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Anti-Inflammatory Diet Tip: Garlic

Adding garlic to you diet may not only help with inflammation—but also heart disease, cancer, viruses and more.

Garlic has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of ailments, from headaches to tumors. And there's some truth to those folk remedies. Research supports garlic's power against bacteria, viruses, cancer and heart disease. Many doctors recommend adding garlic to the diet for people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. 

Can garlic fight inflammation? 
Garlic and onions are top picks for people who have joint problems. Studies show eating lots of these pungent plants may ease swelling. It may also lower your risk of osteoarthritis by protecting the cushiony cartilage in your joints. Limited research also shows that garlic extract may curb inflammatory reactions in your body. 

What do experts say? 
"Garlic may not be the cure-all it was once thought to be. But studies do show that it may help protect your heart in a few different ways and could also help prevent stomach and colon cancer," says dietitian Janis Jibrin, MS, RD. "It's the sulfur-containing compounds in garlic that are protective. These are released when garlic is crushed or chopped, so get out the crusher and paring knife!" 

How should you eat it?  
"Ideally, you should eat garlic raw (as in hummus or salsa) because cooking destroys some of the beneficial compounds," Jibrin says. "When you do cook it, you can preserve some of the sulfur compounds by first chopping or crushing it, letting it sit for 10 minutes or more, and then adding it in the last few minutes of cooking." 

Medically reviewed in October 2018. Updated in March 2021. 

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