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Remember your grandparents saying – One clove of garlic a day keeps the doctors away? Or something like that... Anyhow, they were right, and more! Besides adding flavor to your dishes, garlic offers a plethora of well-known health benefits as well as a bunch of lesser-known benefits for your skin.
Let's find out what those benefits are!
The Health Benefits of Garlic
Garlic, or Allium sativum, is a bulbous flowering herb and a close relative to onion, leek, shallot, and chive. There are more than 400 different types of garlic all over the world, and it's one of the oldest food flavorings, used for over eight centuries.
But besides flavor and bad breath, this small but mighty vegetable has numerous health benefits thanks to its high content of vitamins, minerals, and other organic compounds. One of those compounds is an organosulfur compound called allicin. Allicin is a pungent oily substance and the main reason for that zesty smell of garlic, but also for its anti-inflammatory and medicinal properties.
So, here are the top 6 health benefits of garlic:
#1: Supports Heart Health
Since sulfur deficiency can cause high blood pressure, the bioactive sulfur compound, allicin, in garlic can lower and stabilize blood pressure [source]. In addition, studies have shown that garlic extract can lower LDL cholesterol (the so-called bad cholesterol) in humans by 10% and, therefore, reduce the risk of a variety of cardiovascular diseases.
#2: Regulates Blood Sugar
According to a 2006 study, raw garlic can decrease glucose and triglyceride levels in tested animal subjects [source]. The same study also suggests that cooked garlic may not have the same effects, and would need to be consumed in much higher concentrations for the same results. Therefore, if you have high blood sugar or diabetes, one clove of raw garlic a day will indeed keep the docs away.
#3: Improves Gut Health
Since garlic has anti-microbial and anti-bacterial properties, it's proven effective against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. In addition, it protects your healthy gut microflora from potentially harmful enterobacteria [source]. Therefore, it's a potent natural remedy for an upset stomach and an unbalanced digestive system.
#4: Acts as a Natural Antibiotic and Antifungal Agent
Besides healing your gut flora and regulating your digestive system, garlic can also protect against a number of infections, both bacterial and yeast infections, including urinary tract infections, bacterial gastroenteritis, as well as fungal infections of the skin and Candida infections.
#5: Strengthens the Immune System
Garlic contains an abundance of phytonutrients, acting as powerful antioxidants. These inhibit free radicals and oxidative stress in the body, preventing disruptive cell functions and DNA mutations. Therefore, garlic helps your body ward off unwanted organisms, preventing you from getting sick, and can even combat the common cold [source].
#6: May Help With Weight Loss
According to a 2011 study, garlic has proven to have potential benefits in preventing obesity and aiding weight loss. This is due to its ability to lower bad or LDL cholesterol and inhibit the development of fat-laden cells.
The Benefits of Garlic for Skin
Having all these benefits in mind, we can't deny how powerful this little vegetable is. Nevertheless, the full potential of garlic doesn't end there as there are other more or less unknown beauty benefits of garlic, improving the health and look of your skin and hair. Here are the most incredible skin benefits of garlic and garlic supplementation:
#1: It's Anti-Aging.
Pollution, stress, UV radiation, and unhealthy diet and lifestyle can all contribute to the free radical build-up – the primary cause of premature aging. Thanks to its antioxidant properties, garlic helps scavenge free radicals and delay skin aging. In addition, the sulfur and taurine in garlic support the synthesis of collagen and normal human skin cells, hence its anti-aging and rejuvenating effects [source].
Try having raw garlic every morning before breakfast. Of course, the sharp taste and smell can be too much, so crush one clove of garlic and mix it with a little bit of honey. You can add it to your morning lemon water or orange/grapefruit smoothie.
#2: It Helps With Acne.
Thanks to its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, garlic can be an excellent ally for treating acne and blemishes. Besides adding it to your food or eating it as it is (lucky you, if you can), you could also apply it topically, spot treating your pimples.
You can extract its juice, dilute it with a bit of honey, and apply it directly to your skin using a cotton bud. There might be some stinging and discomfort, so don't leave it to sit longer than five minutes. Then rinse with lukewarm water.
#3: It Treats Athlete's Foot.
Research suggests that topical application of garlic is a potent home remedy that can cure athlete's foot (a common yeast infection of the skin on the feet, sometimes between the toes) in only seven days [source]. This is thanks to an organic sulfur compound, ajoene, found in garlic.
If you want to use garlic to treat the athlete's foot, it would be best to crush three or four garlic cloves (depending on the size of the affected area) so that you get some juice out. Then rub them over your skin, and if you're not bothered by the smell, you don't have to rinse it off. You can repeat the process twice a day.
#4: It Supports Sculp Health.
If you're battling with dandruff, garlic may bring you some relief due to its anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties.
Crush four or five cloves of garlic and mix them with honey. Make a paste using a blender or manually and massage it into your scalp for about ten minutes. Let it sit for another 20 minutes, then wash it out with a mild shampoo.
11 Tasty Ways to Eat Raw Garlic
Cooked garlic is, without any doubt, tasty and healthy. However, studies show that eating raw garlic is much more beneficial since heat processing can destroy some of its nutrients and enzymes.
But, chewing a clove of raw garlic doesn't sound like fun, and mixing it with a bit of honey won't help much. So, here are 11 more enjoyable ways to consume this superfood:
This creamy avocado dip simply screams for a little bit of zest. So make your taste buds happy and add some raw garlic and lime juice to your guacamole – win-win combination health- and taste-wise.
Raw garlic complements almost any salad dressing, be it balsamic vinaigrette, ranch dressing, or honey and mustard. Mince two or three cloves of raw garlic and add it to your favorite sauce.
You can make this lip-smacking winter kitchen staple in just a couple of minutes. First, mix canned tomatoes with raw garlic and onions – put as many as you want. Then, drizzle it with some olive oil, and your homemade salsa is ready – and can be served with almost anything.
Taking about tomatoes and garlic, you can make tomato bruschetta with some minced raw garlic sprinkled on top. Put sliced tomatoes and avocados on a piece of toasted bread, and top it off with some basil and finely minced garlic.
Spice up your buttered toast by sprinkling minced raw garlic on top. Of course, you can eat it with salad or eggs, but it'll be just as tasty as a stand-alone dish.
If you like to add pesto (green or red) to your pasta or zucchini noodles, try adding some finely chopped raw garlic as well. The fresh herbs from the pesto, like fresh basil, will have that anti-odor effect. And together, they will taste divine.
You can add minced raw garlic to various dips, like hummus, red lentil dal, or baba ganoush. Use it as a spread on toast or as a dip for fresh veggie sticks.
What better way to cheer up your ordinary mashed potatoes side dish, than add some raw and fresh garlic to it? First, mash some potatoes with butter. Once cooled, sprinkle minced garlic on top or mix it all together.
This marinade will take you 5 minutes to make, but it will undoubtedly contribute to the taste of the fish you've prepared. Mince three or four fresh garlic cloves using a knife or a blender. Put it in a bowl and add a pinch of salt, finely cut parsley, some lemon juice, and olive oil. Blend everything nicely together, and voila, your fish marinade is ready.
Add It to Your Tea
If a cup of hot tea with honey and lemon is your go-to remedy for sore throat, try adding some raw garlic to it. It'll make your tea oddly delicious and even healthier.
Add It to Your Milk
Another excellent remedy for sore throat and other ailments is a cup of warm milk with garlic and honey. First, crush several cloves of garlic and boil them in milk. Once it cools a bit, strain the milk and add a teaspoon (or two) of honey. Be warned; the taste will be pretty intense, so sip it slowly.
Some Final Thoughts
With all of these health benefits of garlic, bad breath is just a small price to pay. Remember that raw garlic is the way to go, so use every opportunity to add it to your dishes or eat it on a spoon (if you're brave enough). Mask the smell and intense flavor with some honey or milk, and eat raw garlic straight up.
If you want to try using it topically for treating acne or athlete's foot, keep in mind that it can cause some adverse reactions, such as allergic reactions, rash, irritation, or blistering. So make sure to do a small patch test before. Apply a small amount of garlic juice to your forearm and observe how your skin reacts. If you can't see any redness or rash in the next 24 hours, it's safe to use.