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Here’s why you need to eat raw garlic every day

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Garlic. Fresh garlic. Red garlic. Garlic press. Violet garlic.Garlic background. garlic bulbs. Slate board. Wooden board

Image: Shutterstock/Marian Weyo

Yeah, we know, garlic stinks. But did you know the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates used to prescribe raw garlic to his patients? In fact, Egyptians, Babylonians, Romans, and the Chinese all used garlic as medicine in addition to the Greeks.  I’ve found time and time again that food is the best medicine, and I put raw garlic at the top of my list of foods you should eat daily for overall good health. Fortunately, you don’t have to take my word for it because modern science has found evidence to support garlic for its healing properties.

When garlic is chopped, crushed, or chewed, a sulfur compound is formed called allicin. Allicin is guilty for the potent smell of raw garlic, but it’s also the reason garlic is so healthy.

Raw garlic is highly nutritious

One ounce of garlic contains 23% of the RDA manganese, 17% of the RDA Vitamin B6, 15% of the RDA Vitamin C, and 6% of the RDA selenium. It also has one gram of fiber and decent amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and Vitamin B1. Garlic actually carries a little bit of everything we need. This one ounce of garlic has 42 calories, 1.8 grams of protein and nine grams of carbs.

Garlic can prevent the flu and common cold

Eating raw garlic daily will give your immune system a major boost. When compared to placebo in a study, a garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63%, and the average length of cold symptoms were reduced by 70%. Those who took garlic experienced cold symptoms for 1.5 days and those with placebo had symptoms for five days. Another study found that a high dose of garlic extract can decrease the number of days with the cold or flu by 61%. Cold season is already here, which means it’s time to pinch your nose and get out the garlic press!

One way to better handle the intense flavor and smell of raw garlic is to mix it with honey and add it to your tea, which will soothe a sore throat too. Keep reading for more ways to consume raw garlic.

Garlic reduces blood pressure

The best way to prevent sickness and disease in the future is to take preventative steps when you’re younger. High blood pressure leads to diseases like heart attacks and strokes. Garlic has been proven to lower blood pressure in people with initially high blood pressure. For this to work, allicin must be taken in higher doses. The amount of allicin needed is equivalent to four cloves of garlic per day.

Garlic improves cholesterol, lowers risk of heart disease

Garlic lowers total and LDL cholesterol (the bad kind). People with high cholesterol can expect garlic supplementation to reduce cholesterol by 10-15%. We know there is a good kind of cholesterol too, but garlic only lowers LDL and has no effect on HDL (the good kind). It is important to note that garlic isn’t proven to lower triglyceride levels, which are another risk factor for heart disease.

Garlic’s antioxidants may prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia

The antioxidants in raw garlic boost the body’s protective mechanisms against diseases related to aging, like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Garlic has been shown to increase antioxidant enzymes, as well as greatly reduce oxidative stress in those with high blood pressure. Trying to avoid Alzheimer’s and dementia? Eat garlic!

Raw garlic can detoxify your body of heavy metals

High doses of allicin (garlic’s sulfur compounds) can prevent heavy metals from damaging your organs. When studying car battery plant employees for four weeks, researchers found that garlic reduced lead levels in the blood by 19%. Garlic also reduced a variety of clinical signs of toxicity, including headaches and high blood pressure.

Raw garlic can banish those pesky pimples

When applied topically, a sliced clove of raw garlic can actually get rid of acne and scarring on the face. If you have sensitive skin be aware that this can give you a burning sensation. The antioxidants in garlic can kill the bacteria on your skin quickly.

So, raw garlic or as a supplement?

Wouldn’t it be nice if this were an easy answer and we could just avoid the stench of garlic altogether? Unfortunately, it’s not an easy question to answer whether raw garlic or taking a supplement provides better benefits. Let’s break it down.

A garlic supplement will provide a concentrated form of allicin, which as we know is the reason for all the health benefits. Allicin is an unstoppable compound, so it can change quickly once it’s left garlic’s fresh form. If supplement manufacturers age garlic to make it odorless, then it reduces the amount of allicin available, which in turn makes the product kind of pointless.

Talk to a specialist before deciding to go with a garlic supplement so you can get the best value.

There’s no one answer fits all in this situation, but fresh, raw garlic is going to provide the best form of allicin and the greatest health benefits. So if you can handle it, get ready to start your mornings with mmm the smell of raw garlic.

The best way to consume raw garlic

After the first time I chopped up raw garlic and stuck a spoonful in my mouth, I cringed with fear every next time I tried to do it the same way. I then began stuffing the garlic in a spoonful of yogurt and followed with a glass of orange juice—I was desperate to coat the stench, and it worked. But now I put all of the crushed garlic on a spoon and quickly follow with water and sort of swallow it down like a pill.

The most important thing to note is that the garlic must be crushed so that the allicin is released. Chopping and swallowing won’t work. Make sure you let the garlic sit for one minute, but no longer.

For a more enjoyable experience with raw garlic, try making garlic toast with honey or butter. This way you’re embracing the flavor of garlic as you reap its many health benefits.

Kate Wilke is the content manager at 301 Digital Media, and she's the editor of OutwardOn.com, DailyBeautyHack.com, and the lifestyle editor at OhMyVeggies.com. When she's not paddle boarding or skiing, she's informing someone about global warming (or cats) over a local double IPA. Follow her on twitter — @Kate_Wilke