Garlic…just the word strikes a multitude of reactions from people. Many people eat it with abandon throwing stink to the wind. Others won’t touch it with a ten foot pole!
If you eat it, or even if you don’t, you know that it can make your breath, and in some people even their sweat, smell bad, but, are there any good reasons for eating garlic?
Besides being a welcome addition to steak, the health benefits of garlic will surprise you! Here are just a few of them.
Some Facts about Garlic
Garlic is a widely used spice that has had a place in medicine and gastronomy for centuries. Like many herbs and spices, it got its start not at the dinner table but as an instrument of healing.
Garlic is related to onions and shallots. They come from the same family. All you have to do is see it to know this. It is native to Asia. During wars, garlic was used on wounds as a healing agent. This is due to its antibacterial agents, to help fight infection.
On food, the savory smell that is released can bring people running from miles around. It is a welcome addition to stews, soups and as a flavoring for steaks and roasts. Just slide a few slivers of garlic into cuts in the meat to infuse it with flavor as it cooks. In Asia, the leaves of the garlic plant are also cleaned and sauteed with vegetables and meats in main dishes.
Health Benefits of Garlic
If you already eat garlic – good. You might be reaping the health benefits without even knowing it. Just like other spices, you get benefits using dried varieties but fresh is better whenever you can get it.
Garlic contains a compound called allicin. Onions have it too. It is known to help lower blood pressure. Increased blood pressure, combined with other negative health symptoms can lead to a higher risk of stroke or heart attack. Eating it regularly can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Allicin is deactivated by heat, so if you are going to use garlic in your cooking, to get the most health benefits of allicin, make sure to crush the cloves of garlic and let them stand for about 15 minutes to allow a more stable and heat resistant allicin formation. Then cook on low or medium heat for the shortest amount of time.
I mentioned earlier about garlic being used for wounded soldiers. It has been shown to help stop the spread of infection, both bacterial and fungal. Eating a clove of raw garlic can help ease intestinal disorders when caused by infection as well as fungal ones such as yeast. This helps to regulate the bacteria of the intestinal tract without stripping it of the good bacteria needed for your health.
You may have seen garlic pill supplements in your health food store or pharmacy. They are used to help lower cholesterol, but really there is no substitute for the real thing. A more cost effective way to lower your bad cholesterol is to eat raw garlic regularly. Adding it to your diet will help get your cholesterol numbers under control.
Heard of feeding a cold? Think garlic! Eating garlic can help reduce your likelihood of getting a cold or the flu. If you already have a cold, it can reduce your symptoms and help you recover faster. But because garlic acts like a natural antibiotic, if you are taking large quantities of raw garlic, make sure that you replenish your gut flora by getting a good supply of probiotics back into your body. Some natural ways of doing this is eating fermented foods. Some examples of my favorites are all natural, low sugar yogurt, kombucha and saurkraut.
Garlic tastes good and it can help you fight infection and poor health.
Just make sure that if you are eating fresh garlic, your significant other is also eating it. Otherwise you may find that you are receiving a few less kisses than usual. 😉