A flavorful shield against infection, colds, and heart disease, this herb is well worth its lingering aroma

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When a garlic clove is cut, the exposure to air releases 200 compounds with myriad medicinal abilities. One compound, allicin, is responsible for garlic’s legendary antibacterial properties. Allicin also keeps fungus and yeast infections in check and significantly increases immunity to the common cold. More important, the stinking rose reduces risk for atherosclerosis, the cause of most heart attacks and strokes, and evidence suggests that it may impede hypertension and cancer. Garlic contains high levels of selenium, which has anticancer efficacy, and components that form glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant the body manufactures, which thwarts cancer and diabetes.

Choose It & Use It Use garlic liberally, aiming to consume several cloves a day. Excessive heat destroys allicin, but letting freshly chopped garlic sit for 10 minutes before cooking helps retain allicin’s healing powers. To eat a lot at once, slice the top off of a head of garlic and set it aside for 20 minutes. Then roast it for 30 minutes in a 350°F oven, and spread the softened cloves on whole-wheat bread.