For centuries, garlic has been used worldwide as a natural treatment for a range of chronic diseases and illnesses, as it has potent anti-bacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects. In fact, due to its powerful healing properties, garlic is often referred to as “Mother Nature’s Underground Pharmacy”. Here are some of the many health benefits associated with everyday consumption of this savory spice.

RECIPE: Grilled Chicken with Roasted Garlic Veloute Sauce

Promotes Healthier Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease and related complications like heart attack and stroke. Garlic has been proven effective in lowering cholesterol levels and resultant plaque formations in the arteries. Such effects are primarily due to the presence of allicin, a sulfur-containing compound known to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels in addition to blood triglycerides (fat).

Related Article: High Cholesterol: What You Need to Know

Keeps Blood Pressure Under Control

Elevated blood pressure is an underlying cause of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. Due the organosulfur compounds contained in garlic, regular consumption can effectively lower blood pressure in people with diagnosed hypertension or borderline high-blood pressure. These compounds exert their effects by stimulating arterial dilation (widening) in ways that encourage healthy blood flow thereby reducing blood pressure.

Related Article: Effective Strategies for Avoiding Hypertension

Protects Against Many Forms of Cancer

Garlic consumption can lower the risk of developing various forms of cancer including colorectal, stomach, breast, cervix, and prostate cancers. Both the onset and spread of cancer is largely driven by free radical damage to the body’s cells, tissues, and organs. Diallyl trisulfide, one of the most potent sulfur-containing substances housed in garlic, has powerful antioxidant effects that protect against damage induced by free radicals.

Related Article: What Free Radicals Really Do To Your Body

Encourages Normal Blood Sugar Levels

Tight regulation of blood glucose (sugar) is one of the most important strategies for preventing and managing of diabetes. The blood sugar-lowering effects of garlic have been demonstrated in numerous studies, particularly when it’s consumed in raw form. Raw garlic improves insulin sensitivity, which is essentially the body’s ability to properly respond to the blood sugar-lowering effects of this powerful hormone.

Related Article: How Insulin Impacts Fat Burning and Weight Loss

In addition to its medicinal benefits, garlic is indeed one of the best all-natural, all-around seasonings you can find. Whether meats, seafood, poultry, breads, or pasta, just a single clove of this pungent, spicy, yet sweet flavored spice can bring virtually any food to life. For disease prevention and overall good health, make an effort to consume at least three cloves of freshly crushed garlic each day.

RECIPE: Lemon Garlic Shrimp