BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Garlic, one of the key ingredients in Louisiana’s Creole and Cajun style cooking, is not only known for adding a distinctive burst of flavor to our favorite foods but for its wide range of health benefits.

Interestingly, the encyclopedia Britannica says that in 1858, renowned French chemist Louis Pasteur “discovered that garlic has antibacterial properties and during both World War, it was used as a battlefield antiseptic, nicknamed ‘Russian penicillin.'”

So, what health benefits are we likely to experience if we frequently enjoy garlic-heavy dishes inspired by recipes such as Cajun Garlic Shrimp, Cajun Garlic Bread, and Cajun Garlic Butter Chicken?

Experts say the bulb that’s become a staple in many a kitchen can improve health and wellness in these five ways:

1/ Garlic boosts Immunity

An article from Healthline touts garlic as a key to boosting immunity, meaning it can protect against a number of illnesses. The same article says one study found that a high dose of aged garlic extract (2.56 grams per day) reduced the number of days sick with cold or flu by 61 percent.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a different study involving 41,000 women between the ages of 55 and 69, those who routinely ate garlic, fruits and vegetables had a 35% lower colon cancer risk.

2/ Garlic can soothe sore, inflamed joints and muscles

Due to garlic’s propensity to act as an anti-inflammatory, experts suggests using it to aid in the prevention of cartilage damage from arthritis.

Some recommend rubbing sore and inflamed joints or muscles with garlic oil.

3/ Active compounds in garlic can reduce blood pressure

According to Healthline, “Human studies have found garlic supplements to have a significant impact on reducing blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. In one study, 600–1,500 mg of aged garlic extract were just as effective as the drug Atenolol at reducing blood pressure over a 24-week period.”

4/ Garlic can clear up certain skin conditions

Is garlic the new Neutrogena? Not quite. But it can play a role in clearing up some skin conditions.

The Cleveland Clinic touches on this in an article that says, “Garlic’s antibacterial properties and antioxidants can clear up your skin by killing acne-causing bacteria. One study shows rubbing raw garlic over pimples can clear them away.”

That said, it may be best to consult with a physician before rubbing garlic on your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin. In this regard, the Cleveland Clinic warns that garlic can cause a burning sensation when applied to the skin.

5/ Garlic may aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia

The antioxidants in garlic have been linked to the prevention of conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Healthline explains how, saying, “Oxidative damage from free radicals contributes to the aging process. Garlic contains antioxidants that support the body’s protective mechanisms against oxidative damage.”

It adds that, “High doses of garlic supplements have been shown to increase antioxidant enzymes in humans, as well as significantly reduce oxidative stress in people with high blood pressure.”

The article’s explanation concludes by saying, “The combined effects on reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as the antioxidant properties, may reduce the risk of common brain conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”

While the benefits of consuming garlic appear to be many, experts also urge caution.

It’s always best to consult with a doctor before making any drastic, health-related changes to your diet.

In addition to this, Healthline cautions, “There are some downsides to garlic, such as bad breath. There are also some people who are allergic to it. If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood-thinning medications, talk with your doctor before increasing your garlic intake.”

A balanced approach to using garlic in some of your favorite Louisiana dishes may result in delivering more flavor, alongside multiple health benefits.