If you’re one of those people who love garlic bread, and a few extra cloves of garlic in your pasta sauce, then you’re in luck. Just about any cure you can think of has, at one time or another, been attributed to garlic.
For hundreds of years, people have been using garlic as a cure for anything from acne to the bubonic plague. Possibly, when it was first discovered, people thought that anything that strong must certainly have some sort of purpose. It was only later that they realized that it tasted good too.
Generally speaking, the stronger the garlic, the better it is for you. It is known to have antioxidants, as well as antibiotic properties, and these seem to increase with the strength as well. Gardeners and nutritionists will tell you that the home grown organic varieties are the most effective.
The two main ingredients that are the most beneficial in garlic are allicin and diallyl sulphides.
Allicin is a medicinal compound that is only derived from the garlic after it has been chopped or crushed. It is known for it’s medicinal, antibiotic effects, but it comes with a warning. Too much crushed garlic ingested may actually damage the intestinal tract.
Diallyl Sulphides survive the cooking process and are effective for heart and blood circulation. They are used to prevent stroke and heart attack and to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Technically, they are not as caustic as allicin.
For thousands of years the garlic clove has been used to fight infection, and even to prevent the common cold.
On top of the two main ingredients and their functions attributed to garlic, they are also a source of vitamins A, B, and C, and selenium, iodine, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium.
When using garlic in cooking, experts advise chopping or crushing the garlic and letting it rest for a few minutes to let the allicin formulate before adding it to the dish.
The only side effects, apart from the fact that eating massive amounts of garlic may damage the intestinal tract, is the fact that it also acts as a blood thinner. It is advised that if you are going to be having surgery, you should refrain from eating garlic for the two weeks prior. There is also some indication that eating garlic while on some blood thinners such as Warfarin may cause problems.
Most people find that eating a clove or two of garlic a day isn’t convenient, so for those who can’t or don’t want to eat garlic daily due to the obvious odor, there are garlic capsules, some of which claim not to have any telltale side effects.
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