On the Big Island of Hawaii, the Kilauea volcano is spewing toxic sulfur dioxide gas, creating what's known as "vog" (volcanic fog).
That toxic yellow cloud not only reduces visibility, irritates the skin and stings the eyes and throat. But, say recent evacuees, it also leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
That's not always the case with sulfur. Take the delicious-tasting garlic bulb.
It's loaded with sulfur compounds that are essential and convey many health benefits. (It shouldn't be confused with sulfa drugs or sulfites, both of which people can be allergic to.)
As garlic grows, it builds its store of potential allicin, an antibacterial compound that fights off pathogens in the soil.
At the same time, sulfate in soil is absorbed and packed into sulfur storage molecules (SSMs) within the individual cloves.
Depending on whether you chop, roast, saute or press garlic for oil, you'll release the allicin-scented aroma that you associate with garlic, as well as various sulfur compounds from those SSMs, many of which are super-good for you.
In fact, garlic contains around 50 sulfur-containing compounds.
That explains why there's such a wide range of results from studies looking at garlic's health benefits, which include reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, tamping down inflammation, lowering high blood pressure and, in most studies, reducing bad LDL cholesterol levels.
It also helps reduce oxidative stress (wrinkles!), and some data indicate that it supports your immune system to help you fight off colds and flu — not to mention those pesky vampires.
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