Is Garlic Good for the Brain

What did we have for dinner last night?

Bean bowls made even healthier with a special ingredient. And I LOVE ingredients that come with multiple health benefits!

As I posted yesterday, regular garlic (Allium sativum) consumption is good for the immune system. But is garlic good for the brain? 

Science has shown that its benefits reach well beyond the immune system. Garlic can protect against:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • high blood pressure
  • cancer
  • inflammation
  • bacterial infection
  • diabetes

and liver problems.

Some studies have also begun to ask, “Is garlic good for the brain?

In 2015, a team of Bangladesh researchers led by Sara Tasnim from the University of Dhaka’s Department of Pharmacy published their study on garlic and the brain.

The five-week study, which appeared in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, divided 20 adults (aged 21 to 23) into two groups. One took a capsule of newly processed garlic powder twice each day, and the other, a seed-husk placebo.

The researchers formulated the placebo to replicate the garlic powder capsule’s odor, color, texture, shape, and size. The participants had no way to tell which they were taking. 

Before the study began, each participant took six tests from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB).

The tests were designed to measure attention, memory, and cognitive function:  

  • The Paired Associates Learning (PAL) test measures new learning and visual memory. 
  • The Verbal Memory Test (VRM) test measures both immediate and delayed verbal information recall. 
  • The Rapid Visual Information Processing (RVP) test measures sustained visual attention. 
  • The Intra-Extra Dimensional Set Shift (IED) test measures the ability to follow changing rules. 
  • The One Touch Stockings of Cambridge (OTS) test measures working memory and spatial planning. 
  • The Spatial Working Memory (SWM) test measures retention of spatial information and working memory in the manipulation of remembered items. 

Both groups repeated the tests at the study’s end. Did their second set of scores clarify the answer to the question, “Is garlic good for the brain?

The results were mixed. On four of the six tests, the garlic group showed no “statistically significant improvement.”

However, their improvement in the PAL and RVP tests was remarkable enough that the researchers concluded garlic had attention- and memory- “enhancing properties.”  

Why Is Garlic Good for the Brain?

Multiple reviews have analyzed garlic’s ability to reduce dementia – and more specifically, Alzheimer’s disease.

One such review is from Dr. Carmia Borek, Ph.D., of the Tufts University School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health and Family Medicine. She begins by discussing factors that share links to both heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

They include: 

  • high cholesterol 
  • high homocysteine
  • high blood pressure
  • inflammation 

and oxidative stress.

By promoting atherosclerosis, they also impact both heart and brain health. Increasing scientific evidence points to the dementia-heart risk link.

Dr. Borek presents an earlier study showing how garlic exhibits positive fibrinolytic activity. Fibrinolysis protects our hearts by keeping our arteries clot-free.  

The study’s participants consumed garlic oil supplements for between three weeks and three months. They achieved a 36- to 130- percent increase in fibrinolytic activity.

More importantly, the increase applied to both healthy participants and heart attack patients! 

Another review examined how garlic reduces dementia and heart disease risk. It emphasized the herb’s ability to lower oxidative stress. 

The reviewers credit its abundant antioxidants for garlic’s stress-reducing ability. In particular, aged garlic extract (AGE) temporarily boosts nitric oxide activity that helps combat oxidative stress.

So, what have researchers learned by asking, “Is garlic good for the brain?  

That garlic can improve our attention and memory while simultaneously protecting the brain from the damages of atherosclerosis and oxidative stress. 

The black bean bowls with homemade garlic sauce we had for dinner last night were more than immune-system boosters.

They were attention- and memory-enhancing, heart-protecting, dementia-preventing BRAIN FOOD!

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