Recently, we discussed the crazy (and surprising) health benefits of black coffee. This week, we’re onto another food you probably didn’t realize was good for you: garlic. Garlic is one of the single most common ingredients in modern cooking, used for its powerful, tangy flavor. While it’s most commonly associated with Italian cooking, it has roots in most other major cooking styles and ethnic cuisines.
Beyond its culinary function, garlic is actually very good for your health. It can be used in a range of applications, five of which will be discussed here. It should be noted, though, that there are certain precautions that you should take, most namely that garlic should not be consumed in advance of any kind of major surgery. With that out of the way, here are 5 interesting health benefits to consuming every Italian’s favorite ingredient:
1.Cold and Flu Treatment
As strange as it might sound, 2 or 3 cloves of either raw or cooked garlic every day can actually help fend off against nature’s most relentless common illnesses. Of course, raw garlic is better, but even for the most adventurous foodies that can be a bit much. Apparently, garlic is notorious for helping to build up the immune system, which can never be a bad thing, especially during cold and flu season.
2. Heart-Disease Prevention
This one isn’t as uncommon as some of the others on this list, but it’s still interesting enough to warrant its own place on the list. Consuming garlic on a daily basis can help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as help to regulate blood sugar. The chemicals in garlic that handle this, though, are killed off when it is fully-cooked, so be sure to eat it raw or semi-cooked to reap the benefits!
3. Prevention of Cancer?
This one is a bit dubious, but is such an interesting idea that it is definitely worth talking about. Several studies have shown a relationship between daily garlic consumption and a reduced risk of prostate and colorectal cancers. This is theorized to be related to garlic’s immune boosting properties, something that ties into the first point on this list as well. While there isn’t a lot of research into this subject just yet, could it really hurt to eat a bit more garlic as a precaution anyway?
4. Hair Growth
For the first time on this list, we get to discuss a use of garlic that doesn’t involve consuming it. Be warned, though, that this one sounds a little fishy at first. That being said, there is some evidence to back this idea up, so it is definitely worth including, especially for those men getting on in years who might be missing a little off the top. The theory here is that rubbing crushed garlic extract on your scalp can actually aid in preventing or even reversing hair loss. Similar results have been found with massaging the same area with garlic oil, too. Now, given the pungent aroma of garlic, I might recommend saving this particular application for nighttime, when you only risk offending the other people in your home. Garlic breath is one thing, but garlic scented hair is another matter entirely.
5. Of all things…Splinters?
Not all of garlic’s uses are as obvious as some of the others presented here. Among these is the fact that garlic is actually nature’s solution to splinters! This is one of those things that we have given up trying to understand completely, and just sort of accept as true for the sake of being true. The idea is this; stick a Band-Aid over a slice of raw garlic, place the Band-Aid and garlic combination over your splinter, and the splinter will work its way out of your skin naturally. If I had to make a deductive leap on this one, I would assume that somehow the oils of the garlic interact with your skin in such a way that it causes your skin to speed up the healing process and force the splinter out. The other option is that I’m entirely wrong, of course, and that we may never truly get to the bottom of this rather fascinating naturopathic mystery.
So there you have it: our list of the top five odd, intriguing, or generally out-there uses of garlic to improve your health and well-being. Did we miss one of your favorites? Have a story debunking one of the above? Want to tell us if you’ve gotten results through one of these interesting suggestions? Feel free to give us a shout in the comments below!