Find out how this everyday ingredient can seriously boost your health.
You’ve probably heard that garlic may shorten the common cold and could help your heart, in addition to keeping vampires away, of course. This plant has been consumed for centuries and cooked into dishes to boost flavor while adding health benefits, like aiding digestion and potentially fighting diseases. The plant, Allium sativum, has a close relationship with leeks, shallots, and onions — all called Allium vegetables. A single bulb of garlic average of 10 to 20 cloves or segments. It’s the sulfur-containing compounds in garlic that have been directly associated with potential health benefits. Luckily you don’t need to consume a ton of garlic in order to reap the health benefits. Here’s how consuming garlic — cooked or in the form of supplements — can help your health.
1. Prevents Illness
Prepare yourself for cold and flu season by amping up your garlic consumption. One study looked at 120 healthy subjects and gave them aged garlic extract for 90 days while following their instances of having a cold or flu. Those who took the supplements appeared to have a reduced severity, a reduction in the number of symptoms, as well as fewer days missed from work or school due to illness.
2. Fights a Cold
Your mom might have added garlic to your chicken soup when you had a cold as a child. That’s because garlic associations with shortening the duration of a cold or illness have been touted for generations and backed up by science. Garlic helps improve the immune system response by enhancing immune cell function, according to research. Cook garlic into soups, sauces, and stir-fries when you’re feeling under the weather to help your body fight pathogens and feel better faster.
3. Reduces High Blood Pressure
Hypertension (high blood pressure) acts as an important indicator of cardiovascular diseases that can lead to stroke or heart attack. Studies have found that garlic supplements can significantly reduce blood pressure in people who have high blood pressure. In one study, participants with hypertension received garlic supplements in a few doses per day for 24 weeks. Their systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased. Talk to your doctor about natural ways you can reduce your blood pressure and whether a garlic supplement would be recommended for your situation.
4. May Lower Cancer Risk
Garlic is chock-full of antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the body that promote cancer. Though the research was more promising in animal studies than human studies, garlic’s natural antioxidant properties have been shown to suppress nitrosamine formation (found in foods like cured meats) and help “block” these mechanisms that can lead to cancer.
5. Boosts Brain Health
Garlic helps keep your nervous system healthy, which is linked to how degenerative diseases impact the brain and body, including neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
6. Improves Bone Health
If you were a cigarette smoker—or still are—you may have damaged your bones and be more susceptible to osteoporosis. Studies have shown a direct relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density. Increasing your intake of garlic may offset some of the damage done to your skeleton caused by chronic exposure to cigarette smoke. Animal studies found that oil extract of garlic may have a positive role in bone health. A human study of 60 men found that aged garlic extract consumption—in addition to other vitamins—helped with bone mineral density.
7. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
A 2017 study analyzed nine clinical trials with a total of 768 patients that had type 2 diabetes found that garlic supplements contributed to lower fasting blood glucose levels.
8. Improves Your Longevity
Garlic’s ability to help lower high blood pressure is one of the reasons it’s said to be able to possibly help us live longer. It’s antioxidant properties, abilities to fight diseases, and benefits to the immune system are some of the other reasons it can help people—particularly the elderly—stay healthy for the long term.