Garlic's health benefits have been recognized for thousands of years. Throughout that time, people have used it extensively in cooking and medicine. Modern science has finally begun to reveal the exact qualities that make it so valuable to our health. In fact, studies have produced evidence supporting a simple preparation technique that may intensify garlic's health benefits: resting.
How Is Garlic Good for You?
Let's go over some of the important effects that garlic can have on the body.
- Garlic is nutrient dense. At only 4 calories per clove, garlic is packed with manganese, vitamins B1, B6, and C, selenium, fiber, calcium, potassium, iron, and more.
- Garlic can strengthen your immune system. Containing over 100 different sulfuric compounds and a variety of nutrients, raw garlic has the power to wipe out bacteria.
- Antioxidants in garlic fight free radicals. Your body is constantly fighting against free radicals with the power of antioxidants, helping to ward off many diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer's disease.
- Unhealthy cholesterol levels and high blood pressure can be improved with garlic supplementation. Clinical studies have shown that a supplement equivalent to eating 4 cloves of garlic per day can significantly reduce blood pressure, and people with high cholesterol levels can experience a drop of 10-15% in total and/or LDL cholesterol with sufficient garlic supplementation (Silagy & Neil, 1994).
- Garlic tastes great! When it comes to incorporating healthy foods into your diet, it's extremely helpful when they are delicious and easy to work with. Thankfully, garlic is both of these. Just mince it up, and add it to nearly any savory recipe.
Increasing Garlic's Health Benefits Through Resting
If you didn't already know, you should now see how valuable garlic is to your health. Recent scientific studies are now suggesting that the way we prepare garlic has a huge effect on its benefits.
The active agent within garlic, known as allyl sulfide, is produced only when the garlic is able to oxidize, or be exposed to air. This occurs only after you cut into it. Whether you slice, mince, or mash the garlic through a press, the compound is activated and made readily available after resting. For optimal results, let chopped garlic sit for 10-15 minutes before heating it.
How Can I Get More Garlic into My Diet?
Since garlic is complementary to a wide range of flavors, add a clove or two to nearly any meal. It goes especially well with the typical savory flavors of Italian, Chinese, and American dishes.
- For a light but nutritious snack, add a few slices of garlic to a mug of warm beef or vegetable stock.
- For a healthy veggie dip, whip up your own hummus from chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, and lots of fresh garlic.
- If you are sensitive to the pungent flavor of garlic, start by sneaking small amounts into your food, slowly working your way up to the desired amount. It is said that it takes your taste buds up to 15 samplings of a new flavor to adapt to it. Give it time, and eventually you will be asking for more.
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- "Preparing Garlic to Help Promote Health Benefits." Whfoods.org. George Mateljan Foundation, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodtip&dbid=22
- Schaufelberger, Katherine. "Garlic: An Immunity-Boosting Superstar." WebMD. Ed. Michael W. Smith. WebMD, LLC, 30 July 2007. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/garlic-immunity-boosting-superstar
- Silagy, C., and A. Neil. "Garlic as a Lipid Lowering Agent--a Meta-analysis." Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London 28.1 (1994): 39-45. National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. DOI: 10.1155/2013/125649 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2013/125649