Friday, March 13, 2009

The Goodness of Garlic

I would eat garlic everyday if it wasn't for the fact that I'm a very social person. Once I've enjoyed a meal containing garlic, I become very self conscious, and I immediately begin to regret eating the meal in the first place! But I'm beginning to wonder if the health benefits of garlic outweigh the 'garlic breath' issue. In ancient times, garlic was used to cure all sorts of problems, ranging from flatulence to skin diseases (a good enough reason to start eating garlic if you ask me). But more recent scientific evidence suggests that garlic can lower blood pressure, improve blood cholesterol and may be a powerful anti-carcinogenic.

For years, a work colleague has been recommending that I eat a fresh clove of garlic DAILY ! She begins each day by eating a clove of garlic and swears this is why she hasn't been sick for years. I'm beginning to buy into this 'garlic goodness' mantra of hers ! And so the motivation to write this blog.

First some interesting facts about garlic

  • Garlic (Allium sativum L. ) is a species of the onion family.
  • Because of its distinct odor, garlic is sometimes called the "stinking rose."
  • Over 60% of the garlic consumed worldwide is produced in California.
  • Garlic was worn, hung in windows, or rubbed on chimneys and keyholes, to scare off vampires!


Fresh garlic versus bottled garlic: Is there a difference ?

Once you crush fresh garlic it becomes chemically unstable and allicin (a compound found in the garlic) begins to decompose to create a compound called sulfenic acid. This is the powerful antioxidant delivering the health benefits associated with garlic. The key point to consider is the following: "A study found that only crushed garlic and microwaved crushed garlic was biological activity". Perhaps you're thinking "great, I've got a jar of peeled crushed garlic sitting in my fridge that I frequently use. I'm getting the health benefits of garlic in my diet". You'd be wrong. There is a trade off to the ease and convenience of the bottled garlic - it doesn't contain the active component you find in fresh garlic. Japanese scientists found that garlic stored in water at room temperature lost about half its allicin in 6 days, while garlic stored in vegetable oil lost half of its allicin in less than an hour. So although bottled garlic may have some health benefits, it is clearly inferior to that of fresh garlic.

And what about garlic supplements ?

There is no getting away from it - an odorless variety of fresh garlic does not exist - so for this reason many people prefer to take garlic supplements. However, the amount of allicin in these products is questionable, and it varies greatly between products. If you are taking a garlic supplement, check the label to see if it contains allicin powder.

The bottom line: Incorporate fresh garlic into your diet. Saute green vegetables in lots of fresh crushed garlic with olive oil (so easy with the Magic Bullet!). But remember, allicin starts to degrade immediately after it is produced (i.e. once you crush the garlic), so make sure to crush just before cooking. And inform your friends and family that you're on a new garlic kick !

And keep in mind this proverb, "A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat".

2 comments:

  1. Nutriway/Nutrilite Garlic Heart Care Formula contains 3,000 mg of allicin yield per tablet. Is that good?

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  2. Garlic is a wonderful ingredient and I am saying this because I have used this to cure acne. I know this is not in your preference list when it comes to consuming. Health benefits of raw garlic are numerous like it will help you to control your cholesterol levels, prevent blood clotting and it has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. So if you are also suffering from any of these problems or any other problem, you can eat raw garlic. Try to consult with your doctor before you start eating this. For more details you can visit this site .

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