Last updated on Jan 20th, 2015 at 10:34 am

Garlic’s close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, and chive. With a history of human use of over 7 000 years, garlic (Allium sativum) has long been a staple of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.

Garlic was known to Ancient Egyptians, and has been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.

Read on for the many health benefits of garlic.

1. Know that garlic can improve your cardiovascular health

Due to its unique set of sulphur compounds, garlic can help to improve your cardiovascular health and stave off a number of heart-related issues. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, heart attacks and hardening of the arteries.

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2. Know that garlic can help to ward off cancer

According to a number of studies, people who eat high quantities of garlic are at a reduced risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as colon, stomach, prostate, bladder, breast and lung cancer. It is believed that the allyl sulphides found in garlic may be responsible for these benefits.

3. Know that garlic can help to combat colds

Garlic can be used to prevent and treat colds, as it is packed with antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Garlic also contains a large number of antioxidants, which boosts your immune system and helps your body to fight off the cold virus. Garlic can also help to shorten the duration of colds. Try drinking a garlic-infused tea flavoured with honey and ginger.

4. Know that garlic can be used in a variety of home remedies

Garlic is also a popular ingredient in a vast array of home remedies, such as:

• Soothing psoriasis. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, garlic is sometimes used to relieve psoriasis outbreaks by soothing inflamed skin.

• Clearing acne. Garlic helps to dry out large pimples and kill bacteria on the surface of the skin.

• Treating athlete’s foot. Garlic’s anti-fungal fungal properties make it an effective treatment for athlete’s foot.

• Healing cold sores. Garlic’s anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce redness and swelling, thereby shortening the duration of cold sores.

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While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.