Garlic is a great herb to add flavor to many meals. It’s in the same Allium family as onions, shallots, leeks, and chives which all contribute to their pungent aroma and flavor. However, it does more than add fragrant flavors to your favorite dishes. Garlic is actually loaded with vitamins and minerals that provide health benefits that have been recognized for centuries.
Benefits of Garlic
Garlic is loaded with many vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, selenium, and calcium to name a few. However, the sulfur compounds in garlic are what have been shown to provide health benefits for our systems such as the cardiovascular system, immune system, inflammatory system, and detoxification system. Keep in mind, most of the studies show the health benefits usually occur when taking high doses of a supplement. Most recent studies are suggesting that it would take approximately 4 to 6 raw cloves consumed at least 1 to 3 times a week to reap measurable benefits. However, adding this ingredient to your daily meals, along with other Allium vegetables such as onions and leeks, over a period of time can help.
Here are some health benefits:
- Garlic has been known to reduce the hardening of arteries (atherosclerosis).
- Some studies also suggest that it can act as an anticoagulant reducing the risk of heart attacks. It increases the production of nitric oxide which keeps blood vessels relaxed and prevents platelets from binding to proteins reducing blood clots.
- Some studies show that taking garlic may reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) which is known as the “bad” cholesterol in people with high cholesterol levels. However, it takes a long period of time to let the vitamins and minerals build up in your body.
- Garlic can also contribute to lowering blood pressure by its ability to widen blood vessels. The sulfurous compounds have also been shown to inhibit cancerous cells and block tumors by slowing DNA replication.
Nutrition Information in 1 serving –One raw clove has about 4.5 calories, 1 g of carbohydrates, 0.2g of protein, and 0 fat.
Best Uses of Garlic
Garlic is a great addition to marinades, sauces, and salad dressings. It adds tons of flavors to soups, roasted veggies, and stir-fries. It is also a tasty spread after roasting it in olive oil.
Diet Friendliness Chart
Cook Time: Heat oil on medium heat and add the garlic. Garlic usually cooks in less than 30 seconds. You’ll know it is cooking when you can smell the garlic and your mouth starts to water. Garlic cooks very quickly so keep stirring to avoid burning it. Most health benefits come from raw garlic due to allicin which is most potent briefly after it has been chopped or crushed. It is destroyed by temperatures over 140 degrees, therefore, if you want to add it to hot meals, add it at the end of the cooking process to limit the loss of health benefits.
History of Garlic
Historical records show that garlic has been cultivated 5000 years ago and found in ancient Egypt, India, and China. As of today, China is the largest commercial producer of garlic, followed by India, South Korea, South Korea, Egypt, and Russia.
- How to Select and store?
- Buying fresh garlic will give you the best flavor and maximum health benefits. Avoid buying garlic that is soft. Gently squeeze the garlic bulb between your fingers to check if it is firm. Store it at room temperature uncovered in a cool dark place away from heat and sunlight. We recommend finding large bulbs as they are easier to peel and chop than the smaller cloves. The whole garlic bulb can keep fresh for about a month. Once you break it up, it greatly reduces its shelf life, so be sure to use it in the next few days.
- What are tips for preparing garlic?
- You will want to separate the individual cloves by removing the layers of skin that hold the bulb together. Then, you will peel the garlic by placing it on a cutting board and using the flat side of a wide knife, and gently tapping it. Start peeling the skin with your fingers. Slice it, mince it, or just crush it whole and add it to your recipes towards the end of the cooking to better retain the flavor and also maintain the most amount of nutrients
- Are there any safety issues with garlic?
- Ingesting raw garlic may cause indigestion, flatulence, and diarrhea if taken in high doses.
Recipe Ideas for Garlic
Use garlic in marinades to add yummy garlicky flavors to your poultry, meats, and seafood. For example, you can mince cloves and add it to a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and fresh herbs. Place it on top of the salmon and veggies and bake it in the oven.
Add to Soups
Save the steps of chopping garlic. You can actually add peeled, whole cloves directly into the soups. Over time, the soup will release the garlic’s sweet flavors. We paired it with sun-dried tomatoes in this creamy Tuscan chicken soup.
Roast the Garlic
One of the best ways to add flavor to a classic side dish, such as mashed potatoes, is to add roasted garlic. Cut the top of the bulb and drizzle it with olive oil. Wrap it in foil and bake it in the oven at 400F for 45 minutes until it turns soft and creamy. After it has cooked, let it cool, and squeeze it out of the bulbs. Mix it in with mashed potatoes along with your favorite seasonings and herbs.
Here are some recipes that incorporate garlic that we think you’ll enjoy: