Garlic, the pungent herb used widely as a flavoring in cooking, has also been used throughout history to prevent and treat a wide range of conditionss.
Debra Nessel, RD, CDE, says, “Research does suggest that compounds in garlic truly contribute to good overall health. Garlic has antibacterial, anticancer and anti-clotting effects.”
Garlic contains antioxidant properties that make it protective against health conditions such as heart disease and cancer. It may lower your blood pressure, at least slightly, and particularly if you have high blood pressure.
“It relaxes the blood vessels and increases blood flow by boosting our supply of hydrogen sulfide,” says Nessel.
Worry about your cholesterol? Garlic may slightly lower blood pressure and lessen the risk of heart disease and stroke by slowing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It’s also possible that garlic may lower cancer risk.
In addition, garlic might reduce the frequency and number of colds when taken as a preventative. “It may be that allicin blocks enzymes that are active in bacterial and viral infections,” says Nessel.
It’s important to note that many claims about garlic’s benefits are based on test tube or animal studies. More research needs to be done in humans to confirm the benefits, but scientists agree that garlic is a healthful ingredient.
Aim to eat at least one clove of garlic per day, and opt for raw (or close to it) for maximum benefits.