The Power Of Garlic
In Los Angeles, there is a restaurant dedicated entirely to garlic. All the dishes contain garlic, the appetizer is a roasted head of garlic and they even serve garlic ice cream for dessert. It’s not a great restaurant for vampires, but for those of us that love garlic, it is amazing. The great thing about garlic is that not only does it add delicious flavor to food, it also has many health benefits. It has been used for centuries for its medicinal benefits, many of which have been validated by research.
History of Garlic
Garlic is part of the allium family of plants, along with onions, shallots, and chives. It grows in different types of climates, therefore it is a common ingredient in the cuisine of many cultures.
But, it is more than just a delicious spice. It has been revered for centuries due to its health promoting benefits. Evidence of garlic being used medicinally has been found in ancient Greece and Egypt. There are multiple Biblical references to garlic. It was used to increase work capacity and for athletic performance as well.1
Benefits of Garlic
Modern science has been evaluating many of the health claims around garlic. The secret to it’s multiple health benefits is the sulfur compounds it contains. The most potent is called allicin, that is present in fresh, raw garlic.2 Here are a few of the research-backed health benefits of garlic:
- Supports heart health. In a 2008 study, garlic lowered total cholesterol by 7.8% and LDL by 11.8% after 8 weeks. It also increased HDL by 11.5%.3
- Immune-boosting. A 2001 study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63% over a 12 week period.4
- Lowers blood pressure. A 2010 study found that garlic extract reduced systolic blood pressure by 10 points after 12 weeks.5
- High in antioxidants. Garlic is loaded with antioxidants that help protect the body against damage by free radicals and aging.6
- Promotes brain health. The ability of garlic to reduce the damage of oxidative stress may protect the brain against diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.7
- Increases energy. Garlic has been found to be a powerful anti-fatigue agent, reducing fatigue related to illness and exercise.8
How to Take Garlic
The simplest way to take advantage of the health benefits of garlic is to add it to food. It is most potent when it is consumed raw, although obviously the smell and strong odor may be difficult to deal with. If you don’t want to smell like garlic for days, simply add it to cooked dishes like soups, stews, pizza, or pasta. Throw a whole clove in the oven to roast, it makes a delicious spread for garlic bread.
If the flavor is just too much there are other ways you can get the health benefits of garlic. Take it in capsules as a dietary supplement. It is also available as an oil which can be added to food. If you need an immune system boost, you can make garlic tea by steeping it in hot water. Add some honey or lemon to off-set the garlic flavor.
No matter how you decide to enjoy garlic, it is an incredible healthy and flavorful addition to any dish.
- J Nutr. 2001 Mar;131(3s):951S-4S.
- Molecules. 2014 Aug 19;19(8):12591-618
- J Atheroscler Thromb. 2008 Dec;15(6):334-8
- Adv Ther. 2001 Jul-Aug;18(4):189-93
- Maturitas. 2010 Oct;67(2):144-50
- J Nutr. 2001 Mar;131(3s):955S-62S.
- J Nutr. 2006 Mar;136(3 Suppl):810S-812S
- Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Nov;51(11):1329-34
- Tags: Wellness
- Blog Contributor