Health Benefits of Blackberries and Nutrition Facts

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Berries in general are among the most antioxidant-rich foods available. The blackberry is no exception. Not only are they delicious, but blackberries are also an incredible source of nutrients and loads of health benefits.

In particular, blackberries are very high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. They also contain specific antioxidants known to prevent and slow cancer growth. Furthermore, the fruit could improve brain health, reduce inflammation, boost immunity, benefit heart health, and promote skin health.

This article is a guide for everything you need to know about the blackberry, especially its rich history and many health benefits.

Interesting Facts and History of Blackberries

Blackberries are part of the Rubus genus in the Rosaceae family, which also includes the raspberry. The blackberry has the honor as the official fruit of Alabama. It is found throughout the Pacific coast and North America. Today, Mexico is considered the largest blackberry exporter.

Interestingly, the composition of the blackberry is much different than other berries. Blackberries are considered an “aggregate fruit.” This means they have merged a number of plant ovaries to take form. The tiny bubbles on blackberries are called drupelets. The immature blackberry is green or red, but upon ripening it turns black, juicy, and soft.

Since there are so many cross-cultivated varieties, it is not possible to classify a specific “taxonomy” of the original blackberry. As a result, with the complexity of the blackberry species, there is no way to determine where it originally came from. There are about seven Rubus genus species of the blackberry, and hundreds more microspecies.

Ancient cultures considered the blackberry plant a weed, and yet it has a deep history greater than 2,000 years. In the 18th century, the Greeks used these berries in the treatment of gout. In fact, it was famously known as the “gout berry.”

Blackberries also have their place in ancient folklore. In Christianity, the blackberry symbolizes spiritual ignorance or neglect. Some literature also insists that Christ’s crown of thorns was made from blackberry runners. Other folklore associates blackberries with bad omens and sometimes death.

Blackberry Nutrition

What are important blackberry nutrition facts? The blackberry is easily one of the most nutrient-dense foods available to us. For instance, one cup of blackberries contains about 50% of the daily recommendation of vitamin and manganese, as well as 36% of the required vitamin K.

They are also an incredible source of fiber, containing about 30% of the required amount. These berries are also a good source of:

• copper

• folate

• vitamin E

• vitamin A

• magnesium

• potassium

• zinc

• iron

• vitamin B3

You will also find traces amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B6 as well as choline, betaine, calcium, phosphorus, and selenium.

Blackberries are also one of best antioxidant foods you can get with an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) score of 5,347. ORAC is a measure of the antioxidant content or radical scavenging capacity of a particular food.

The following is a comprehensive blackberry nutrition chart with information for one cup of raw blackberries, or 144 grams of the fruit. This is about 15 or so blackberries.

Nutrient

Amount

Daily Value

Calories

61.9

3.00%

Carbohydrates

14.7 g

5.00%

Fiber

7.6 g

31.00%

Protein

2.0 g

4.00%

Total Fat

0.7 g

1.00%

Monounsaturated Fat

0.1 g

N/A

Polyunsaturated Fat

0.4 g

N/A

Iron

0.9 mg

5.00%

Manganese

0.9 mg

47.00%

Copper

0.2 mg

12.00%

Calcium

41.8 mg

4.00%

Magnesium

28.8 mg

7.00%

Phosphorus

31.7 mg

3.00%

Potassium

233 mg

7.00%

Selenium

0.6 mcg

1.00%

Zinc

0.8 mg

5.00%

Folate

36.0 mcg

9.00%

Vitamin B1

0.01 mg

2.00%

Vitamin B2

0.01mg

2.00%

Vitamin B3

0.9 mg

5.00%

Vitamin B5

0.4 mg

4.00%

Vitamin B6

0.01 mg

2.00%

Vitamin A

308IU

6.00%

Vitamin C

30.2 mg

50.00%

Vitamin E

1.7 mg

8.00%

Vitamin K

28.5 mcg

36.00%

Choline

12.2 mg

N/A

Betaine

0.4 mg

N/A

N/A – Not Applicable

6 Health Benefits of Blackberries

What are the health benefits of blackberries? For instance, the vitamin K in blackberries helps regulate hormone function, which could reduce cramps in women struggling from PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Vitamin K is also considered a blood-clotting vitamin. This means it helps with excessive bleeding, and gives pain relief during heavy menstruation.

Blackberry health benefits also include preventing and slowing cancer growth, improving and maintain brain function, reducing inflammation, protecting the cardiovascular system, promotes skin health, and supporting oral health.

Let’s take a look at the impressive health benefits of blackberries:

1. Anti-Cancer

The most well-researched health benefit of blackberries is its ability to fight cancer. This is due to a specific class of antioxidants called polyphenols within blackberries. A particular polyphenol called anthocyanins is considered the main reason blackberries prevent cancer.

A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry in 2006 demonstrated the effectiveness of a specific anthocyanin in blackberries called cyanidin-3-glucoside for inhibiting the growth of cancerous lung tumors.

Another study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2006 would show the effectiveness of blackberries to prohibit the growth of breast, colon, oral, and prostate cancers. Vitamin K in general may also treat and prevent liver, oral, nasal, stomach, prostate, and colon cancers.

2. Brain Health

The nutrient content in blackberries might also help individuals maintain and improve mental health. Research published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience in 2013 shows that a diet with regular blackberry intake could increase brain performance while also improving short-term memory.

According to the European Journal of Nutrition in 2013, polyphenols from wild blackberries have a particular ability to protect brain cell degeneration; however, commercial blackberries did not have the same effect.

3. Inflammation

Research shows that the antioxidants in blackberries naturally reduce inflammation while allowing the body’s protective processes to occur rather than an overdrive reaction.

Blackberries’ protection against inflammation is evident against stomach ulcers. A study published in the journal PLOS Once in 2013 found that when subjects were given extracted ellagitannins, an antioxidant from blackberries, there was an 88% reduction of stomach ulcers. This was due to a reduction of oxidative stress and decreased inflammation of the stomach’s mucosal lining.

4. Skin Health

The antioxidants in blackberries, like the anthocyanins, can protect the keratinocytes in the skin from UVB damage, according to research published in the journal Phytotherapy Research in 2012. Keratinocytes are cells that form a protective layer on the epidermis while also reproducing under the outer skin layer for continuous epidermis replenish. The vitamin C in blackberries may also promote collagen production and reduce dry skin.

A 2011 study also found that the antiviral effect of blackberry extract inhibits the herpes simplex virus type 1, which is responsible for cold sores.

5. Cardiovascular Health

Blackberry’s vitamin K helps stop artery hardening, and prevents buildup that leads to serious heart diseases. Studies show that vitamin K consumption can reduce inflammation in cells that line the blood cells while also promoting healthy blood pressure and decreasing the risk of a heart attack.

In addition, research published in the journal Life Science in 2003 shows that a special anthocyanin, cyaniding-3-O-glucoside, from blackberries helps protect the endothelial blood vessels, and this may reduce dysfunction, and delay or prevent cardiovascular disease.

6. Oral Health

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Periodontal Research found that the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects of blackberry extract can fight against some bacteria types that cause oral disease. The study authors suggest blackberry extract can control and prevent cavities and gum disease.

How to Pick and Prepare Blackberries

If you’re lucky enough to pick wild blackberries, select firm and shiny fruit. Also, avoid the low fruit that may have been affected by dogs or other animals. The best and freshest fruit will be found between August and September.

It is a good idea to use several small containers to collect wild berries, since it is easy to crush the drupelets of the blackberries that contain their tart and sweet flavor. Freshly picked blackberries last about two to three days at room temperature, and putting them in the fridge can extend their life up to a week. At the same time, let them get to room temperature before eating them.

They also freeze well, but do so in a flat single layer to avoid crushing them. Blackberries are an important fruit to purchase organic whenever possible. Keep in mind that wild or organic varieties often contain a far better nutritional profile than their commercially produced and store-bought counterparts.

Healthy Blackberry Recipe

Blackberries can be used in a number of dishes, including desserts, smoothies, chia pudding, especially salads. Here is a tasty salad recipe that you can make for your lunch or dinner:

Blackberry Goat Cheese Salad

Ingredients:

• 4 cups of leafy greens

• 1 pint of fresh organic blackberries

• 1/2 cup of roasted almonds, roughly chopped

• 1 red onion, thinly sliced

• 1 tbsp of fresh lemon zest

• 1/2 medium-sized cucumber, chopped

• Goat cheese, crumbled

For dressing:

• 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

• Juice from 1 large organic lemon

• 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

• 1 tsp of Dijon mustard

• 1 tsp of raw honey

• 1/2 tsp of coarse sea salt

Directions:

• In a large bowl, add greens, cucumber, almonds, blackberries, onion, lemon zest, and crumbled goat cheese.

• In a small bowl, whisk the ingredients for the dressing, and pour over the salad. Toss to combine.

• Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Potential Side Effects of Blackberries

Are there any side effects of the blackberry? Well, the tannins in blackberries are safe enough to be consumed in small quantities without producing any harmful effects. That being said, there is some evidence that suggests that a very large amount of tannins, including those found in teas, may increase tumor size in cancer patients. This is why those with a history of cancer should avoid teas with blackberry root or leaf.

People susceptible to kidney stones should also minimize their blackberry consumption. This is because the oxalates in blackberries and other fruit may increase kidney stone production.

Some people also experience mild allergic reactions from blackberries. Discontinue use immediately when there is itching or swelling of the hands, lips, or mouth after eating the fruit.

Final Thoughts on Blackberries

Some may call blackberries a superfood. There is definitely a good argument with that. Let’s look at a few key takeaways from this feature on blackberries:

• Blackberries are an incredibly high source of valuable nutrients, including fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C, and manganese.

• Many of the health benefits of blackberries are associated with its ridiculously high antioxidant load, especially with the amount of anthocyanin polyphenols.

• Blackberries may also protect the brain from damage, reduce inflammation, support skin and oral health, and protect against cardiovascular disease.

• Lastly, blackberries are a very versatile fruit that complements desserts and even salads. Be sure to choose organic blackberries when you can.

Sources:
“6 Amazing Health Benefits of Blackberries,” Dr. Axe; https://draxe.com/health-benefits-blackberries/, last accessed Aug. 14, 2017.
Butler, N., “Blackberries: Health Benefits and Nutrition Information,” healthline, June 21, 2017; http://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-blackberries#overview1.
“15 Best Blackberry Benefits,” Organic Facts; https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/blackberries.html, last accessed Aug. 14, 2017.
“Blackberries, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories,” SELFNutritionData; http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1848/2, last accessed Aug. 14, 2017.
Jorgustin, K., “Top High ORAC Value Antioxidant Foods,” Modern Survival Blog, July 18, 2017; http://modernsurvivalblog.com/health/high-orac-value-antioxidant-foods-top-100/.
Murapa, P., et al., “Anthocyanin-rich fractions of blackberry extracts reduce UV-induced free radicals and oxidative damage in keratinocytes,” Phytotherapy Research, January 2012; 26(1): 106-112, doi: 10.1002/ptr.3510.
Danaher, R.J., et al., “Antiviral effects of blackberry extract against herpes simplex virus type 1,” Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology, and Endodontics, September 2011; 112(3): e31-35, doi: 10.1016/j.tripleo.2011.04.007.
Gonzalez, O.A., et al., “Antibacterial Effects of Blackberry Extract Target Periodontopathogens,” Journal of Periodontal Research, February 2013; 48(1): 80-86, doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0765.2012.01506.x.
Serraino, I., et al., “Protective effects of cyaniding-3-O-glucoside from blackberry extract against peroxynitrite-induced endothelial dysfunction and vascular failure,” Life Science, July 18, 2003; 73(9): 1097-1114. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12818719/.
Azofeifa, G., et al., “Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory in vitro activities of phenolic compounds from tropical highland blackberries (Rubus adenotrichos),” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, June 19, 2013; 61(24): 5798-5804, doi: 10.1021/j400781m.
Sangiovanni, E., et al., “Ellagitannins from Rubus berries for the control of gastric inflammation: in vitro and in vivo studies,” PLoS One, Aug. 5, 2013; 8(8):e71762, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071762.
Shukitt-Hale, B., “Effects of blackberries on motor and cognitive function in aged rats,” Nutritional Neuroscience, July 19, 2013; 3, 135-140, doi: 10.1179/147683009X423292.
Tavares, L., et al., “Nauroprotective effects of digested polyphenols from wild blackberry species,” European Journal of Nutrition, February 2013; 52(1): 225-236. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22314351.
Ding, M., et al., “Cyanidin-3-glucoside, a natural product derived from blackberry, exhibits chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic activity,” Journal of Biological Chemistry, June 23, 2006; 281(25): 17359-17368. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16618699.
Seeram, N.P., et al., “Blackberry, black raspberry, blueberry, cranberry, red raspberry, and strawberry extracts inhibit growth and stimulate apoptosis of human cancer cells in vitro,” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Dec. 13, 2006; 54(25): 9329-9339. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17147415.
Walker, L., “Black Manchego Salad,” Joyous Health, Nov. 10, 2015; https://www.joyoushealth.com/23064-blog-blackberry-manchego-salad.

Source: Doctors Health Press

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Cancer patients who rely on herbs, homeopathy or energy crystals over conventional treatment are two-and-a-half times more likely to die within five years of diagnosis

Herbs and Helpers

Alternative medicines increase five year death risk by two-and-a-half times

Breast cancer patients are 5.68 times more at risk if they opt for homeopathy

Some 41% of lung cancer sufferers survive five years with chemotherapy

Yet, only 20% do so if they rely on herbs, botanicals, diets or energy crystals

Experts say alternative medicines are a multibillion dollar industry with no proof

Cancer patients who opt for alternative medicines over conventional treatment are two-and-a-half times more likely to die within five years of diagnosis, new research reveals.

Among breast cancer sufferers, those who rely on herbs, homeopathy or energy crystals to beat their disease are 5.68 times more at risk of an early death, a study found.

While 41 percent of those receiving conventional treatment for lung cancer survive for at least five years, only 20 percent of those opting for alternative medicines do so, the research adds.

Professor John Bridgewater, an oncologist at University College London Hospital, who was not involved in the study, said: ‘Many patients will often go on special diets, rather than having conventional treatment.

‘But we have no evidence that anyone benefits from these diets, apart from those that collect the fees.’

CANCER PATIENTS WHO SOCIALIZE WITH OTHERS BATTLING THE DISEASE ARE MORE LIKELY TO SURVIVE

Social cancer patients have better survival prospects than those who do not interact with other sufferers, research revealed last month.

Patients undergoing chemotherapy who socialise with other sufferers have a 68 percent risk of dying within five years, a study found.

This is compared to a 69.5 percent risk if patients are isolated from other sufferers during their treatment, the research adds.

Lead author Jeff Lienert from the National Human Genome Research Institute, said: ‘A two percent difference in survival might not sound like a lot, but it’s pretty substantial.

‘If you saw 5,000 patients in nine years, that two percent improvement would affect 100 people.’

The researchers believe interacting with others during a sufferer’s treatment reduces their stress levels, leading to better survival prospects.

How the study was carried out

Researchers from Yale School of Medicine analyzed patients from the US National Cancer Database with breast, prostate, lung or bowel cancer that had not spread.

Of these, 281 opted for alternative medicines.

Study author Dr Skyler Johnson said: ‘They could be herbs, botanicals, homeopathy, special diets or energy crystals, which are basically just stones that people believe have healing powers.’

These study participants were compared against 560 patients who had conventional cancer treatment.

This was defined as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery or hormone therapy.

Two-and-a-half times more likely to die in five years

Results reveal that on average patients are two-and-a-half times more likely to die within five years of diagnosis if they opt for alternative medicines.

Among those with breast cancer, people taking non-conventional remedies are 5.68 times more likely to pass away within five years.

While 41 percent of those receiving conventional treatment for lung cancer survive for at least five years, this is compared to only 20 percent of those who opt for alternative medicines.

For bowel cancer, only 33 percent using ‘treatments’ such as homeopathy survive the next five years, compared to 79 percent of those receiving medication such as chemotherapy.

The findings were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Breast cancer sufferers who rely on herbs for treatment are 5.68 times more at risk of death

‘It’s a multibillion dollar industry’

Professor Bridgewater said: ‘Many patients will often go on special diets, rather than having conventional treatment.

‘But we have no evidence that anyone benefits from these diets, apart from those that collect the fees.’

The study also revealed patients who opt for alternative medicines are generally more financially comfortable, which Dr Johnson believes highlights the cost of such ‘treatments’.

He said: ‘Herbs and diets don’t sound expensive, but when these things are delivered through providers, they can come with a hefty bill.

‘It’s a multibillion dollar industry. People pay more out-of-pocket for alternative treatments than they do for standard treatments.’

Source: Daily Mail

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Some jobs tied to higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis

Herbs and Helpers

(Reuters Health) – Workers exposed to airborne toxins may have an elevated risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, an immune system disorder that causes debilitating swelling and pain in the joints, a Swedish study suggests.

Among men, bricklayers, concrete workers and electricians had at least twice the risk of rheumatoid arthritis they would have in certain other occupations, the study found. For women, jobs in nursing carried a 30 percent higher risk than other careers.

“Previous studies have indicated that occupations within the manufacturing sector are associated with an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis,” said lead study author Anna Ilar of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

“The novelty of our findings is that we showed that occupations within this sector are related to an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis even after controlling for lifestyle-related factors including smoking, alcohol use, education and (obesity),” Ilar said by email.

Unlike the more common osteoarthritis, which is caused by mechanical wear and tear on joints, in rheumatoid arthritis the immune system attacks the body’s joints.

While smoking is a known risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis, the findings add to evidence suggesting that environmental factors could trigger the disease in some people. Previous research suggests that lung changes caused by inhaled pollutants may trigger immune responses that lead to rheumatoid arthritis, particularly in individuals with a genetic predisposition for the disease.

For the current study, reported in Arthritis Care and Research, researchers examined data on 3,522 people with rheumatoid arthritis and 5,580 similar individuals without the condition. They gathered information on work history from questionnaires and analyzed results form blood samples looking for genetic factors that can contribute to the disorder.

Researchers compared the elevated risk of rheumatoid arthritis in manufacturing occupations to the risk associated with professional, administrative and technical jobs that tend to involve deskwork rather than manual labor.

Compared with men working desk jobs, electrical workers had twice the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and bricklayers and concrete workers had roughly triple the risk.

The study didn’t find an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis for women working in the manufacturing sector, but there may have been too few women in these jobs to properly analyze the impact of this work, the researchers say.

It’s possible that inhaled toxins such as silica, asbestos, organic solvents and motor exhaust might have contributed to the development of rheumatoid arthritis, but the study didn’t analyze which pollutants caused the condition.

One limitation of the study is that researchers assumed people in professional jobs in doing office work didn’t have exposure to toxins that may increase the odds of rheumatoid arthritis. The study also wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how certain occupations might cause rheumatoid arthritis.

They also didn’t directly examine the influence of manual labor on development of rheumatoid arthritis, said Kaleb Michaud, a researcher at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and co-director of the National Data Bank for Rheumatic Diseases.

“There is some evidence that greater physical labor, which can cause more stress on the body physically and mentally, can lead to rheumatoid arthritis,” Michaud, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

“Not getting enough sleep and continuous repetitive tasks can lead to added stress that can impact your immune system,” Michaud added. “The more triggers to the immune system just increase the chances for an irregular response by it that may lead to an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2x1AdfS Arthritis Care and Research, online August 10, 2017.

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2017 Garlic Research Update

Herbs and Helpers

Garlic is an herb that has been used for medicinal purposes by various cultures throughout history. Some of the earliest documented therapeutic use of garlic dates to the 6th century BC in the Zoroastrian culture. The Sumerians and ancient Egyptians, as well as the Greeks, have used garlic therapeutically. In addition, garlic’s healing properties have been revered in traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Unani medicine for centuries.(1)

Modern science has validated garlic’s traditional use, showing its benefits for a variety of health conditions. From a mechanism-of-action standpoint, garlic has been found to possess antioxidant, nitric oxide–enhancing, and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)–inhibiting properties.(2) Further studies have shown garlic’s ability to reduce inflammation through its action on various enzymes, including cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX), while also potentially acting against a master switch for inflammation in nuclear factor kappaβ (NF-κβ).(3) Garlic also normalizes platelet aggregation, reduces lipid peroxidation, and supports healthy levels of blood lipids.(4) These mechanisms make garlic well suited for supporting cardiovascular function, immune wellness, and a bevy of other health conditions. And the research goes on. Several recently conducted studies highlighted here showcase garlic’s broad healing potential.

References:
1. Bayan L et al., “Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects,” Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, vol. 4, no. 1 (January–February 2014): 1–14
2. Shouk R et al., “Mechanisms underlying the antihypertensive effects of garlic bioactives,” Nutrition Research, vol. 34, no. 2 (February 2014): 106–115
3. Jeon YY et al., “Comparison of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects between fresh and aged black garlic extracts,” Molecules, vol. 21, no. 4 (March 30, 2016): 430
4. Khatua TN et al., “Garlic and cardioprotection: insights into the molecular mechanisms,” Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, vol. 91, no. 6 (June 2013): 448–458

Coronary Plaque Reduction

Coronary plaque is a well-known risk factor for heart disease. Plaque can be characterized as calcified and non-calcified. Studies suggest that the presence of non-calcified plaque―also known as soft plaque―along with calcified plaque may be a stronger predictor of coronary risk than either plaque alone.(5)

While earlier studies showed the benefits of garlic on calcified plaque, a newer study aimed to evaluate aged garlic extract’s effects on reducing non-calcified arterial plaque.(6) In the study led by Suguru Matusumoto of UCLA Medical Center (Torrance, CA), 55 individuals with metabolic syndrome were asked to supplement with aged garlic extract (2,400 mg/day of Kyolic extract from Wakunaga of America in Mission Viejo, CA) or placebo for one year. Baseline measures included the assessment of plaque burden via cardiac computed tomography angiography (CCTA).

The results of the study showed that the aged garlic extract significantly reduced the percentage of low-attenuation plaque versus placebo. Low-attenuation plaque is a lipid-rich plaque that is considered a subset of non-calcified plaque. Thus, the study results suggest an important additional benefit of aged garlic extract in supporting cardiovascular health by reducing the presence of this plaque.

References:
5. Nasir K et al., “Calcified versus noncalcified atherosclerosis: Implications for evaluating cardiovascular risk,” Current Cardiovascular Risk Reports, vol. 3, no. 2 (March 2009): 150–155

Liver Health

Garlic isn’t readily associated with benefitting liver function; however, recent studies suggest that garlic extracts may in fact support liver health.

Ha-Na Kim and colleagues from the Catholic University of Korea (Seoul, Republic of Korea) conducted a study in which 75 adults with mild liver dysfunction, but no diagnosed liver disease, were randomized to receive two sachets of a fermented garlic extract, or a placebo, daily for 12 weeks.(7) At baseline, all individuals participating in the study had elevated serum gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT), a liver enzyme.

Researchers evaluated the serum changes in GGT as well as alanine aminotransferase (ALT), another liver enzyme, over the 12-week period. In the garlic group, ALT and GGT levels improved from baseline over 12 weeks and improved compared to placebo, indicating the potential therapeutic benefits of garlic supplementation on mild liver dysfunction.

Pending further research, the changes in liver enzymes may also indicate the utility of fermented garlic extract for addressing more severe cases of liver dysfunction.

References:
7. Kim HN et al., “Efficacy and safety of fermented garlic extract on hepatic function in adults with elevated serum gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase levels: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial,” European Journal of Nutrition. Published online October 14, 2016.

Immune Function

Several compounds in garlic may interact with the immune system and serve to boost the function of diverse components that comprise our immune defenses.

A recent study led by Susan Percival of the University of Florida (Gainesville, FL) aimed to evaluate the effects of aged garlic extract on activity related to immune cell proliferation, activation, and on the inflammatory process.(8) In the study, 120 healthy adults were recruited to participate in a double-blind placebo-controlled trial in which they supplemented with 2.56 g of aged garlic extract or a placebo daily for 90 days during the height of the cold and flu season. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (a type of immune cell) were isolated before and after the 90-day intervention, and the function of T- and natural killer (NK) cell function was also assessed at 45 and 90 days.

At the end of the study, aged garlic extract significantly improved T- and NK-cell proliferation and reduced cold and flu severity (though not the number of illnesses). Symptomatic improvement was noted, and there was a reduction in the number of days of work or school missed in the group supplementing with aged garlic extract.

The study indicated multiple beneficial effects of the garlic preparation on immune health and supports its prophylactic benefits in healthy adults.

References:
8. Percival SS, “Aged garlic extract modifies human immunity,” Journal of Nutrition, vol. 146, no. 2 (February 1, 2016): 433S–436S

Weight Management and Body Composition

Previously, studies in animals have found that garlic may support a weight-loss benefit; however, whether this effect occurs in humans has been unclear.

A recent study conducted in Iran aimed to assess the effects of garlic on weight and body composition parameters in individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). As being overweight is a risk factor for the development of NAFLD, reducing weight is associated with benefits for liver health.

In the current study, 110 individuals were recruited from the Metabolic Liver Disease Research Center at Isfahan University of Medical Sciences (Isfahan, Iran) and randomized to receive 400 mg of a garlic powder supplement (1.5 mg allicin) twice daily or a placebo for 15 weeks.(9) Both groups were monitored for dietary intake and physical activity, while both also received basic dietary and exercise advice. Body composition parameters of all participants were evaluated during the trial.

The garlic group showed a significant average decrease in body weight of 2.59% from baseline, while the placebo group had a decrease of 0.75%. Garlic supplement consumption also led to a mean decrease of 2.91% in body fat, while the average decrease in the placebo group was 0.42%. These results support the concept that garlic supplementation can be a useful adjunct to lifestyle modification for weight management in overweight individuals with NAFLD.

References:
9. Soleimani, D., Paknahad, Z., Askari, G., Iraj, B. & Feizi, A. Effect of garlic powder consumption on body composition in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Adv. Biomed. Res. 5, 2 (2016). Published online January 27, 2016.

Source: Nutritional Outlook

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