25 Jul Garlic: A Nutritional Superstar
For thousands of years throughout ancient and modern history, garlic has been used
for its medicinal properties.
In addition to being a helpful side therapy for people being treated for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, research shows that raw garlic has antiviral and antifungal properties that provide an immune system boost to help protect against viral infections. Garlic’s significant antibacterial properties act as a “natural antibiotic” helping to protect against certain infections, particularly strains that have grown resistant to prescription antibiotics.
Garlic also functions as a prebiotic food for beneficial bacteria in the gut tied to immunity and positive mood. A single clove of garlic contains many nutrients that promote healing, boost the immune system and prevent infection. These compounds include manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium, iron, copper, potassium and allicin. Allicin is the predominant healthy sulfur compound in garlic that helps to inhibit viruses, bacteria and yeasts. It is also responsible for garlic’s signature odor.
HOW TO GET THE MOST BENEFIT FROM GARLIC
Keep it fresh.
Experts state that the best way to consume garlic is from the fresh clove. Look for plump bulbs with tight skin that isn’t frayed, loose, dried out, or moldy. Sprouting, too, is a sign of age. The fresher the garlic, the higher the concentration of its active ingredients. Though garlic can keep for months, it’s best when eaten within a week. Garlic’s efficacy lessens as it ages.
Store it right.
Keep garlic in a cool, dark place with good ventilation to prevent it from getting moldy and/or sprouting.
Chop it up.
Chopping, slicing, mincing or crushing garlic triggers an enzyme reaction that increases its healthful compounds. Heat prevents this reaction, so let garlic sit on the cutting board for at least 10 minutes before cooking.
Calm it down.
The smell of garlic can stay on your breath and be excreted by the lungs for 1-2 days after you eat it. Munching on raw mint leaves, fresh parsley, apples or lettuce after a garlicky meal can help to neutralize the compounds in garlic responsible for its distinct scent.