Food & Nutrition
Foods with Healing Powers: The Health Benefits of Garlic
Try This Power Food
Power foods provide you with the most nutrients for the least amount of calories, and the most benefits to your health to lower your heart disease risk. The Cleveland Clinic includes garlic on its list of 35 power foods.
Click through the slideshow to learn more about this powerful herb.
Garlic makes the Cleveland Clinic’s list for supplying fiber and phytochemicals, plant chemicals believed to help ward against disease and increase immune system function. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), garlic is used to treat many health conditions, including:
- high cholesterol
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- different types of cancer
However, the NIH notes that not all of these uses are supported by research.
The Mayo Clinic reports that there is some scientific evidence that may be effective in helping to lower blood pressure. The evidence shows that garlic may help dilate blood vessels and relax smooth muscles.
Though the research is still preliminary, some studies have suggested that 200 to 400 milligrams of garlic extract three times a day for a month can modestly lower blood pressure.
In addition to possibly lowering blood pressure by 7 to 8 percent, the NIH reports garlic may also be effective for:
- atherosclerosis: Garlic seems to reduce the effect of hardening of the arteries that occurs as people age.
- certain cancers: Eating garlic (not taking garlic supplements) may reduce the risk of colon, rectal, and stomach cancer. However, it doesn’t seem to reduce the risk of getting breast or lung cancer.
May Not Help
According to the NIH, garlic may not be effective for a number of conditions that it is sometimes used to treat, including:
- diabetes: Garlic doesn’t seem to effect blood sugar
- high cholesterol: Studies attempting to prove effectiveness of garlic in decreasing cholesterol levels have been conflicting. If only high quality studies are considered, garlic does not appear to lower cholesterol levels.
The NIH adds that there is not enough study-based evidence to determine garlic’s effectiveness in treating these conditions:
- common cold: Though preliminary research suggests garlic might help prevent colds, there’s not enough evidence to support this claim.
- prostate cancer: Research on men in China suggests eating a daily garlic clove lowers the risk of developing prostate cancer by 50 percent. However, the NIH points out that it’s unknown if garlic is effective in treating the condition in men in Western countries.
Smelly but Safe
Although a strong garlic flavor is wonderful in some dishes, it can leave undesirable effects on the breath. To avoid the strong stench, eat garlic with an apple or a mix of apple vinegar and water with honey. A lemon wedge may also do the trick.
Outside of bad breath, the NIH says garlic taken by mouth is likely safe for most people.
Drink Your Garlic
To add more garlic to your diet, try this simple recipe. Add four cloves of garlic to your juicer with two tomatoes and a lemon to make a delicious and easy drink. Keep refrigerated.
You can enjoy it several times per day when you’re fighting infection, and less often as a preventative measure. If you don’t have a juicer, put the same ingredients in a blender with some sea salt to make a tomato garlic soup.
The Power of the Clove
Though results are still conflicting for many conditions, modern science is now making some progress proving the health benefits of garlic to treat certain conditions.
This research adds to centuries of traditions that have promoted garlic’s almost miraculous abilities, including:
- reducing blood pressure
- preventing certain cancers and heart disease
- increasing immune system function
What we do know is that it’s a simple and delicious way to possibly support your health that requires very little effort.