While Americans line up for hard-to-find flu shots, Serbs are lining up for garlic under the belief it can help fight the flu.
It’s easy to snicker at them – after all, because we can’t yet prove that garlic can prevent the flu, even if it does help keep vampires away.
But look at us lining up for flu shots – there’s not a lot of quality research behind those, either. There’s a lot of evidence that the only thing you get from these vaccinations is a sore spot on the shoulder. Flu shots may even put you at risk for side effects and complications.
Garlic, on the other hand, makes food tastier. The only real side effect of this vegetable is a little dragon breath.
And while the jury may still be out on whether or not garlic can keep the flu away from anyone who’s been exposed to the virus, there are plenty of other great health benefits to reap while we wait for more research.
Garlic helps protect the heart
One new study finds that fresh garlic can help protect the heart. It’s new to us, anyway – garlic has been used as a blood thinner in India and China since around 1500 B.C.
Researchers at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine fed fresh garlic and dried garlic to rats… then simulated heart attacks in the rodents. They found that both sets of rats had less damage to their hearts from the lack of oxygen thanks to garlic – but the fresh stuff also helped restore the flow of blood to the aorta and increased pressure on the left ventricle.
The key to unlocking the best benefits from garlic is to crush it and then let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Once crushed, the enzymes in garlic go to work – turning it from an ordinary vegetable into health-packed brew as powerful as it is pungent.
Eat it as close to fresh as possible. Don’t bake, saute or roast it – but you can mix your freshly crushed garlic into your food to make it go down easier. Finish your meal with some parsley or anise to lessen the effect on your breath.
Garlic could help relieve everything from indigestion to cancer
Garlic has plenty of other great health benefits that go far beyond heart health. It’s been shown to relieve indigestion, reduce respiratory problems, lower high blood pressure and even reduce the risk of stomach cancer.
Garlic’s also been shown to have powerful antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. And since the flu is after all a virus, maybe the Serbs know something we don’t.
Edward Martin is a health journalist who writes about today's most pressing health issues. He chronicles the most cutting-edge alternative methods for beating everything from diabetes to cancer and reports on the latest FDA foul-ups and Big Pharma conspiracies.