A clove or two of garlic a day may just keep the doctor away. Otherwise known as “the stinking rose,” garlic contains health-promoting compounds called allicins, as well as manganese, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamins B6 and B12, flavonoids, oligosaccharides, and arginine-rich proteins. Research has shown that garlic helps subdue inflammation, strengthen heart health, and defeat cancer cells. Its antiviral and antibacterial properties make it the perfect cold and flu buster. Take a minute and add fresh garlic to your meals, or, if you can stomach it, swallow a garlic clove whole.
Garlic is a natural anti-inflammatory, and as such can reduce your risk for inflammation-related diseases such as osteoarthritis. It helps enhance heart health by protecting against blood clots, inhibiting the formation of plaque, improving your lipid profile, and reducing your blood pressure. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), garlic can help prevent heart disease and its markers, including atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. UMMC also reports that its high concentration of antioxidants make it a potent free radical fighter, and that garlic may even help fight cancer.
A Cancer Fighter
Studies indicate that garlic may help prevent brain, lung, prostate, breast, gastric, and pancreatic cancers when incorporated into your diet. One study showed that women who ate garlic, fruits and vegetables regularly had a 35% lower risk for developing colon cancer than women who didn’t eat garlic on the regular. Another study found that when people ate large amounts of raw garlic they had lower risk for developing colorectal and stomach cancer. Still another study showed that patients with inoperable types of colorectal, liver and pancreatic cancer had improved immune function when they supplemented with an extract of aged garlic for six months.
A Cold Buster
Garlic isn’t just an overall immune booster. Studies have shown that its unique makeup of biochemicals—tannins, saponins, phenols, flavonoids, and essential oils—has the power to eradicate antibiotic-resistant superbugs…infectious organisms that were resistant to more than 10 pharmaceutical antibiotics!
One study showed that when people ate whole garlic (ground up with a mortar and pestle) for three months they succumbed to fewer colds than people who took a placebo. Garlic eaters who did get sick had a shortened duration of cold or flu by approximately one day.
However you take garlic—mixed in your food, drank as a tea with honey, or swallowed raw—it immediately sets to work improving your health. If you’ve mastered the ways of fresh, raw garlic, consider branching out with sprouted garlic or fermented “black” garlic.
Sprouted garlic is simply garlic that’s been sitting around for a while and starts to sprout. Don’t get rid of it! The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports that garlic sprouted for five days may exhibit higher antioxidant activity than younger, fresher garlic.
Fermented black garlic is also gaining a reputation for health. A 2009 animal-based study conducted by Japanese researchers showed that fermented black garlic is more potent than fresh garlic when it comes to reducing the size of tumors. Another study found that black garlic possesses two times the antioxidant capacity as fresh garlic. It appears that the aging process doubles the anti-aging and longevity-promoting powers of garlic.