Garlic is delicious and easy to grow, and it may have some significant health benefits.

Garlic is a multifaceted plant that’s maintained a reputation for both culinary and medicinal uses over thousands of years. In fact, it’s been grown for more than 5,000 years making it one of the oldest plants to be cultivated. The bible mentions garlic. The Talmud says that it should be eaten on a Friday. Roman soldiers consumed garlic because it was believed to enhance strength and courage. Does garlic deserve this stellar reputation?

Scientists are still unraveling the secrets of garlic. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that garlic boosted the body’s production of a compound which causes blood vessels to relax. This increases blood flow and prevents blood clots.

It’s believed that garlic has health benefits due to Allicin, an organic polysulphide contained within the pungent cloves. Allicin by itself is not a miracle ingredient. Research indicates that it’s the body’s reaction when the Allicin and other organic polysulphides are metabolized that is important. When this happens, the body produces a chemical messenger called hydrogen sulphide (H2S). H2S is responsible for sending signals to the body’s cells, causing blood vessels to relax.

Scientists are still up in the air about whether or not garlic lowers cholesterol, as many herbalists and herbal supplements claim. A 2007 study by the National Institutes of Health that was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that garlic did not have any cholesterol-lowering properties when eaten by patients with moderately high cholesterol levels.

While some of the health benefits of garlic may be debatable, it’s still a delicious culinary staple. It’s also very easy to grow and resistant to pests and disease. You won’t be disappointed you make some room in your garden for a garlic patch.