Garlic comes with a lot of emotion. Some love it; others are repulsed by the smell—or at least don’t like “wearing” the smell if they eat too much! However, garlic was used for centuries as a natural healer and preventative. The ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese all used this herb as a medicine. Before Olympic events, the ancient Greeks gave garlic to their athletes to help reduce fatigue and improve athletic performance.
The offensive odor of garlic comes from a sulphur compound called allicin. That compound, however, is loaded with potential health benefits. Garlic contains at least a little bit of almost any nutrient we need. Most nutritionists recommend taking 900 – 1500 mg./day.
Health Benefits of Garlic
- Lowers LDL cholesterol levels
- Lowers blood pressure (High doses are needed, but sometimes they have been found to be as effective as blood pressure medications.)
- Improves circulation
- Strengthens the heart
- Thins the blood
- Stimulates the immune system
- Relieves symptoms of arthritis
- Helps with blood sugar disorders, allergies, bronchitis, asthma, and yeast infections
- May prevent viral infections
- Protects against microbes such as herpes and candida
- Can detoxify heavy metals in the body (In one study, garlic reduced lead levels in employees in a car battery plant by 19%)
- Shown to decrease incidence of colon cancer by 35% (in a study of 41,000 women taking 1 or more servings daily)
- May reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia
Incorporating Garlic Into Your Nutritional Plan
When you read a recipe, it may talk about “bulbs” or “cloves” of garlic. An entire head of garlic is called a bulb. Within a bulb, there are sections called “cloves.” (Each bulb may contain 10-20 cloves.) These cloves need to be crushed to release their full health benefits. The best way to prepare garlic for a recipe is to crush it and then let it stand for 10 minutes. This keeps the maximum nutritional value intact. Cooking garlic, as with most foods, does reduce its benefits.
If you would like to add more garlic into the foods you prepare, these are some delicious ideas: Rosemary Garlic Hasselback Potatoes, Oven Roasted Garlic, Roasted Garlic Soup with Olive Oil Croutons, Linguini with Arugula, Garlic, and Parmesan, or Thai Style Green Beans. Another good way to get more garlic in your diet is to add in a high-quality capsule as a supplement.