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(CNN)For thousands of years, we've used one vegetable as a spice to flavor our toast, treat ear infections and ward off vampires: garlic.

Garlic is the edible bulb of a plant in the lily family, native to central Asia. In addition to making food taste better, it has traditionally been used for health purposes by cultures such as the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Japanese.
The folkloric link between vampires and garlic has to do with allicin, the major sulfur "compound that is (briefly) released when the garlic clove is cut," said Eric Block, a distinguished professor emeritus of chemistry at the University at Albany State University of New York and author of "Garlic and Other Alliums: The Lore and the Science."
    "The reason for the presence of sulfur compounds in garlic is to allow the garlic bulb to survive (while it's) in the ground, where it's surrounded by predators microscopic and larger," Block said. The smelly, burning "compounds that are released when the garlic clove is disrupted serve to deter further attack."
      Some medieval Europeans believed that vampires -- the fictional blood-drinkers that have come to dominate the horror genre -- were created by a blood disease, so people carried garlic thinking it was a strong antibiotic that could kill the monsters. Read MoreGarlic -- supposedly the most popular "vampire repellent" -- is displayed in the world's first vampire museum in Paris on April 1, 2005. The blood disorder porphyria may have supported this belief, according to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Porphyria is a group of disorders characterized by a defective enzyme our bodies need to make heme, the deep-red, iron-containing compounds that help transport oxygen throughout the body. Complications of the disorder can make skin pale and shrink gums, which can make teeth look bigger. Garlic and sunlight can worsen the symptoms, so people with porphyria might avoid it -- a habit some people attributed to vampirism. By drinking human blood, "vampires (or people with porphyria) might theoretically replenish their heme stores," said a 2014 paper published in QJM: An International Journal of Medicine. The role of allicin found in garlicAllicin is also the compound to which most potential health benefits attributed to garlic have been credited. Some small studies have suggested that garlic may be helpful for slightly improving blood pressure, cholesterol, immune function, the prevention of certain cancers and oxidative stress -- an imbalance that can lead to diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's and diabetes. At high doses, garlic's compounds have reportedly helped protect organs from heavy metal toxicity. A four-week-long study of employees of a car battery plant found that garlic reduced blood lead levels by 19%. Bundled garlic lies on display at the International Green Week agricultural trade fair (Internationale Grüne Woche) in Berlin, Germany, on January 16, 2015."There is a lot of folklore as to the beneficial health effects of garlic in the diet," said Alan Slusarenko, a professor of plant physiology at RWTH Aachen University in Germany, via email. "However, we have no data from controlled clinical trials." Study results have been inconclusive or subpar. Additionally, many of these studies have used garlic that is a very high dose, concentrated or given in a form of stabilized allicin. Another reason some researchers have stabilized allicin is that when garlic enters the body, the digestive tract must break it down and neutralize it before the liver takes over to carry away waste and help the bloodstream absorb nutrients. Therefore, "the chances of actually reaching a cell somewhere in the body are very small," Block said. Issue: How to turn allicin into a useful drug"That's been the big problem: How do you take this compound allicin, with all these wonderful properties demonstrated in (human) cells, and make it into a useful drug?" Block said. "To try to translate that into a medicine has proven very, very challenging, and has led a lot of companies -- that are out to make money -- to make false claims based on the activity of these compounds in cells," he added. In other words, some companies have been "trying to convince people that just because they're very active in all these experiments, it's also active as a pill or as a supplement." Benefits of avocados: 4 ways they are good for youAllicin is "destroyed" when cooked, Slusarenko said, "and off-the-shelf supplements generally have no or variable contents of allicin." And the US Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate dietary supplements, so "advertisers can say whatever they want," Block said. Possible side effects Given these issues, you might think that people could just eat raw garlic for health benefits. However, this isn't a good idea for several reasons: Because allicin is garlic's very potent defense, eating raw garlic "can cause severe irritation and burns," Block said. The slower a person's metabolism, the more likely it is that they could experience side effects such as rash, heartburn, stomach irritation, and burns in the esophagus or digestive tract. 5 benefits of apple cider vinegarSome people who have consumed raw garlic or rubbed it on their skin have "wound up in the emergency room with second-degree burns," Block added.Some cultures don't have this problem. In some areas of the Mediterranean, for example, "people will chew on garlic, and I guess they've developed a resistance to it," Block said. But for many others, it's "dangerous and it should never be used with children. And it should not be used on sensitive areas of the body."A positive, not a panacea Maybe the biggest benefit of garlic isn't what science has to say about it, but rather how garlic can help us eat better. Garlic has around 2% of the recommended daily value of manganese, phosphorus and vitamin B6, and 1% to 2% of the recommended daily value of calcium, vitamin C, potassium and selenium. Garlic's aroma and taste can boost the flavor of meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, pastas, pizzas and more. "It's just part of a healthy diet, along with eating blueberries and everything else that we might eat," Block said. Get CNN Healths weekly newsletter

      Sign up here to get The Results Are In with Dr. Sanjay Gupta every Tuesday from the CNN Health team.

        "Scientifically, garlic and onions and related plants are really one of nature's wonders. I think that there's some very exciting science that one can discover," Block said."It's possible that, in the future, scientists will discover ways to utilize these remarkable molecules in a way to treat disease. But again, that has to be done using the full power of science to test compounds in a fair and honest way to make sure that they actually work."

        News Source: CNN

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        5 Jets That Could Be on the Chopping Block After Minicamp

        Getty New York Jets edge rusher Kyle Phillips is among the players on the roster bubble this summer.

        The New York Jets have now completed their first two steps of the offseason, OTAs and mandatory minicamp.

        While there was a good deal of Gang Green players that seized the day during the spring sessions, a portion faltered. Those players must change that narrative during training camp and preseason, otherwise they’ll likely see their locker cleared out and their nametag removed.

        The NFL is a tough, coldhearted business for the average athlete. Rosters are required to shrink down from somewhere in the mid-80s to a strict 53-man group, plus a practice squad which could be 16 players again in 2021 due to Covid protocols.

        There are rules for which players may join the practice squad though, and generally, those spots are reserved for younger developmental pieces.

        The Jets appear to have one of their most competitive rosters in years, which means many players may not make the cut. Here are five that have to pick up the pace after a slow start in spring.


        Pass Catcher Highlights From OTA Practice (5/25) | The New York Jets | NFLCheck out pass catcher highlights from day 2 of OTA practice. Subscribe to the New York Jets YT Channel: For more Jets NFL Action: #NewYorkJets #Jets #NFL For more Jets action: 5 Jets That Could Be Cut Before Week 15. Kyle Phillips, Edge Rusher

        The undrafted free agent out of Tennessee was actually one of Mike Maccagnan’s last moves on the job. He had an encouraging rookie campaign with 1.5 sacks and nine pressures, as well as 39 total tackles with seven for a loss.

        Unfortunately, Phillips was outshined by prospects like Bryce Huff and John Franklin-Myers the following season, and now he may just be a victim of circumstance after a 2020 injury. The Jets brought in multiple free agents on the edge this season including Carl Lawson, Vinny Curry and Ronald Blair. 2021 undrafted free agent Hamilcar Rashed Jr. is also competing for a spot on the 53 or the practice squad.

        Phillips is too small to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 and too big to play linebacker, so the defensive end role is really the only place he fits. After a quiet OTAs for the third-year pro, — especially with players like Jabari Zuniga making plays in the new 4-3 scheme — it may be tough for Phillips to make this roster.

        4. Vyncint Smith, Wide Receiver

        We already listed Smith as a longshot to make the roster back in May, but the speedy wide-outs chances could be even more in doubt now after a mistake-heavy spring.

        Here’s one of Zach Wilson’s (@zachkapono1) interceptions that deflected off of Vyncint Smith into the waiting arms of fellow rookie Jason Pinnock (@Jason_Pinnock). Pinnock was running with the 1’s & has shown some flashes coming out of @Pitt_FB: #Jets ???? @nyjets

        — Paul Andrew Esden Jr (@BoyGreen25) June 15, 2021

        Of course, Smith still has a lot of raw intangibles that could make him irresistible for a coordinator like Mike LaFleur that loves a diverse blend of talent in his wide receiver room. The former Division II undrafted free agent out of Limestone College ran a 4.36 40-yard dash with a 39.5-inch vertical and a 130-inch broad jump.

        He’s a frustrating talent who’s always a threat for a monster play or a killer drop at any given moment. Here’s Smith’s best catch from minicamp, connecting with James Morgan on a deep shot.

        [email protected] and @vyncintsmith connecting on the deep ball ????

        — New York Jets (@nyjets) June 16, 2021

        3. Lamar Jackson, Cornerback

        There’s a growing trend on this list, lots of former undrafted free agents and Jackson actually isn’t the last. That’s just the way of the league though, a lot of these guys get an opportunity for a season or two and then move on to the next franchise that will give them a shot. At the end of the day, no draft capital was spent on these players, which makes it easier for general managers to move on from them.

        The lesser-known Lamar Jackson got a huge chance to prove himself in 2020 after Pierre Desir was released. The rookie had mixed results but unfortunately, he may end up being remembered for the really bad more so than the surprisingly good.

        Giving up a "demoralizing" bomb touchdown with five seconds left to Carr/Ruggs was one of the best plays in Jets history

        — Ryan Glasspiegel (@sportsrapport) December 6, 2020

        Jackson registered a 60.9 completion percentage against with an ugly five touchdowns allowed in year one. He was credited with two passes defended and a 50.4 grade on Pro Football Focus. The cornerback will face stiff competition in training camp after Joe Douglas loaded up on young CBs in the draft.

        2. Lawrence Cager, Wide Receiver

        The final undrafted prospect on this list, I promise. Like Smith, Cager finds himself in a very crowded wide receiver room, except the Miami-Georgia product has less about his game that makes him stand out.

        His best attribute is his size, at 6-foot-5 and 220-pounds. His worst is his catch percentage, a miserable 33.3%. Cager is probably most similar to Denzel Mims in this Jets’ wide receiving core, and some believe the Baylor product may not fit LaFleur’s offense as well as other players on the roster. What does that say for Cager’s chances?

        1. Chuma Edoga, Offensive Tackle

        I’m becoming more and more convinced that if the Jets do indeed sign Morgan Moses, George Fant will turn into an expensive swing tackle/insurance policy that is also utilized in jumbo sets. I do not expect either of the right tackles to make the transition to guard, especially since Greg Van Roten is supposedly picking up the new scheme well after an encouraging spring.

        The Jets also brought in three developmental tackles as a part of the 2021 UDFA class. That means either Edoga or Conor McDermott could see their roster spot being in jeopardy. Edoga has the higher draft status over McDermott, a former Maccagnan third-round pick in 2019, but he’s been unreliable and injury-prone during his short tenure with the team.

        Who is that, Reggie White?

        Chuma Edoga having issues with Ryan Kerrigan. #TakeFlight

        — Jets X-Factor (@jetsxfactor) November 17, 2019

        McDermott has also seen reps at OTAs with Mekhi Becton and Edoga sidelined. The USC product has committed nine penalties in 12 starts, with no GM-ties to Douglas’ regime.

        Honorable Mentions

        Backup Quarterback Situation

        The Jets have elected to stick with Morgan and Mike White as the backup QBs behind Zach Wilson for now. The pair had a better minicamp than their OTA performance but this could still change late if Douglas decides to bring in a veteran like Nick Foles.

        Excess Wide Receivers & Special Teamers

        Wide-outs like Josh Malone, Matt Cole and D.J. Montgomery may have a hard time making this roster. It will probably come down to whichever players win the special teams roles. Defensive backs like Corey Ballentine, Zane Lewis, Elijah Campbell, Bennett Jackson and tight end Daniel Brown could factor in this conversation too.

        Extra Running Back?

        LaFleur likes to use a rotation of running backs, but the Jets probably have one or two more than they need. Josh Adams, La’Mical Perine and Austin Walter are the guys on the bubble, but Douglas may try and sneak the extra back onto his practice squad.

        Do you agree with these choices? Which player would you like to see make the team out of the five listed above? Comment on Facebook @HeavyOnJets, or Twitter @obermuller_nyj and @BoyGreen25.

        READ NEXT: Jets’ High-Impact Free Agent Not Getting the Attention He Deserves

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