You’ve probably noticed the abundance of garlic in my recipes. In fact, the beet salad I just posted did not have garlic, and I felt like I was betraying it. Not only is garlic DELICIOUS but it has a number of health benefits; some you may have heard of, while others maybe not.
Garlic contains sulfur compounds, one being allicin. This is what gives garlic its potent smell and taste. Allicin is incredibly antimicrobial and antiviral, particularly so in the gut. Allicin has been found to work effectively against common bacteria like E. Coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Clostridium*. Here is what is SO amazing though. Generally speaking, the common pharmaceutical antibiotic kills off everything it comes in contact with. By everything, I mean the good AND bad bacteria. Garlic however, doesn’t kill off the good bacteria, just the bad.
Here’s a fun little side note: In World War 1, soldiers used to use crushed garlic on their wounds as an antimicrobial so it didn’t get infected.
Garlic also helps boost the immune system. A study conducted for a 12 week time frame during the winter months showed that those patients consuming garlic had fewer colds vs those taking a placebo. Further, if they did get sick, the cold lasted for a shorter amount of time vs those on the placebo.
Garlic is also anti-fungal. It has been shown to help eliminate Candida, a fungal infection, or overgrowth of yeast in the body. One of the common symptoms of Candida is chronic yeast infections. I’m not going to get into the details here, but this site explains how you can cure a yeast infection with a clove of garlic.
Before using garlic, it’s important to cut it or mince it in a garlic press to maximize its health benefits. The reason for this is that the allicin is only properly formed when it’s chopped. When the clove is whole, allicin has not yet formed, and is separated into alliin and alliinase, which are less useful. In an ideal world, you should let it sit for 5-10 minutes after chopping so the allicin can form. This is especially important if you’re going to heat it, as it’s then more resistant to damage from heat.
It’s interesting to note that the health benefits of garlic are rendered basically useless when cooked at a high heat. Cooking at a low heat for a short amount of time, if chopped in advance, will leave some of the health promoting allicin intact, but a high heat will not.
Lastly, if you’re like me, and eat a lot of garlic, to the point that your coworker makes a comment about it, you can chew a few sprigs of parsley afterwards to help eliminate the garlic breath.
Now you have a little inside information as to why every meal I eat smells like garlic! What are your favourite garlic recipes?