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Clayton's Health Facts: Garlic.

Clayton South, SPN (ISSA), is a recognized expert in the bodybuilding / fitness industry with over 150 bodybuilding, fitness and nutrition publications to his credit.

Garlic (Allium sativum L.) is sometimes called a vegetable. It can be cooked and eaten by itself as a delicious food. It is more commonly a spice or herb used in recipes all around the world. Garlic is in fact part of the onion family and is one of nature's most versatile medicinal plants. There are a few different types, with the most recognizable being the Regular Garlic and the Elephant Garlic. The regular garlic is what most people use and comes in a white or purplish variety. The Elephant Garlic is a lot bigger and a little milder in taste. It can also be cooked and eaten by itself. Some of the types of foods that are more commonly known to use garlic are Italian, Chinese, and other Oriental cooking. Use of garlic can be traced all the way to Central Asia.

Not only is garlic used for cooking, it is also used in the garden. Used in the garden? What is meant by that? Well, a lot of organic gardeners use garlic to ward off many insects, because it's strong odor is a natural repellent. This is also why garlic was believed to have the power to ward off demons and vampires.

Garlic is a very hardy plant and is quite simple and easy to grow. Just about anybody and everybody can grow it. As long as it is planted in any slightly rich soil, and is in a partly to mostly sunny location, it will thrive.

One of the great features of growing garlic is that it takes up little space. This makes it even easier to grow and incorporate into a garden. Whether it is a vegetable or flower garden you probably have the room for it.

Garlic is great for many things. The one thing we have not mentioned yet and could be one of the most important is the medicinal uses. It has been used for centuries, since ancient times, to treat a wide variety of ails. Today, it is the most popular herbal cure-all.

Studies have shown that taking garlic can help reduce cholesterol. One study said that eating one-half to one full clove of garlic a day reduced cholesterol levels by 9%. Another study, sponsored by the American Heart Association, suggests that garlic may help maintain the elasticity of aging blood vessels. Over time, blood vessels lose their stretchiness and harden, causing elderly people to have high blood pressure. In this study, the average garlic intake was a little less than half a clove per day.

There is other research out there that suggests it aids in reducing cardiovascular disease, cancer prevention, and even some suggest that it may help to relieve cold and flu symptoms. Some other studies have shown garlic may lower high blood pressure, prevent and stop the growth of certain bacteria, serve as a diuretic, and help in the long-term treatment of intermittent claudication (restricted leg blood flow that causes pain while walking).

Even though their is a lot of promising research out there, it is not recommended you eat garlic cloves or start taking garlic supplements. More research needs to be done and there is little control over the garlic supplement market. When you buy garlic pills, there is no way to be sure if you getting exactly what you are wanting. It is highly recommended that you consult your professional health care provider before taking garlic supplements.

If you are taking any sort of blood thinning medication or regularly take aspirin, consult with your health care professional before taking garlic supplements. Garlic has anticoagulant properties, basically meaning that it thins the blood.