There is no denying that garlic is bursting with medicinal benefits as long as it’s consumed crushed and raw…
What’s the big deal about garlic, you may ask? Other than the fact that it has been recognized for its medicinal properties since 3000 BC, it’s a really healthy food – bursting with just the right nutrients and plenty of anti-oxidants. Garlic is superbly nutritious, with barely any calories and high quantities of manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium and decent amounts of fiber, calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B1, as well as trace amounts of many other vitamins and minerals. Adding it to your cooking will up the flavor of the food, and also give you all its nutritive benefits, big and small.
Garlic as medicine
Garlic in its cooked form does you no medicinal good; you get the best of garlic’s curative and preventive properties only when you eat it raw and crushed. Crushing or bruising raw garlic releases sulfuric compounds such as allicin and other derivatives – which is where all the restorative and medicinal properties of garlic lie. Once cooked, this compound is destroyed, so garlic loses many of its healthful properties, be it in your pasta or on your bread. Here’s what consuming raw and crushed garlic can do for you…
- Garlic boosts the immune system: If you are prone to having colds and respiratory infections then garlic can aid your immune system since it boosts a body’s natural antibody response and healthy microbial activity, thereby helping your body fight off infections better. Garlic is also an excellent antibiotic, so if you are suffering from repetitive throat and gut infections, it will help you get better faster and aid your body in staving off infections in the first place.
- Garlic is a great antioxidant: We need oxygen to survive and yet conversely, it’s oxygen that ages us in the first place. To increase the longevity of our body and mind, we need to consume anti-oxidants, which tie up the free radicals (that oxygen leaves in our bodies) and thereby reduces the harm these ‘free’ molecules can cause. Garlic aids in the longevity and youthfulness of the body as well as of the mind since it has excellent anti-oxidant properties. Studies have also shown garlic to be helpful with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, by slowing down the breakdown of cells on the whole.
- Garlic is your heart’s best friend: Garlic is great for the heart and blood pressure as it lowers bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels but leaves good cholesterol untouched. Another way that garlic helps circulation is by aiding blood and blood vessels in combating oxidation stress. Since allicin and its derivatives are excellent antioxidants, garlic reduces inflammation and also helps in dilating the arteries and veins, thereby preventing them from getting clogged up and reducing the blood pressure. Another thing about garlic is that it helps the body absorb iron better and thus can be used to combat anemia. Consequentially, garlic is a natural performance enhancer because optimum heart and blood functions leads to superior athletic performance.
- Garlic has anti-cancer properties: The anti-oxidant benefits mentioned above also make garlic an excellent and high-performing anti-cancer aid. Studies have shown that garlic helps individual body cells realize when they begin to go astray in terms of growth and multiplication, which is what cancers and tumors are: rapid and unstoppable cell growths in the body. Garlic affects these cancerous cells by making them aware of their mutation. These cells then basically stop their life cycle and start recycling their molecules – thereby helping the body in healing itself.
- Other benefits of garlic: While the main benefits of garlic have been mentioned above, there have been sporadic studies and tests that show garlic to be somewhat promising in anti-diabetic activity. Garlic is also said to reduce heavy metal toxicity from your body (a boon for fish eaters) as well as helping in reducing bone loss by increasing estrogen levels in women (a must for post-menopausal women). Another recent development points out that garlic alleviates liver problems caused by alcohol consumption – even moderate drinkers can increase liver function by adding raw garlic to their diet as it detoxifies the liver from alcoholic stress.
The best way to eat garlic
While it may sound difficult to consume garlic raw, one of the easiest ways to do so is to chop up a few cloves roughly, bruise them just a bit to release the juices and then swallow them in a spoonful; washing it all down with a shake or a smoothie to ease the sharpness of the taste.
You can also help increase the medicinal properties of garlic in your food. To do so, first remember to crush the garlic instead of just adding it whole. Then, add the garlic at the very end of your cooking, just 3-5 minutes before you put the burner out. This will retain more of garlic’s medicinal properties and also prevent the garlic from turning bitter.
Remember that garlic is no substitute for your doctor or your prescriptions – but it can definitely be an aid that helps you realize the dream of a life that’s healthier, fitter and longer.