Super Food Garlic

Known widely as the “stinking rose,” garlic is a member of the lily family that has worldwide cultivation and is a key ingredient in global cuisine including Chinese, French, Thai, Cajun, and Italian cooking. The use of garlic as food and medicine has been documented for thousands of years. Its medicinal effectiveness and versatility has stood the test of time and garlic remains widely used in Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Naturopathic medical practices.

Garlic is a nutritional powerhouse, with a wide range of trace minerals including selenium, chromium, potassium, germanium, calcium, and iron, as well as Vitamins A, C, and B complex. In addition to providing an assortment of micronutrients, garlic has a multitude of phytonutrients which have active medicinal properties including at least 23 sulphur compounds, the most active of which is allicin. Allicin and other sulphur compounds produced in its breakdown have extensive antimicrobial activity, inhibiting the growth of many bacterial and fungal organisms.

Along with its antimicrobial effects, garlic also has numerous protective effects for the cardiovascular system. Studies show that regular consumption of 1-2 cloves of garlic per day can improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In addition, garlic supplements have proven useful for decreasing plaque formation in blood vessel walls. Garlic is also used to reduce blood pressure, decrease the likelihood of blood clots, and modestly reduce blood glucose levels.

Some chemical constituents of garlic have also been examined for their ability to inhibit certain cancer-causing nitroso compounds. Consuming both raw and cooked garlic has been correlated with lower rates of stomach, intestinal, and other cancer types.

Despite the many positive health benefits of garlic, many people avoid this pungent food due to concern about the body and breath odors that come with its consumption. Herbalists Merrily Kuhn and David Winston recommend some simple tips for preventing respiratory and body odors when consuming garlic. Mince a garlic clove and let it stand for 10-15 minutes. Next, mix the minced clove with a carrier agent such as yogurt, applesauce, or honey and do not chew the garlic. Chewing parsley immediately after eating garlic can help to make “garlic breath” less bothersome.

With its many health-promoting constituents and its prominence in global cuisine, garlic is truly a universal superfood.

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