Garlic: Improving Your Quality of Life As Well As Your Spaghetti Sauce
Posted by Kate W on Thursday, June 14th, 2012
Much like celery, garlic is something we often think of in the context of cooking rather than in the context of a nutritional supplement. But while garlic is used in some of my very favorite dishes from spaghetti sauce to shrimp scampi, I am often even more impressed by its benefits than its taste.
The compound that gives garlic its strong and distinctive taste is also the compound that contributes to its therapeutic effects. Allicin, a sulphur-bearing compound is released from garlic when the cloves are crushed or cut. Thus, you should let garlic sit for a few minutes after crushing it in order to enjoy maximum nutritional benefits. This act also releases a powerful flavor and aroma. Allicin exhibits both antibacterial and anti-fungal properties which contribute to its longstanding use as a medicinal remedy.
Extracts from garlic can fight a variety of bacteria including two of the most common disease-causing organisms in humans: staphylococcus and streptococcus. Garlic is also useful in fighting heliobacter pylori (the infection behind gastric ulcers) as well as fungal infections.
Garlic has more benefits beyond its antibacterial properties. For one, it is a powerful antioxidant, which we know is integral in helping your body fight off free radicals. There is good scientific evidence that garlic can help improve your cholesterol by lowering low-density lipoproteins (LDL), which are the type of cholesterol that builds up in arterial passages over time and cause severe cardiovascular issues. Further, much like Vitamin C, garlic supplements taken over time can help your body build up immunity and fight off colds.
Some advocates for garlic even believe long-term garlic consumption can prevent certain types of cancer. While there is no definitive evidence supporting this, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports that some studies show a correlation between regular garlic consumption and reduced risk of colon and stomach cancers.
I love garlic; I went through nearly a half a bulb last week experimenting with a fried rice recipe that was so good, we had it for dinner three times last week. But even at that amount I may not be getting the full nutritional benefits, so I’m taking an additional garlic supplement. I’ll still eat it whenever I can, but the supplement will at least make my breath a little less aromatic on date night with my husband.
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