Raw Garlic's Health Benefits Prove Hippocrates Was Onto Something

Garlic's use as a flavor enhancer is well known around the globe. Almost every savory recipe I cook from calls for an addition of either garlic cloves or garlic powder. It's gotten quite a reputation as a food to avoid on first dates (because no one wants the dreaded garlic breath). It also has a lot of lore surrounding it - perhaps something about the best way to ward off vampires? But, did you know there are actually many health benefits of garlic?

The famous Greek physician Hippocrates (where we got the name for the Hippocratic oath) used to prescribe garlic to treat a number of health conditions. He used raw garlic for its medicinal properties as a cleansing agent, a way to treat sores, and as a recommended treatment for pulmonary ailments. Today, many still revere the health benefits of garlic, so we found the 10 top benefits!

1. Cures the common cold

Using garlic as an immune boosting supplement can help cure the common cold! In a recent study, researchers found that those taking garlic supplements were less likely to get a cold. In addition to getting a boost of the immune system, when they did get sick with a cold or the flu, they were more likely to recover quickly than those with the placebo supplement.

2. Reduces blood pressure

If you have high blood pressure, you're more at risk for heart attacks and stroke. Taking a garlic supplement every day can be just as helpful as taking prescribed medication - without any negative side effects!

Garlic has a compound called allicin, and four cloves of garlic a day contains enough of this compound to lower blood pressure and hypertension.

3. Lowers bad cholesterol levels

Having high cholesterol - especially LDL, the bad kind - can put you at risk for heart diseases. Garlic appears to have the ability to lower the bad LDL cholesterol while not affecting the good HDL cholesterol. All you need to do is consume some garlic every day to lower your chances of contracting heart diseases. Sounds good to me!

4. Prevents Alzheimer's

The antioxidants contained in garlic can help your body fight against free radicals and other oxidative damage. In addition to lowering cholesterol and reducing blood pressure, those antioxidants will keep your brain activity healthy. That means garlic consumption may help prevent brain diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia.

5. Detoxifies heavy metals

We're not talking about rock bands here! Heavy metal toxicity in your bloodstream can cause organ damage, especially for those who have an exposure to lead. Consuming a few potions of garlic a day can reduce headaches and high blood pressure related to heavy metal poisoning.

6. Prevents cancer

Those same antioxidants that are working hard to prevent Alzheimers are also working to prevent cancer. The reduction of free radicals in your body can slow or prevent the growth of cancer.

Human trials have shown that eating fresh garlic, garlic extract, or using garlic oil can be helpful. Just in case, I think I'll risk bad breath and eat a few portions of garlic a day as a preventative measure!

7. Prevents or reverses diabetes

There have been many studies lately about the affects of plant-based diets on diabetes. Garlic is one of the main reasons that eating more vegetables is helpful to prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes. Eating raw garlic lowers your blood sugar, decreases LDL cholesterol levels, and improves circulation. All of those things combined can help against the fight of diabetes.

8. Releases antibacterial properties

Hippocrates used to prescribe garlic as a way to soothe sores, and it turns out he was spot on. Garlic's main compound allicin contains potent sulfur compounds. In addition to making garlic smell super potent, it also provides all of the antibacterial properties of the plant. This means that rubbing garlic on a sore or cut could help prevent the growth of bacteria.

9. Reduces inflammation

Instead of reaching for a bottle of ibuprofen to cure your chronic pain, you may be able to take garlic supplements. Garlic has been shown to reduce inflammation, especially the type that causes pain in between the joints. Taking garlic on a regular basis can be a natural remedy for chronic pain.

10. Encourages weight loss

Who wouldn't want another weight-loss food in their back pocket? I know I could use one! Garlic is a thermogenic substance, meaning it creates heat in the body. When that heat is produced, it takes energy for your body to cool back off - hence, weight loss! Regularly adding garlic into your diet (especially raw garlic) can help speed up your metabolism and, in conjunction with other metabolism-boosting foods, can help you lose those extra few pounds.

Now, you have an excuse for carbo-loading on garlic bread and garlicky pasta! I know that's my favorite way to enjoy the health benefits of garlic.
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