Consumer Reports: Garlic for your health

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Many foods are said to have healing properties. Claims surrounding the health benefits of garlic have swirled for centuries. (WLS)

Many foods are said to have healing properties. Claims surrounding the health benefits of garlic have swirled for centuries. It has been said to do everything from ward off the common cold, to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol and lower your risk of cancer.

While some of those claims are way overblown, Consumer Reports says there is some truth to the health benefits of garlic.

A little garlic punches up most any dish and Consumer Reports says it can reportedly add some 'oomph' to your health, as well.

"The research isn't quite there yet, but the strongest evidence to date does suggest that garlic may benefit the heart," Julia Calderone, Consumer Reports.

Some data indicates that a daily dose of garlic can help reduce elevated levels of both cholesterol and blood pressure.

"It's not quite as good as our medications, but it does certainly have a nice effect," Calderone said.

Some research also shows people who took a daily garlic supplement for a year, had slower plaque buildup from coronary artery disease, than people who took a placebo.

One or two cloves a day is good to keep in mind. But don't overdo it if you're taking blood thinners, because too much garlic may pose a bleeding risk.

"The best way to reap the health benefits of garlic is to use it fresh. In fact, the fresher the garlic, the higher the concentration of the active ingredients," Calderone said.

Also, chop it, for health. Chopping, smashing and slicing garlic triggers an enzyme reaction that increases its healthful compounds. Heat prevents this reaction, so let the garlic sit for at least 10 minutes if you're going to cook it.

Garlic can be an important element of the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to a better quality of life, a lower risk of chronic disease and better brain health in older adults.

As for the suggestion that garlic can ward off colds, boost the immune system or reduce the risk of cancer? Health experts at Consumer Reports say that evidence remains to be seen.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org

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