Garlic might not be good for your breath, but it's great for your health. Like its family members onions, leeks and shallots, garlic contains phytochemicals that give it immune, anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy properties.
Under these three main umbrellas, there are many ways garlic can benefit your health as well as the flavor of your meals. So, if you're a fan of garlic in your pasta or chicken recipes, this can only be good news.
Garlic cloves come from a plant that’s part of the allium family of plants. It’s usually cultivated in temperate climates, mainly throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It's easy to grow and can be grown almost the whole year round in moderate climates.
According to the National Institutes of Health, garlic has been used in both cooking and medicine for thousands of years. Historians have found evidence that cultures in ancient China and ancient Egypt used garlic in their food and also to treat ailments including poor appetite, coughs, skin diseases and rheumatism.
According to one review published by the NIH, garlic has many proven and potential health benefits because of a few properties and compounds present in it.
When it’s chopped, chewed or crushed, garlic releases several sulfuric compounds. Crushed garlic — which can be achieved with a garlic press — is a great way to add this to your diet.
The most well-known of these organosulfur compounds is allicin. Its function in the plant is to drive away pests, but when released into the human body, scientists believe that its antioxidant activity and the way it interacts with certain types of proteins provide health benefits.
Aside from these properties, garlic also contains several vitamins and minerals that are essential for our overall health, including:
Garlic contains over 20 well-known polyphenols and 17 amino acids that may contribute to the health boost it provides.
The best way to get the most out of your health is to lead a healthy life. Garlic supplements, garlic powder and concentrates may help your overall health, but it's always best to check in with your doctor before making radical lifestyle changes. However, there are great benefits to be had when you add organically grown garlic cloves to your everyday diet.
Some compounds found in garlic help to relax and dilate your blood vessels. This increases blood flow and can also help lower your blood pressure. For this reason, garlic is an ideal addition for people with high blood pressure or those who suffer from hypertension.
Chronic inflammation is known to play a part in many chronic diseases including diabetes, cancer and many types of heart disease. Garlic lowers inflammation in the body, which increases your immune response and helps to ward off these conditions and diseases.
Garlic lowers lipid counts within the body. In the research review published by the NIH, several studies were highlighted that show how garlic interacts with the body to lower cholesterol, including HDL and LDL as well as the levels of total cholesterol and harmful triglycerides.
Much of the research that connects garlic's ability to fight off cancer is tenuous, but associations have been made between garlic intake and a reduced risk of colon, esophageal, prostate, oral, larynx, ovarian and renal cancer.
However, more conclusive studies have shown the ability of garlic to reduce the symptoms of many types of cancer including breast, gastric, pancreatic and lung cancers.
By lowering inflammation and through other interactions in the body, garlic helps to enhance the activity of immune cells within the body. When it comes to seasonal illnesses such as the common cold and flu, regular garlic intake can reduce the severity of your symptoms and reduce the duration of these illnesses.
A close link has been established between garlic consumption and metabolic conditions. By lowering blood pressure, lipid levels, regulating blood glucose levels and improving levels of “good cholesterol” in the body, garlic can help to prevent and treat serious metabolic conditions, including type 2 diabetes.
Garlic has been used in traditional medicine as far back as ancient times to treat many skin conditions. Now, science has confirmed a link between its consumption and its ability to fight certain types of skin conditions when applied directly to the afflicted area.
For example, warts and skin wound healing can be accelerated by applying garlic to the area. It’s thought that garlic’s internal effects on the immune system also play a part in the treatment of these conditions. Other conditions that have shown to be responsive to garlic treatment include leg ulcers and oral thrush caused by denture stomatitis.
Kyolic Aged Garlic, Cardiovascular Formula
This bottle of 300 daily capsules is specifically formulated to produce the cardiovascular benefits of garlic intake. The aged garlic used is also beneficial for digestive support and inflammation control.
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Nature's Craft Heart Health Garlic Supplement
This is a great all-around choice that can provide heart and immune system support. The best part is that it’s odorless, perfect for those who want the health benefits without the traditional garlic scent in their meals.
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365 by Whole Foods Peeled Garlic
For those who prefer to add garlic to their diet in a more natural way, these garlic cloves are pre-peeled and easily chopped or crushed into salad dressings and pasta sauces.
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Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.