Health benefits of garlic
Garlic has been used in cooking, as well as medicinally in many cultures around the world, particularly in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Garlic also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D and E, as well as the minerals calcium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and selenium.
Throughout history, garlic has been used in cooking, as well as medicinally in many cultures around the world, particularly in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
When garlic cloves are cut, crushed or chewed – they release allicin, a sulphur compound.
The therapeutic qualities of garlic are thought to be mainly down to this potent healthy chemical.
Garlic also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D and E, as well as the minerals calcium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and selenium.
Research suggests that the vegetable has antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
The healing properties of garlic may help to lower blood pressure, lower LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol, manage high blood sugar levels and prevent the formation of blood clots, thus reducing the risk of strokes and heart disease.
Eating garlic as part of a healthy lifestyle has also been thought to aid digestion, boost the immune system to help fight off infections, the common cold and flubugs.
Garlic may even help to prevent certain cancers (eg cancer of the colon, liver, breast and skin) due to compounds found in garlic such as allyl sulfur compounds that are thought to have anti-cancer properties.
Interestingly research also suggests that garlic may act against a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori, which has been found to increase the risk of stomach cancer.
The intake of garlic is generally safe when consumed as part of a healthy balanced diet in moderation, although if you eat a lot of raw garlic your breath will smell strongly.
However, some people may need to be cautious with over consuming garlic, particularly if they decide to supplement with a therapeutic dose of garlic capsules.
The vegetable may also interact with certain medicines, such as blood thinning medications.
Experts also suggest that garlic supplements should not be taken two weeks prior to surgery.
This is because it is thought that garlic in high doses may inhibit blood clotting due to its anticoagulant properties, and consequently it could increase the risk of bleeding during such procedures.
Garlic is a flavoursome vegetable, and it’s often used to enhance the flavour of food.
It can be incorporated into a wide range of dishes from salad dressings to stir fries.
Raw garlic has a strong flavour, and so it’s mostly cooked prior to eating. It is thought that to gain maximum health benefits from garlic, it should be added to recipes after 10 minutes to allow the allicin to fully develop.
Here are some tasty recipes that make the most of garlic.
Garlic salad dressing
Combine garlic in salad dressings by adding ½ teaspoon (tsp) of homemade garlic paste to 3 tablespoons (tbsp) of extra virgin olive oil, the juice of half a lemon and ½ teaspoon (tsp) of dried oregano.
A larger batch of the salad dressing can be made in advance and then stored in a dark coloured bottle in the refrigerator.
Enjoy some garlic bread for lunch – add ½ to 1 tsp of crushed garlic or garlic paste according to your taste into a small amount of extra virgin olive oil or into softened butter and spread on toast or French bread. Or slice the top off a bulb of garlic and then roast it whole.
After it has softened, spread the garlic paste on toasted bread of your choice. Serve with a hot soup such as chicken and mushroom or lentil soup with salad.
Immune boosting curry
In a wok, combine equal quantities of thinly sliced onions, chopped ginger sticks and chopped garlic (a cereal bowl amount of each vegetable) with 2 tomatoes, 2 green chillies, ¼ tsp of turmeric powder, a pinch of salt and black pepper and ½ tsp of butter or a dash of oil.
Cook on a medium heat until the vegetables have softened and serve with fish or chicken and roasted vegetables.
Bok choy and garlic stir-fry
Try some delicious bok choy with a hint of garlic. Stir-fry some bok choy leaves with some chopped garlic and a dash of soya sauce.
To add variety, broccoli can be used in place of bok choy if you fancy a change. This vegetable dish can be served with chicken or prawn egg noodles.
Garlic on the go
For when you’re on the go, try garlic supplements available as odourless capsules, and for when you’re cooking use garlic-infused olive oil. Pour on top of stir fries after they are cooked to gain maximum health benefits.
For a buttery treat when you’re short for time, try garlic butter, which is widely available in grocery stores or make your own by mashing crushed fresh garlic into soft butter.
Save time and prepare garlic the easy way by investing in a garlic gadget.
You can purchase a special plastic gadget, which you roll up and then place garlic cloves inside – then simply roll back and forth a few times to reveal skin free garlic cloves.
Or invest in a garlic crusher which will save your hands smelling of garlic.