Garlic is not just to add to tomato sauce or to ward off vampires…it’s also an awesome addition to the diet. Garlic is technically a vegetable in the Allium family (like onions) even though it is generally included among our other spices and herbs.
Medicinal uses of garlic date back to the very beginnings of recorded history. References have been found in Egyptian pyramids and the temples of ancient Greece. Early medicinal uses of garlic are seen in China and India as well.
Today, medical science helps us understand the mechanisms for garlic’s properties. Allicin is the active component of garlic responsible for its medicinal properties. This sulfur compound is produced when garlic is chewed or crushed. This action generates other sulfur compounds, including allyl sulfides, ajoene, and vinyldithiins, which add to garlic’s beneficial effects.
Garlic’s health benefits include:
Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure
Slows progression of carotid plaque build up
Anti-cancer, especially stomach and colon cancers
When buying garlic, avoid buying garlic in the supermarket particularly the bulbs that appear “bleached white” and very uniform in white color throughout. These bulbs, especially those sourced from China, have been sprayed with chemicals, including bleach, to whiten the bulbs, to stop sprouting, and to kill insects and retard other growth. Another tip…never buy garlic already minced in a jar. Buying already minced means most of the beneficial nutrients will have dissipated and these are typically packed in poor quality oils. Pre-peeled cloves are acceptable to purchase but if you won’t be using them quickly, store them in the freezer in a sealed plastic storage bag. Store whole garlic bulbs in a cool dry place in a mesh container or bag to allow for ventilation. Do not store garlic in the refrigerator.
I use a ton of garlic in so many dishes because it’s just so flavorful and so healthful, especially during cold & flu season. Just make sure everyone around you is eating as much as you are!! :)