Garlic, better known to some as the 'stinking rose' was cultivated more than 5000 years ago and still remains one of today's most sought after superfoods. While it might make your breath smell, that's no reason to shun the health enhancing plant.
Garlic has long been touted for its all-round health benefits, including its antiseptic properties and ability to help prevent everything from cancer to wrinkles.
The Egyptians and ancient Greeks even used garlic as a remedy for physical and spiritual health. With strong antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal agents, garlic's been used as a natural antibiotic for years.
Today there are many folk remedies with garlic including garlic honey lemon tea to help fight infections and raw smashed garlic with olive oil to boost the immune system. We admit they both sound gross, but hey, things have moved on since then.
The best way of getting your share of garlic benefits? Fresh, peeled and uncooked.
Discover its amazing health benefits now. We promise you, cloves of the stuff are going to magically appear in your food as soon as you've read this.
1. Prevents infection
Garlic's medicinal reputation goes back years in history with claims suggesting it was even used to prevent the plague. Whether that's true, we can't be so sure - a LOT of people died back then - but what we do know is that its antiseptic and antibacterial properties were a BIG deal and still are today...
Leading nutritionist, Patrick Holford explains how it works, he says "As an antiseptic, garlic acts in two ways, killing both bacteria and fungi."
"This means that it is useful in treating mild intestinal infections, such as diarrhea as well as lung infections such as bronchitis and seems to act as a protective agent against these infections if taken regularly." If you can't stand the taste of garlic but still want the health benefits try these odourless and tasteless capsules.
2. Treats wounds
Its antiseptic properties have been used for hundreds of years. In fact, in World War II garlic was used to disinfect wounds. So how can we benefit from garlic in the same way today?
Patrick says, "Applying a topical solution of raw garlic and water may stop wounds from getting infected. A garlic solution used as a foot bath several times a day is traditionally believed to improve athlete’s foot and research has found that a garlic oil extract can cure warts and dissolve corns."
Suddenly garlic doesn't seem quite so tasty...
3. Improves your gum health
Garlic can help your gums stay in tip top condition. Because of its antibacterial properties garlic helps reduce bacteria and inflammation of infected gums.
"In a study published in July 2005 issue of Archives of Oral Biology, researchers concluded that garlic extract inhibits disease-causing bacteria in the mouth," says Patrick.
4. Prevents cancer
Eating a few cloves of garlic weekly, (especially raw) can help fight cancer by protecting the body from free radicals. Studies have shown that those who eat raw garlic twice a week cut their lung cancer risk by 44 percent!
Patrick says. "Experiments in the laboratory and in population studies all support the premise that garlic may interfer with tumor activity. Cancers of the stomach, colon and skin seem to be the most likely to be affected."
5. It's a flu-fighter
Herbalists recommend chowing down garlic cloves to take advantage of its cold busting benefits! But could a clove really knock down a nasty flu? It seems so.
Patrick recommends, "Taking three cloves a day when you have a cold may help you feel better. If the raw garlic bothers your stomach, take it minced and mixed with olive oil." Here's a natural flu-fighting remedy to get you started.
6. Helps erectile dysfunction
One for your man. Because erectile dysfunction is linked to weakened arteries, consuming garlic will see a vast improvement in his downstairs department.
"Garlic is a time-honored remedy for sexual dysfunction in ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Japan and China, which works by increasing blood flow and hormone production." With its abundance of antioxidants and sulfur garlic also helps prevent your cholesterol levels from oxidizing (which is usually the root of his man problem).
The best part? Garlic is a well-known aphrodisiac too!
7. Natural insect repellent
A pungent smelling plant can do a whole lot of damage for bugs and insects. Research has found that when garlic is eaten or applied it can help repel bugs.
?"When garlic is eaten and its components are metabolized, compounds are released from the body through the skin and breath which can help ward off bugs," says Patrick. Though this is true, garlic isn't your strongest bug repellent available and may only work for approximately 20-40 minutes after application.
But if you're looking for something all-natural (smelly) and effective - garlic does the trick!
8. Chock-full of antioxidants
Get this. Just one clove of garlic contains vitamins A, B6, and C, manganese, selenium, iodine, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium. But it's also brimming with antioxidants too...
Nutritional Therapist at Nutricentre, Cassandra Barns, says "Garlic's antioxidant effects have been found to have a protective effect on the brain and blood vessels in particular. Garlic’s antioxidants include flavonoids and sulfur compounds such as, S-allyl cysteine."
So make sure to make use of your garlic - even the sprouting bulbs! Although they seem to have passed their prime, new studies have revealed that aging bulbs contain more antioxidants than fresh ones! Who knew!
9. It's heart-healthy
If you're looking for a heart-healthy revamp consider a clove or two each day. They're excellent for good heart health with powers that help lower cholesterol and boost blood viscosity.
Cassandra says, "Research has found that garlic can lower cholesterol, and help to reduce blood stickiness (to keep the blood flowing normally and prevent clots). It may also reduce high blood pressure, and help to protect the blood vessel walls from damage through its antioxidant effects." All in all your ticker will thank you for it.
10. It's anti-aging
The sulfur in garlic helps your body produce more collagen, which is responsible for your skin elasticity. Allicin helps to provide the skin with a punch of antioxidants and while improving skin texture and wrinkles.
Cassandra says, "Garlic has a role in collagen formation, and is therefore essential for healthy skin and proper wound healing. So eating more garlic could be a great way to fight the signs of aging!"
That's it - our cue to start gorging on the stuff. Yes the stench is antisocial, but god damn it, we'll look BEAUTIFUL.
Are you impressed by garlic's health benefits? Tweet us @wewomenCA