Though it may get a bad rap for causing unpleasant breath, garlic represents a basic building block of flavor that should be present in any kitchen. Its benefits, however, go beyond giving dishes a spicy personality — it is also one of the most underrated heart-healthy foods.
As explained by Abbey Moore, from MindBodyGreen, some of the main cardiovascular benefits of garlic are rooted in the vegetable’s gut-health benefits. Rich in prebiotic fibers, garlic encourages the presence of probiotics (or good bacteria) in your gut.
Probiotics, in their turn, have been shown to manage blood cholesterol by lowering cholesterol production, breaking down liver bile acids, and even eating excess cholesterol as a source of nourishment, according to a study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research.
“Not only is [garlic] a great prebiotic, but it also has antibacterial properties which, if you like the infectious theory of heart disease—which I do—may explain why garlic eaters have little plaque in their arteries,” says cardiologist Steven Gundry, M.D.
The infectious theory of heart disease writes Moore, states that exposure to certain infectious agents, such as viruses and bacteria, might lead to plaque buildup and eventually coronary artery disease.
Garlic, however, contains anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, so eating it may help lower the risk of developing an infection and, as a result, reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.