Does eating garlic prevent the common cold?

Eating garlic may help prevent the common cold or the flu, and if you do get sick, it may reduce the severity of your symptoms and help you recover faster. Garlic contains compounds that help the immune system fight germs, and its main active ingredient, allicin, has been shown to boost the disease-fighting response of some types of white blood cells in the body when they encounter viruses, such as those that cause the common cold or flu. One study found that participants who took garlic supplements had a 63% lower risk of getting a cold compared to those who took a placebo. Another study found that colds were significantly shorter for subjects who ate 2.56 grams of aged garlic extract per day during cold and flu season, compared with a placebo group, and their colds were also less severe. However, a review of the evidence found that many of the studies investigating the effects of garlic on the common cold were of poor quality. To maximize the health benefits of garlic, you can:
  • Crush or slice all your garlic before you eat it, which increases the allicin content.
  • Let crushed garlic stand for 10 minutes before cooking with it.
  • Use more than one clove of garlic per meal, if possible.
It is important to note that there is insufficient clinical trial evidence to conclusively recommend garlic supplements as a preventative or treatment option for the common cold. More studies are needed to validate the findings and determine the most effective way to consume garlic for cold prevention and treatment.
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