I don’t know of any vegetable that has enjoyed more history, or has a more loyal following, than nutritious garlic. From repelling vampires, to treating dog bites, and used as an offering for the Gods, modern medicine continues to unearth the wonders of garlic. Its properties have been backed up by scientific facts, research and medical studies. For garlic lovers, the idea of leaving garlic out of recipes is unthinkable. That would be me.
Surprisingly, garlic was frowned upon by foodie snobs in the United States until the first quarter of the 20th Century, being found almost exclusively in ethnic dishes in working-class neighborhoods. But, by 1940, America had embraced garlic, finally recognizing its value as not only a minor seasoning, but as a major ingredient in recipes. We’ve come a long way!
What is the Nutrition in Garlic?
A serving of garlic, (3 cloves) has about 13 calories, 2mg sodium, 3grams carbohydrate, 1 gram protein, and is cholesterol and fat free. It is a an excellent source of manganese and Vitamin C, and a good source of calcium and iron.
What are the Health Benefits of Garlic?
It is the sulphur-containing compounds of garlic, (allicen and diallyl sulphides), that lend the herb its spicy aroma and are responsible for many of its healing properties.
Garlic is rich in antioxidants, which help destroy free radicals — particles that can damage cell membranes and DNA, and may contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of conditions, including heart disease and cancer. Garlic also seems to be an anticoagulant, meaning it acts as a blood-thinner, which may help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause over time.
Evidence suggests garlic may help prevent the common cold. In one study, people took either garlic supplements or placebo for 12 weeks during “cold season” between November and February. Those who took garlic had fewer colds than those who took placebo. Plus, when they did get a cold, the people taking garlic saw their symptoms go away faster than those who took placebo.
Garlic may strengthen the immune system, helping the body fight diseases such as cancer. In test tubes, garlic seems to have anti-cancer activity. And population studies — ones that follow groups of people over time — suggest that people who eat more raw or cooked garlic are less likely to develop certain types of cancer, particularly colon and stomach cancers. In fact, researchers who reviewed seven studies found a 30% reduction in risk of colorectal cancer among people who ate a lot of raw or cooked garlic. Garlic supplements don’ t seem to have the same effect.
How to choose garlic:
Choose loose garlic if you can find it. It’s easier to check the quality of what you’re getting than with those hiding behind cellophane. Paper-white skins are your best bet. Make sure to choose a head that is firm to the touch with no visible damp or brown spots.
Tips for storing:
Store garlic in a cool, dark, dry spot. If you don’t use it regularly, check it occasionally to be sure it’s usable. If one or two cloves have gone bad, remove them, but don’t nick remaining cloves; any skin punctures will hasten the demise of what’s left. If garlic begins to sprout, it’s still okay to use, but it may have a milder flavor — just remove the tough, green sprout.
Fun Garlic Facts and Tips:
* Garlic is known to repel mosquitos, fleas, and mites.
* Garlice squeezed through a press is ten times stronger in flavor that garlic minced with a knife, so use it pressed for full-force flavor. Roasted garlic has a mellow buttery taste.
* There are over 300 varieties of garlic grown all over the world. Check out black garlic on this link: http://blackgarlic.com/
* Garlic was used to replace depleting stocks of sulphur to treat wounded soldiers during WWI, and by Hippocrates himself in an attempt to treat cancerous tumors.
* There are garlic societies that meet up and eat full course meals, including deserts made from garlic.
* For just a delicate touch of garlic in salads, rub the bottom of the salad bowl with a cut clove before adding the salad greens, or rub on some sliced french bread.
* Make your own garlic infused olive oil. Simply heat olive oil over low heat. Remove from heat, add slice garlic cloves, and cover. When cool, remove garlic slices and put in a nice bottle. These make a nice holiday gift.
Please check out this week’s recipe for a simple and succulent Lemon and Garlic Roast chicken. I suspect this will adorn many holiday tables.
So is garlic more useful as a medicine or as an ingredient in our cooking? Who knows — but either way, it’s through the consumption of garlic through meals that we reap both the nutritional and medicinal benefits of garlic. And in my opinion, it’s the way to a happier life. ~ENJOY~