Is Garlic Actually Good for You?

Bring on the garlic breath (and learn our tricks to avoid it).

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Photo by: Nang Saw Thay Y Laksn Chun Vthay / Getty Images

Nang Saw Thay Y Laksn Chun Vthay / Getty Images

Garlic is delicious, but it can linger (ahem, bad breath!) for hours. So, is eating garlic worth it? Absolutely, because it's not only tasty, it offers plenty of health benefits.

Just what exactly are those benefits? "Most of the health benefits of garlic are attributed to its organo-sulfur compounds," says Stephanie McKercher, RD, a registered dietitian in Denver. "Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties that could help improve stiffness and pain for people with arthritis. There are also many cardiovascular benefits associated with garlic. Consuming garlic can help slow the hardening of the arteries, which reduces your risk for heart attacks and stroke. Garlic can also help control blood sugar levels."

Consuming garlic regularly may help reduce both cholesterol and triglyceride levels, according to a review study published in Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine. Garlic may also help reduce blood pressure in people with uncontrolled high hypertension, research published in Integrated Blood Pressure Control shows. What's more, "preliminary studies indicate garlic could be beneficial for the immune system, but more research is needed to fully understand these benefits," says McKercher.

In addition to its health benefits, garlic is also incredibly versatile in the kitchen. "It works equally well in Mediterranean-inspired meals like crispy eggplant and pasta and in Asian-inspired dishes like edamame salad," says McKercher. "Raw garlic tastes strong and pungent, but the flavors start to mellow out after you cook it. I like to roast whole heads of garlic in the oven and then add it to homemade pizza for extra spicy and nutty flavors."

If the thought of garlic breath is stopping you from eating the herb, here's some comforting advice: Noshing on raw apple, raw lettuce, or raw mint after eating garlic may help reduce garlic breath, according to preliminary research published in Journal of Food Science.

Need more ideas for adding garlic to your day? Give these recipes a try:

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. She's a regular contributor to many publications, including EverydayHealth.com, ReadersDigest.com, NBCNews.com, and more. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy's Eat List, where she shares easy, healthy recipes. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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