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.