If you spent the winter hibernating inside your "lair," eating comfort foods, and not moving around much... you may be emerging with a little extra "padding" around your middle this spring.

Aren't we all!

Problem is, many of us still haven't lost those extra pounds from LAST winter... and even the winter before that.

And if you're carrying more weight than you should, things may be "heating up" right about now -- and I'm not talking about the warmer spring weather.

You see, studies have shown that excess weight can ramp up INFLAMMATION in your body, putting you at greater risk of everything from heart disease to diabetes to cancer.

Of course, shedding pounds is the best way to tamp down the "flames."

But according to a new study, there's a natural way to ease inflammation... even if that winter weight DOESN'T melt off when the snow does.

It's a tasty seasoning that just so happens to add a little "heat" to your favorite dishes.

I'm talking about garlic!

In a study out of the University of Florida, researchers measured the levels of inflammatory markers in the blood of about 50 obese folks and then split them into two groups: Half took aged garlic extract, and the other half took a placebo.

After six weeks, it turned out that inflammatory markers DECREASED among those who took the garlic extract, while members of the placebo group showed no change.

That means that garlic was able to help extinguish the "fire," even though the participants had made no changes to their diet or exercise routines OR shed any pounds!

What's more, by the end of the study, members of the garlic group also had lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol than those in the placebo group.

And that squares with previous research that's shown that garlic extract can reduce the buildup of plaque in your arteries.

This small but mighty bulb has also been shown to ward off colds and flu... lower your risk of osteoarthritis... and even beat back certain cancers.

Now, the study used an "aged" extract version of garlic that's processed to be "odorless" and can be found at most health food stores.

And if you're worried about dreaded "garlic breath," that might be a good choice.

But there's some debate about whether the extract is more or less effective than the fresh (a.k.a. stinky) kind.

Either way, you really can't go wrong with cracking open a few cloves and incorporating them into your meals.

And if you're looking to shed pounds, garlic pairs exceptionally well with Paleo-friendly dishes like leg of lamb and roasted asparagus.

Of course, Italian food is garlic heaven -- but try substituting zucchini "zoodles" for pasta to "lighten up" for spring.

And if you prepare a garlicky feast for the entire family, no one will notice your dragon breath.