Last updated: Aug 20, 2008
never-sick-garlic

Susan Spain, 54, of Conyers, Ga., hasnt been sick since 1992, and she credits that to one daily ritual: eating a clove of raw garlic right after breakfast. “I quarter it and put it in applesauce so it is easier to swallow and doesnt upset my stomach.”


Spain is onto something. Garlic is rich in antioxidants that boost immunity and fight inflammation, says Carmia Borek, PhD, research professor in the department of public health and family medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. That means the herb, in addition to boosting defenses against everyday illness, probably helps to stave off cancer and boost heart health.

Make garlic work for you: If youre worried about bad breath and yucky burps, youre not alone. Those side effects arent unusual, and experts warn that garlic can cause gas and acid reflux in some people. Still, up to two cloves a day is considered safe for most. Happily, there are options with fewer side effects. Aged-garlic extract is a great odor-free alternative, and it even has a higher concentration of the potent compounds that make garlic a superfood, Borek says. Try Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract Capsules ($14; health-food stores). P.S.: Eating garlicky food cant hurt, but cooking depletes some of the pungent bulbs useful properties.