Garlic has long been thought to cure many different ailments, from the common cold to the bubonic plague. It’s been used for thousands of years as food, medicine, an aphrodisiac and even currency. It was thought to give strength and courage to Greek warriors, protect pregnant women from evil fairies, and was hung above doors to ward off vampires. Though these may not have been entirely true, garlic still has an extraordinary amount of health benefits.
Adding garlic to your diet has been shown to reduce the longevity and severity of colds by 61%, and can aid detoxification of the body. Garlic is a great source of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, selenium, phosphorus, calcium and more. Garlic can positively affect many different systems in the body such as the immune system, inflammatory system, endocrine system, digestive system, and cardiovascular system. In fact, various studies have been able to link garlic supplements to a decrease in hypertension.
The two main ingredients that give garlic these health benefits are allicin and diallyl sulfides. Allicin is the compound that gives garlic that sulfuric smell, and contains antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. It’s also thought to be the reason garlic can be effective in preventing heart attacks, the common cold, and even some forms of cancer. Diallyl sulfides are less powerful than allicin and aren’t antifungal, but are thought to help lower levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and support cardiovascular health.
Garlic is easy to include in your diet. It can be added to most meals and eaten raw. It’s important to note that raw garlic is better than cooked, because the cooking process can deplete a lot of the nutrients that make garlic so healthy. But if you do decide to consume it raw, don’t overdo it as too much could irritate the digestive tract. And if you don’t like the strong taste, take a daily garlic supplement instead.