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Garlic has long been touted as a health booster, but it’s never been clear why the herb might be good for you. Now new research is beginning to unlock the secrets of the odoriferous bulb.

In a study published in the National Academy of Sciences, researchers show that eating garlic appears to boost our natural supply of hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is actually poisonous at high concentrations — it’s the same noxious byproduct of oil refining that smells like rotten eggs. But the body makes its own supply of the stuff, which acts as an antioxidant and transmits cellular signals that relax blood vessels and increase blood flow.

The power to boost hydrogen sulfide production may help explain why a garlic-rich diet appears to protect against various cancers, including breast, prostate and colon cancer, say the study authors. Higher hydrogen sulfide might also protect the heart, according to other experts. Although garlic has not consistently been shown to lower cholesterol levels.

But before you just chop up the garlic and toss in your oil, take it slow…Chopped garlic tossed directly into hot oil, or whole garlic cooked without crushing (or at least cutting off the top), will still impart the desired taste, but with little or no cancer-fighting benefits. Once the compounds develop, however, they are quite stable and will withstand the heat of cooking. It’s suggested that you crush or chop the cloves, then let them sit for 10 or 15 minutes while you prepare other ingredients. This will give the anticancer compounds a chance to form.

Vitamins, minerals & antioxidants
Garlic contains high levels of manganese, calcium, vitamin B1, B6 and C, phosphorous, copper, potassium, selenium and tryptophan. With all this going for it, garlic boosts the immune system.
A natural antibiotic
Garlic has been called a natural antibiotic (though it’s not a substitute for them, when they are necessary to fight serious infections). It fights against bacteria and viruses associated with colds and flu. It may also be helpful in alleviating candida yeast conditions. There are many home remedies involving garlic, for various ailments including toothaches, coughs, earache, warts, congestion, and skin infections.
Detoxification
Garlic triggers the liver to release toxins from the body, while at the same time protecting the liver from harm. Garlic is great for clearing out and maintaining healthy lungs and stomach.
Cardiovascular health
Garlic improves heart health in many ways. It thins the blood to diminish and protect against clots, allows iron to flow better through the body and opens up vessels. It protects the vessel walls as well. Studies have shown that it may help lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. In addition, it protects against free radicals and acts as an anti-inflammatory for the heart, in addition to helping to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Reducing inflammation
Chemical compounds in garlic are thought to assist in reducing inflammation associated with various forms of arthritis.

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