Among the 61 medical uses that Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.) attributes to garlic in his "Natural History" are:
- Cleaning animal bites
- Curing skin diseases
- Expelling tapeworms
- Eliminating tumors
- Extracting arrows
Chances are you'll never need to extract an arrow, but you can get numerous health benefits from eating garlic. The antibacterial properties that made garlic an effective topical treatment for thousands of years work well inside your body, too.
Researchers have identified more than 30 cancer-fighting agents in garlic and its cousin, the onion. In studies with mice, dietary garlic reduced colon tumors 75 percent, prevented 100 percent of esophageal cancer, and blocked 70 percent of breast cancer [source: Carper]. A German study found garlic to be toxic to malignant cells. Garlic may be the best anti-cancer food around, especially for stomach cancer. Its antibacterial action kills H. pylori, the bacteria that supposedly causes stomach and colon cancer.
In matters of the heart, eating one or two cloves of garlic daily lowers triglycerides 13 to 25 percent and reduces blood pressure, cholesterol and blood clotting dangers. Garlic fights blood clots better than aspirin. It works in eight different ways to stop platelet clumping; aspirin has only one action [source: Carper].
Garlic also relieves joint pain, gas and diarrhea, and it gives you calm, happy feelings.
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HowStuffWorks looks at the new FDA-mandated food nutrition labels.