People have had a hunch that garlic was a healthy, healing herb for centuries. In fact, it’s medicinal properties date back to the ancient Greece and Egypt as well as 18th century France. Today, we know more about garlic health benefits than we ever have, and new findings continue to stun researchers.
What is Garlic?
|Garlic cloves from my own kitchen!|
According to WebMD, garlic is a member of the Allium genus and is classified as Allium sativa. It is capable of growing over two feet high, but the bulb is the source of up to 20 garlic cloves, which typically weigh one gram each. Under the raw garlic bulb’s white, onion-like outer skin, it divides into pieces called cloves, which are also covered in a white skin. It is known for its strong odor and the distinct flavor that it adds to a variety of foods, both of which are caused by the sulfur compounds in garlic's composition.
Although garlic is most popular in the Middle East, India, and China, Americans consume 250 million pounds annually, of which 90% is California grown. It is available in fresh, dried, aged, or oiled forms.
With all these options and its increasing popularity, you'll want to include this ingredient on your grocery list. Why should it be there, though? What are the health benefits of garlic? Read on.
The New York Times points to research published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that say it's the levels of hydrogen sulfide found in garlic that promote our bodies’ natural production of that chemical, which protects against a variety of diseases. Hydrogen sulfide works as an antioxidant and increases blood flow. Garlic benefits have the power to prevent a variety of diseases, ranging from certain cancers (breast, prostate, and colon) to heart disease. The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) also claims that garlic can prevent the common cold and lessen the time a cold lasts as well as lower blood pressure.
To get the most out of this antioxidant-packed vegetable, Dr. Kraus, a University of Alabama professor quoted by The New York Times, recommends waiting approximately 15 minutes after you've chopped your garlic to start cooking it. Why? This gives enough time for the garlic to reach their highest levels of nutrition.
Can garlic be dangerous? Yes, there are some issues with garlic and health. Besides the obvious bad breath, garlic might interfere with some medications. According to the UMMC, using garlic as a supplement can lower the effectiveness of birth control, HIV/AIDS medications, and tuberculosis medications. Also, because of its ability to aid blood flow, it can actually make blood-thinning medications too strong, increasing the dangers of bleeding. Garlic can have some serious side effects and interactions that you should be aware of before using it as a flavoring or supplement. If you are on related medications, consult your doctor before adding high levels of garlic to your diet.
Secondly, for the health benefits of garlic to be noticeable, you need to eat a lot of garlic… as in two cloves every day. It sounds impossible, but it’s actually a realistic goal if you aim to incorporate it into every meal.
Here are some garlic recipes to help you get started:
|Garlic cloves add flavor to|
ordinary potatoes (picture from
4 medium potatoes, chopped
1 medium onion or 1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
garlic powder, to taste
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
- Add potatoes to a medium frying pan, cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes begin to become soft (a few minutes).
- Add remaining ingredients.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are slightly browned and onions or peppers reached desired texture.
- Serve topped with dill, ketchup or salsa if desired
|Grill your favorite fish or fowl|
after applying this tasty garlic rub.
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons stone-ground mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- Combine minced garlic, oil, mustard, salt, pepper and lemon zest in a small bowl.
- Using your hands, spread rub evenly onto 1-1/2 pounds (6 servings) of your chosen protein just before grilling. Try using extra-firm tofu, shrimp, scallops, salmon, mahi-mahi, chicken, duck, pork, beef, or lamb.
Dinner: Chicken with Garlic and Parsley from AmandasCookin.com
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (each about 7 ounces), cut into 1 to 1-1/2 inch cubes1 tablespoon flour to coat the chicken, 1 tablespoon for gravy
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter1 cup chicken broth
- Dry the chicken cubes with paper towels and toss them with the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Trust me, don’t be tempted to add more flour, the amount mentioned is perfect.
- Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until very hot but not smoking.
- Add the cubed chicken and cook in one layer for about 4-5 minutes, this will develop a lovely crust.
- Turn pieces of chicken and continue cooking for 3-5 more minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the garlic and parsley in a small bowl.
- Add half the butter and the parsley mixture to the skillet and saute for 1 minute longer, shaking the skillet occasionally to coat the chicken.
- Use a spoon to remove the chicken to a plate, leaving brown bits, extra parsley, and garlic in the pan to make gravy.
- Add 1 heaping tablespoon of flour, 1 cup chicken broth and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter to the pan and stir while simmering. Serve over chicken.