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The pungent and aromatic herb, garlic, has a well-documented history of human use for over 5,000 years. The ancient Egyptians, for instance, would regularly incorporate garlic into their meals or utilize it as a medicine. Today, garlic remains a staple in the Mediterranean diet and it is frequently used as a seasoning in its native central Asia. The ancient healing systems of India and China also utilize garlic and often recommend it to people suffering from sickness and disease.
The average garlic bulb contains very few vitamins, minerals, protein or fiber compared to other plant foods. It is, however, packed with some truly special bioactive compounds — and these compounds are almost single-handedly responsible for garlic’s significant medicinal properties.
List of health benefits
Rich in allicin — Most of garlic’s greatest health benefits stem from its allicin content. Allicin, which is the origin of garlic’s strong odor, is a sulfur compound that was discovered in 1944 by an Italian chemist named C.J. Cavallito. Countless studies have shown that this compound is a potent antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal and antioxidant, which is why it’s so good at preventing and treating disease. A study published in
Nutrition and Cancer in 2010, for example, found that allicin, derived from fresh garlic cloves, could kill colon cancer cells. Moreover, a review published in
Leukemia Research found that garlic-derived allicin can treat breast, bladder, colorectal, hepatic, prostate cancer, lymphoma and skin tumor cell lines.