Watch any vampire movie, and you’re bound to see garlic turn up to ward off the bad guys.
But can this fragrant vegetable keep the cold and flu at bay, too?
Science has a few things to say about the benefits of garlic for the immune system so read on to find out how you can tap into its power.
Meet Your Immune System’s Best Friend
A study found that garlic gives several of your immune system cells a boost.
Why is it that this potent veggie is so effective?
The answer can be found in a compound called alliin. When whole garlic is crushed or chewed raw, alliin becomes a defense molecule called allicin.
Allicin can help your body in many ways but it isn’t very stable and quickly turns into other compounds, all of which still help your immune system.
So it’s a win-win for these compounds found in garlic.
And, as mentioned before, garlic also helps activate immune-boosting cells like macrophages and promotes phagocytosis, a process where potential disease-causing pathogens are removed.
As if that wasn’t enough for one tiny vegetable, garlic also helps your immune system produce more antibodies and balance cytokine production, which is important because too many can make you very sick.
Garlic In The Battle Against The Common Cold And Flu
Garlic is beneficial for overall cell function but researchers have looked deeper into its effectiveness.
How does garlic stack up against viruses like the common cold and flu?
In a randomized, double-blind study, garlic supplements turned out to be quite impressive:
- 58% were less likely to get a cold or flu
- 21% were less likely to show any symptoms
- 61% experienced reduced duration of sickness
Another study found similar results, those who took garlic were 63% less likely to get a cold and even when they did get sick, they recovered 70% faster.
Fresh is Best When It Comes to Garlic
While garlic adds a ton of flavor to any meal, you’ll want to trying eating fresh garlic as raw as possible for the best results.
Studies have found that microwaving garlic for just one minute deactivates the all-important alliinase.
Another study found cooking garlic in the oven for 45 minutes or more has the same effect.
If you can’t stand the thought of eating raw garlic, you can roast whole garlic at 400°F (205°C) for no more than 35 minutes and still get most of its immune-boosting benefits.
Aim to get at least one garlic clove per meal, if you (or your breath) can’t handle quite that much, try replacing a serving with garlic supplements for the same results!