You’ve heard that garlic keeps the vampires away, but if consumed regularly it might very well improve her health.

When I was young, I used to think garlic was some kind of agent used to fight the power of evil, such as you see in horror movies or read about in books. And in a way, it really is. Sure, it might increase your bad breath but, according to a number of health-oriented sources, it could prevent certain diseases and help with minor colds and infections.

“Garlic is used for many conditions related to the heart and blood system,” according to WebMD.

These conditions include high blood pressure, low blood pressure, high cholesterol, inherited cholesterol, coronary heart disease, heart attack, reduced blood flow due to narrowed arteries, and 'hardening of the arteries' (atherosclerosis). Some people use garlic to prevent colon cancer, rectal cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, and lung cancer. It is also used to treat prostate cancer and bladder cancer.

Garlic, the site explains, “is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth appropriately,” though it can cause bad breath, body odor, heartburn, gas nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It also lists garlic products as POSSIBLY SAFE and raw garlic as POSSIBLY UNSAFE when applied to the skin.

The benefits of consuming garlic, however, seem to outnumber the possible side effects.

Dr. Josh Axe, a certified doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist, explains there are seven medicinal benefits of raw garlic, including working as a possible preventative agent against heart disease and some cancers. He says it also has been used to treat high blood pressure, colds and infections, hair loss and dementia.

Dr. Matthew J. Budoff, lead researcher and cardiologist, wrote in the The Journal of Nutrition that garlic could reverse the buildup of plaque in arteries and help prevent the progression of heart disease.

Colds and infections, heart disease, cancer – these might not be the evil things garlic is used for in fictional books. Usually in those places it is used to ward off vampires and other creatures of the night. And while you might not want to string cloves of garlic across your window panes, you might very well want to start using it more in your diet.

Just be sure to keep a pack of mint-flavored gum close by.

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