Garlic Fights the Flu?

While Americans line up for hard-to-find flu shots, Serbs are lining up for garlic under the belief it can help fight the flu.

It’s easy to snicker at them – after all, there’s no real research out there to prove that garlic can prevent the flu, even if it does help keep vampires away.

But look at us lining up for flu shots – there’s not a lot of quality research behind those, either. There’s a lot of evidence that the only thing you get from these vaccinations is a sort spot on the shoulder. Flu shots may even put you at risk for side effects and complications.

Garlic, on the other hand, makes food tastier. The only real side effect of this vegetable is a little dragon breath.

And while garlic may not keep the flu away from anyone who’s been exposed to the virus, there are plenty of other great health benefits.

One new study finds that fresh garlic can help protect the heart. It’s new to us, anyway – garlic has been used as a blood thinner in India and China since around 1500 B.C.

Researchers at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine fed fresh garlic and dried garlic to rats… then simulated heart attacks in the rodents. They found that both sets of rats had less damage to their hearts from the lack of oxygen thanks to garlic – but the fresh stuff also helped restore the flow of blood to the aorta and increased pressure on the left ventricle.

The key to unlocking the best benefits from garlic is to crush it and then let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Once crushed, the enzymes in garlic go to work – turning it from an ordinary vegetable into health-packed brew as powerful as it is pungent.

Eat it as close to fresh as possible. Don’t bake, sauté or roast it – but you can mix your freshly crushed garlic into your food to make it go down easier. Finish your meal with some parsley or anise to lessen the effect on your breath.

Garlic has plenty of other great health benefits that go far beyond heart health. It’s been shown to relieve indigestion, reduce respiratory problems, lower high blood pressure and even reduce the risk of stomach cancer.

Garlic’s also been shown to have powerful antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. And since the flu is after all a virus, maybe the Serbs know something we don’t.

References:

Swine flu causes surge of garlic sales in Serbia http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iUAA2GCLG%20-ftUe92AbU5GN4aC4vgD9BUMV9G5

Protect your heart with fresh garlic http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/11/13/moh.healthmag.garlic/index.html

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Edward Martin writes House Calls, a daily letter chronicling the most cutting-edge alternative methods for beating diabetes and cancer, to the latest FDA foul-ups and Big Pharma conspiracies.

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