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The glory of garlic

Garlic, a pungent bulb that is a rich source of manganese, selenium and vitamin C, has a long history of use as a medicinal plant and one with a host of established health benefits. According to a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, garlic boosts the body’s natural supply of hydrogen sulfide, which acts as an antioxidant that relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow. However, you need to eat the equivalent of two medium-sized cloves per day to get any benefit.

A review of 29 studies in 2009 which involved a total of 1794 participants did find that eating garlic regularly could produce ‘modest reductions’ in total cholesterol levels.

Garlic also has anti-fungal properties as well as warding off viral and bacterial infections. Research also suggests that garlic may act against a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori which has been found to increase the risk of stomach cancer. A 2007 World Cancer Research Fund review concluded that garlic ‘probably protects against’ bowel and stomach cancers, although the evidence is limited.

Eating garlic as part of a healthy lifestyle has also been thought to aid digestion and may even help to prevent certain cancers, including colon, liver, breast and skin cancer, due to compounds found in garlic such as allyl sulfur compounds that are thought to have anti-cancer properties.

Whether it is also able to boost weight gain remains unproven, despite the fact that aficionados swear by a mixture of honey garlic and vinegar to speed up metabolism and help burn fat more effectively. This is supposedly because the mix of ingredients causes a chemical reaction in the body as it passes through the digestive system.

In fact, all three ingredients have health-boosting properties, but there is no evidence that anyone can boost their metabolism by change of diet alone. The only way to lose weight safely is to reduce your calorie intake and combine it with regular moderate exercise.

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