Garlic is a super food that provides a variety of incredible health benefits when consumed regularly. Garlic contains compounds that protect against cancer and heart disease and strengthen the immune system.
Garlic has antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties, so it may help to protect against contagious infections ranging from common colds and flus to more life-threatening illnesses. It may reduce the symptoms of arthritis and certain other chronic conditions.
New research suggests that garlic may help with weight control and reduce the risk of becoming obese. Cooking meat with garlic (in a marinade, for example) reduces the production of carcinogens when meat is subjected to high temperatures (as with grilling).
Garlic’s health benefits vary based on the type of garlic used and the way it is prepared. To get the most health benefits from garlic eat at least one clove of garlic per day (the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends two to four cloves per day for adults). Choose regular (small) garlic rather than elephant garlic. Elephant garlic is delicious, but it has a milder flavour because it’s lower in the health-promoting substances that give regular garlic its strong odor and flavor.
Mince or crush garlic rather than using it whole. Cutting and crushing cause garlic to release substances that form the health-promoting allicin compound. After mincing or crushing, let garlic sit for 5-10 minutes before using it so that allicin can be generated. Cook garlic as little as possible. Its health effects are most potent when raw, but are still strong when garlic is lightly cooked. Cooking garlic for more than 10 minutes or microwaving it eliminates many (though not all) of its health-protective effects.
For maximum health benefits, add raw minced garlic to salad dressings and dips. If using garlic in a soup or stew that will be cooked for a long time, add it late in the cooking process to preserve its health-promoting effects.
Perry, L., Dr., “The Many Uses of Garlic,” University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Science, n.d. http://perrysperennials.info/articles/garlicben.html
The George Mateljan Foundation, “Garlic” and “Preparing Garlic to Help Promote Health Benefits,” The World’s Healthiest Foods, 2012. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=60, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodtip&dbid=22
University of Maryland Medical Center, “Garlic,” 2011. http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/garlic-000245.htm
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