This tasty, fragrant veggiedoes more than make your pasta sauce delicious. Garlic is loaded with good-for-you vitamins and minerals like manganese, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and other antioxidants, including allicin. The health benefits of garlic have been recognized for centuries, ever since the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed it to treat all kinds of illnesses. Now modern medicine is embracing garlic’s healing properties too. A recent study reports that eating garlic may work to relax blood vessels and increase blood flow. So grab the freshest garlic cloves you can find and add them to your daily diet to reap these benefits for your body.
1. Better Blood Pressure
Garlic has anti-inflammatory benefits and helps blood flow more easily through the body. Several studies found that blood pressure was lowered by 10% when the participant took garlic supplements. Keep in mind that the supplement doses are fairly high—600 to 1,500 mg of aged garlic extract. That’s the equivalent of roughly four cloves of garlic a day, so start chopping.
2. Lower Cholesterol
Garlic can also reduce cardiovascular disease risk by lowering your cholesterol. A group of study participants that took a garlic supplement saw their cholesterol levels go down over a period of five months. The key here is commitment. Like many natural remedies, it takes a while for the benefits of garlic to kick in, because you have to let the vitamins and minerals build up in your body. But adding garlic to your daily routine is a healthy way to develop a lifelong habit that can benefit your health year after year.
3. Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Garlic is a natural at reducing heart disease risk because it lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. It’s also great at reducing your risk of heart disease by relaxing hardened blood vessels and preventing platelet aggregation. How does it work? Garlic increases production of nitric oxide which keeps blood vessels relaxed. It also prevents platelets from binding to proteins, which reduces blood clots. When it comes to heart disease help, garlic’s got you covered.
4. Garlic for Colds and Flu
Digested garlic helps boost the immune system and reduces the severity and length of cold and flu symptoms. One study showed that taking a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds participants experienced by 63%. Studies have also reported that the average length of cold symptoms were reduced from five days to a day and a half. If you like garlic, try adding more to your meals when you feel a cold coming on.
5. Better Athletic Performance
Ancient cultures used garlic to enhance the performance and reduce the fatigue of people doing physical labor. Eventually, the Olympic athletes in Greece started using garlic to enhance their athletic ability. Now modern athletes (and regular folks too) are using it to reduce exercise-induced fatigue. Some studies have shown people with heart disease who took garlic oil for six weeks improved their peak heart rate by 12% and could exercise longer without feeling as tired. If you like to stay fit and love garlic, add a little more to your daily diet and see if you get an endurance boost.
6. Stronger Bones
There is some evidence that garlic can help reduce bone loss by increasing estrogen in females, which can be a big win for your bone health after menopause. Adding a daily dose of garlic could help reduce your risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. You still need to include other healthy foods to make a real impact on bone density—dairy products, green leafy vegetables, fish, and nuts are all good choices. But it’s easy to season your salmon and spinach dinner with garlic for some extra oomph.
7. Improved Memory
Damage from free radicals contributes to aging, but garlic contains a powerful antioxidant to help battle that—S-allyl cysteine. This antioxidant shows promise in protecting against brain damage and keeping your brain functioning better as you age. It works by increasing your brain’s blood flow thanks to garlic’s ability to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. This means a reduced risk of brain disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
8. Super Skin
Garlic is a superfood because it has so many beneficial properties: antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal. Which adds up to big benefits for your skin. Got acne? Rub raw garlic over your bumps to kill bacteria. Just be careful and don’t overdo it if you have sensitive skin. Garlic’s antioxidant qualities come to the rescue to protect your skin and prevent damage from free radicals. Using a topical garlic extract over time may have anti-aging effects because garlic helps increase the growth and longevity of skin cells. Long live garlic!