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Health and Fitness News

Bad Breath and All

Eat more garlic. Here’s why.

Whether used in stir-fry, salsas, salads, or soups, garlic may be a food you want to eat more often. Known for its strong odor and flavor, garlic is also recognized for its powerful healing properties. Ancient Egyptian, Greek, Babylonian, Roman, and Chinese civilizations used garlic to season food and treat various illnesses. And for good reason.

Garlic is a member of the onion family. When a garlic clove is crushed, chopped, or chewed, sulfur compounds are released. Called allicin, this powerful antioxidant compound is what gives garlic is pungent smell, flavor, and health benefits.

According to myths and legends, garlic wards off evil vampires. You may not need garlic for protection from vampires, but it may help protect you from the health troubles below. Just remember to brush your teeth after you eat it.

Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food. - Hippocrates

Heart Disease

One effect that allicin and garlic’s other powerful compounds have on health is its ability to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and thereby reduce your risk of heart disease. The world’s leading cause of death is often attributed to high blood pressure and high cholesterol that cause heart attacks and strokes. Eating garlic improves the flexibility of blood vessels and heals blood vessel damage from chronic inflammation.

Garlic supplements at high doses have been shown to be as effective at lowering blood pressure as prescription medication. The amount of garlic required to gain this effect is equal to four garlic cloves a day.

Colds and Flu

Garlic may also fend off the common cold, respiratory illness, and flu virus. Eating garlic provides a boost to your immune system so your body is better able to defend itself against foreign invaders. When you do get a cold, high doses of garlic can help shorten the length and reduce the severity of your illness by up to 70 percent. During the winter months when illness is more rampant, you may want to increase your consumption of garlic to stay healthy.

Cancer

Garlic’s effect on the immune system may help in the fight against cancer. A diet that includes garlic may potentially protect you from cancers of the upper digestive tract including cancers of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, and stomach. The strong sulfur compounds may also help prevent the development of lung cancer. Further studies are needed to confirm the role garlic plays in the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Free radicals damage the body’s cells, causing your body and brain to age faster. The antioxidants in garlic help protect your brain from the damage caused by free radicals. They also strengthen your cardiovascular system. For these two reasons, garlic may protect you from developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Heavy Metal Damage

Exposure to heavy metals such as lead, mercury, or cadmium can lead to kidney damage, neurological problems, headaches, or high blood pressure. When taken in high doses, garlic may reduce the levels of these metals in the blood and thereby protect organs from damage caused by heavy metal exposure.

Nutritious and Delicious

Garlic not only tastes good and fends off disease, but it’s full of nutritious goodness. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals such as manganese, vitamin B6, and vitamin C and also contains selenium, calcium, copper, potassium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamin B1.

If you’re not already eating garlic, it’s easy to add to your diet. Make bland dishes savory without adding calories or unhealthy fats. You can buy garlic in whole cloves, powders, pastes, oils, or supplements. In order to get the greatest benefit from allicin, crush your garlic and add it to your food after cooking.