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Health Benefits of Garlic for the Elderly

By Debbie Waddell, 10:30 am on

Garlic has been used in folk medicine for over 4,000 years, and many recent studies have confirmed just how healthy this root vegetable can be. Placer County elderly care experts believe the benefits of garlic can be especially helpful for seniors. Here are a few reasons to include more of this healthy food in your elderly loved one’s diet.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Over time, high blood pressure can contribute to heart disease and harm the kidneys and eyes, but adding garlic to your loved one’s diet can help lower his or her blood pressure levels. Garlic has sulfur-containing molecules the body can use to produce hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide helps the blood vessels expand, allowing blood to flow through more easily and decreasing blood pressure levels. A 2013 study found participants who took 600 to 1,500 milligrams of garlic supplements a day were able to keep their blood pressure levels in the normal range.

Boosts Immune System

When garlic is chewed, crushed, or chopped, it forms a compound known as allicin, which has been found to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Seniors develop weaker immune systems with age, putting them at greater risk for getting colds and the flu, but garlic can help reduce this risk. A 2001 study published in Advances in Therapy found participants who took a daily garlic supplement had a 63 percent reduction in colds compared to those who took a placebo.

Reduces Glucose Levels

If your loved one is diabetic or has been diagnosed with prediabetes, keeping his or her blood glucose levels in a normal range can help prevent certain complications. Eating raw garlic as part of this diet may help. A 2006 study published in The Journal of Nutrition found rats that were given raw garlic dramatically lowered their blood glucose levels. Additionally, there was a decrease in their triglyceride and cholesterol levels. When the rats were given cooked garlic, there was not a significant change found. Researchers believe cooking the garlic may kill some of the nutritional properties that can lower glucose levels.

Increases Iron Metabolism

The body uses iron to make red blood cells that carry oxygen to its various organs and back to the heart. The diallyl sulfides present in garlic can increase the production of ferroportin, a protein that allows the body to release iron and use it as necessary. Including garlic in your loved one’s diet or as a supplement can help him or her absorb iron better, increasing his or her energy.

Garlic can be included in a wide variety of dishes filled with other ingredients that also work well for senior diets. If your loved one needs help maintaining healthy eating habits, turn to Home Care Assistance. In addition to helping with tasks like grocery shopping and cooking, we also offer comprehensive Parkinson’s, post-stroke, and dementia home care Placer County seniors and their families can rely on. To learn more and to schedule a no-obligation consultation with a Care Manager, call 916.226.3737 today.

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