The Health Benefits of Garlic

Garlic is particularly interesting because it is used in virtually all cuisines worldwide.  In some form or fashion, it makes its way into a variety dishes, often unnoticed visually but distinct in taste.


Personally, I find it absolutely delicious and useful in almost any cooking situation. But as ubiquitous as garlic is, do you know about it amazing health benefits?


Garlic contains two substances, known as allicin and alliin.  Both of these are sulfur-containing compounds that have anti-biotic properties.


In addition to this, other studies have shown garlic has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-yeast properties as well.


To get the most of these effects, its best to consume your garlic raw.


Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “raw garlic is gross, how can someone eat that?!”  Well, there’s a few ways you can do this fairly easily.


First off, you can add fresh garlic to dressings and marinades.  Simply chopping up a clove or two into your homemade salad dressing is an easy way to add garlic to what you are eating.


In a similar fashion, you can blend garlic up with other ingredients when you prepare your favorite sauces or marinades.


Removing the skin from garlic can sometimes be tricky.  One easy trick is to blanch the garlic in hot water for 30 seconds, then drain and let cool.  You can then slice of the end with the root, and the skin will come off.


If you are trying to get the covering off each individual clove, you can use the flat side of a knife and mash each clove slightly, the skin will come off easily.


Garlic can be chopped, mashed (to release its oils), or minced.  When you chop garlic, it releases enzymes that convert the sulfur-containing compounds to diallyl disulfide, ammonia, and pyruvic acid.


If you were to cook garlic, the diallyl disulfide is destroyed, giving cooked garlic a much milder taste.


Some studies suggest garlic can be protective against certain forms of cancer.


Alliin and allicin are thought to prevent the formation of carcinogens in the body or by blocking carcinogens from reaching sensitive areas of the body.


Another proposed mechanism is that these two substances inhibit the transformation of healthy cells into cancerous cells.


Garlic has also shown the ability to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, while raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.


LDL particles cholesterol bring fats into your arteries to transport for storage in the body, while HDL particles ship them out.


One year-long study on aged garlic (or garlic that has been fermented) showed it can reduce plaque buildup in arteries and also lower levels of homocysteine, which, according to the American Heart Association, is an independent risk factor for heart disease.


Garlic is great-tasting and provides a plethora of health benefits for a variety of different people.  It can be especially for helpful for those with heart problems or people who have trouble losing weight.


Why not try it for yourself and add it to your home cooking?



Though based in research, personal, and clinical experience, the opinions in this article should not be taken as medical advice. Botanical medicine and nutraceuticals should be treated with the same caution and care as pharmaceuticals, as both have the potential for strong, potentially adverse effects and allergic reactions. Please consult a trained, licensed health care practitioner before proceeding.