Garlic does not go unnoticed. With a characteristic and forceful smell and taste, it is a fundamental element of Mediterranean cuisine and, in addition, enjoys a very good reputation from the point of view of nutrition and health. Now, a study by scientists from China and the United States reveals a fact that may contribute to increase it: its consumption is related to lower mortality.
And they are not based on anecdotes, but on research published in Nutrients magazine that involved more than 27,000 elderly people spread across much of the Chinese geography. Older elderly people who consumed garlic more than five times a week had a 11% decrease in the risk of mortality, compared to those who consumed it less than once a week.
The research involved octogenarians, nonagenarians and even people who had exceeded 100 years of life and who had been included in a longitudinal study – investigates the same group of people repeatedly over several years – between 1998 and 2011. In All these ages and in both men and women the result was similar: mortality from any cause among regular garlic consumers was lower.
Too many myths
Although this study seems to support the classic idea that garlic is a healthy product, lately science tends to tear down certain myths about its consumption, for example, that it is good for preventing cancer. Just a few months ago, the Nutrimedia project, from the Observatory of Scientific Communication of the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), reviewed the scientific evidence and concluded that “it cannot be affirmed or denied that garlic can have any effect protector against cancer ”.
So far, only observational studies have been conducted, so it is impossible to establish a direct relationship between garlic consumption and reducing the risk of suffering a tumor. The same applies to this new study from China: although there is a correlation between the consumption of this product and lower mortality, it cannot be said that the former is the cause of the latter.
In fact, the scientists admit that it could be a case of “reverse causality”, that is, that the participants in this study were not in good health – and therefore were more likely to die due to their advanced age – They could have limited their garlic intake, especially if they suffer from digestive problems. However, they assure that even by eliminating this possible bias the results were similar.
Other ideas without scientific endorsement
Garlic has also been said to have an antibiotic effect or that is good for preventing cardiovascular disease. Actually, current scientific knowledge does not endorse any of these statements and much less popular ideas such as eating a fasting garlic provide some other type of benefit, such as losing weight.
So what can explain that the most garlic-like Chinese reduce their mortality? The researchers of the study published in Nutrients believe that “it is possibly due to the bioavailability and bioavailability of the chemical components of garlic”.
Apart from the fact that it is not a miracle remedy, it is true that it has great nutritional qualities, so it is not necessary to think that it will save our lives to justify its consumption, since it contains antioxidants, vitamins, amino acids, fructooligasaccharides and others components. However, it is worth asking how much garlic we would have to eat so that all these elements had some really significant effect. And also what effect would that have on our breath.
Those responsible for the study do not rule out other less direct explanations, for example, that garlic consumption is related to healthier dietary behavior in general. Therefore, they admit that it is necessary to perform many more analyzes: “To verify the role of garlic or garlic supplements in longevity, our results must be confirmed by future human studies and community intervention trials.”