Garlic has been said to do everything from warding off the common cold to lowering high blood pressure and reducing your risk of cancer. While some of those claims may be overblown, studies have shown there is some truth to it.

“The research isn’t quite there yet, but the strongest evidence to date does suggest that garlic may benefit the heart,” said Julia Calderone with Consumer Reports.

Some data suggests that a daily dose of garlic can help reduce elevated levels of both cholesterol and blood pressure.

“It’s not quite as good as our medications, but it does certainly have a nice effect,” explained Calderone.

Research also shows people who took a daily garlic supplement for a year had slower plaque buildup from coronary artery disease, than people who took a placebo.

Eating one or two cloves a day is good to keep in mind, but don’t overdo it if you’re taking blood thinners, because too much garlic may pose a bleeding risk.

Calderone says the best way to reap the health benefits of garlic, is to use it fresh.

“In fact, the fresher the garlic, the higher the concentration of the active ingredients,” said Calderone.

And chop it up. Chopping, smashing and slicing garlic triggers an enzyme reaction that increases its healthful compounds.

Heat prevents this reaction, so let the garlic sit for at least 10 minutes if you’re going to cook it.

Try to use the freshest bulbs. Although garlic can keep for months it's best to eat it within a week.

And the suggestion that garlic can ward off colds, boost the immune system or reduce the risk of cancer? There's still not enough evidence to say for sure.

If you do start eating more garlic, you’ll likely want to find ways to combat garlic breath. Studies have shown munching on raw mint leaves, apples, or lettuce after a garlicky meal can help to neutralize the sulfur compounds responsible for the odour.