Grown and used for thousands of years, garlic is in the allium family, along with onions, chives and leeks. Known as the ‘stinking rose,’ garlic gets its aroma from its sulfur-containing compounds. These are also in part why garlic so good for you.
To get the full advantages of garlic, it should be eaten fresh and raw. Many people can’t tolerate the taste of raw garlic; using it lightly cooked is better than not using it at all. There are, of course, powder, flake, paste and pill form, all of which have less to offer than fresh and raw. Just a note, if eating raw garlic, don’t overdo it, as it can cause stomach upset.
Choose firm, mostly dry bulbs when purchasing. After cutting or crushing garlic, letting it sit for 15 to 20 minutes before use it will stimulate enzymes and increase compounds, making it even more beneficial. Avoid cooking garlic over high heat nor for too long. The longer it’s cooked the more its health benefits are lost. Best to add it to the pan when the food is almost done or, if you can get past “garlic breath,” add it raw when you’ve completely finished cooking. By the way, chewing on fresh parsley or mint leaves can counteract the aftertaste of garlic.
Vitamins, minerals & antioxidants
Garlic contains high levels of manganese, calcium, vitamin B1, B6 and C, phosphorous, copper, potassium, selenium and tryptophan. With all this going for it, garlic boosts the immune system.
Garlic has been called a natural antibiotic (though it’s not a substitute for them, when they are necessary to fight serious infections). It fights against bacteria and viruses associated with colds and flu. It may also be helpful in alleviating candida yeast conditions. There are many home remedies involving garlic, for various ailments including toothaches, coughs, earache, warts, congestion, and skin infections.
Garlic triggers the liver to release toxins from the body, while at the same time protecting the liver from harm. Garlic is great for clearing out and maintaining healthy lungs and stomach.
Garlic improves heart health in many ways. It thins the blood to diminish and protect against clots, allows iron to flow better through the body and opens up vessels. It protects the vessel walls as well. Studies have shown that it may help lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. In addition, it protects against free radicals and acts as an anti-inflammatory for the heart, in addition to helping to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Chemical compounds in garlic are thought to assist in reducing inflammation associated with various forms of arthritis.