Garlic: the Malodorous Miracle

By Krista

When cooking, there's nothing quite like the fragrance and flavor of roasted garlic. Its rich but mellow depth is indescribable. Of course, when talking to your neighbor, there's nothing quite like the fragrance of garlic ... on their breath. It's indescribable. 

The smell of garlic may have its pros and cons, but its benefits for your body fall much more squarely into the "pro" category. In fact, garlic is one of the most versatile and useful natural remedies you can have in your kitchen. 

How Garlic Can Help Your Health

Garlic, which is a plant in the Allium family (like onions, leeks and shallots) contains a sulfur compound called allicin, which is created when the clove is crushed, chopped, or (gulp) chewed. So how does this compound help keep you healthy?

Keeping Colds at Bay

Are you always fighting a cold? Swallowing raw garlic cloves a few times a day can help reduce the frequency of colds and alleviate symptoms. Its decongestant and expectorant effects, as well as its antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial properties, deliver a one-two punch.

If chewing on a raw clove is too much to bear, try crushing a clove, leave it for 15 minutes to let the allicin develop, and then swallow it whole in a spoonful of honey (another powerful health food). This remedy is also useful for children who cannot take commercial cold medications. Crushing a couple of cloves and stirring them into honey, and then giving the child a teaspoonful of the garlic-infused honey can help ease tickly throats and shorten a cold's duration. 

Lowering Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure puts you at risk of dangerous cardiovascular incidents like heart attacks and strokes. Garlic supplementation can be a powerful ally in keeping your blood pressure down. Human studies have shown a significant reduction of blood pressure when test subjects were given doses of garlic extract. The results were greatest with the equivalent of approximately four cloves per day. Again, remember to crush the clove first and let it sit before ingesting it. And if you are currently taking blood pressure medication, be sure to speak with your doctor before adding large doses of garlic to your diet. 

Guarding Your Brain Against Cancer

Glioblastoma is an aggressive and deadly brain cancer. Researchers have discovered that a garlic-derived compound inhibits the growth of glioblastoma cells and may reduce overall tumor growth. Scientists are still cautious about recommending garlic as a potential cure, but say that the research shows considerable promise. Should you ingest garlic for its potential cancer-fighting properties, be sure to keep your intake moderate as excess consumption of garlic can cause stomach upset, allergies, or internal bleeding. 

With time, it is certain that even more health benefits will be discovered in this humble and pungent food. But in the meantime, why not add a bit of raw garlic to your daily routine and reap the benefits. Just remember to keep a few breath mints on you so that your neighbors benefit as well.