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Monday 19 October 2015

Garlic and it's Health Benefits

Some love it, others hate it. As Jo Lewin Says " A tasty superfood or smelly spice? Get the full story on this common ingredient ...

An introduction to garlic...

Highly valued throughout the ages as a culinary spice, garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. It is a hardy perennial belonging to the liliaceae family. Other members of this family include leeks, chives, spring onions and shallots, all distinguished by their pungent aroma and flavour.

Its usage predates written history; Sanskrit records document the use of garlic remedies approximately 5000 years ago. Legend suggests that Egyptian pharaohs prized garlic very highly and slaves building the pyramids were given a daily ration to keep them fit and strong. Throughout history, garlic has been regarded as a well-trusted remedy: during epidemics such as cholera and tuberculosis and in World War 1 where it was used as an antiseptic applied to wounds to cleanse and heal and to treat dysentery caused by the poor sanitary conditions in the trenches.

...The legend of the vampire

Throughout time, superstition has credited garlic with the ability to avert disease and evil spirits. Stories, verse and folklore claim garlic has the ability to ward off vampires. If worn around the neck or placed at the window, the plant's pungent flowers are believed to provide protection and keep vampires from entering.

Nutritional highlights:

The garlic bulb is the most commonly used portion of the plant, composed of 8-20 individual, teardrop shaped cloves enclosed in a white parchment-like skin. It is an excellent source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). It is also a very good source of manganese, selenium and vitamin C. In addition, garlic is a good source of other minerals, including phosphorous, calcium, potassium, iron and copper.

Many of the perceived therapeutic effects of garlic are thought to be due to its active ingredient allicin. This sulphur-containing compound gives garlic its distinctive pungent smell and taste. Luckily for us foodies, the action of chopping or crushing garlic supposedly stimulates the production of allicin, however it is thought that cooking garlic inhibits the formation of some of the perceived medicinal properties.


...If you love eating raw garlic but hate the lingering aftertaste, try chewing parsley as it works very well as a breath freshener.


Modern research has focused on garlic's potential to reduce the risk of heart disease, cholesterol levels and cancer. Several studies suggest that garlic makes platelets (the cells involved in blood clotting) less likely to clump together and stick to artery walls, therefore acting as an anticoagulant and so reducing the risk of heart attacks. The sulphurous compounds have also been studied for their ability to inhibit cancerous cells and block tumours by slowing DNA replication. The ability of these compounds to depress tumour cell proliferation is still being studied extensively.

Garlic may also lower blood pressure slightly, mainly through its ability to widen blood vessels.

Garlic has a long history of use as an infection fighter - against viruses, bacteria and fungi. It has been referred to as 'Russian penicillin' to denote its antibacterial properties. Some skin conditions such as warts and insect bites may respond to garlic oil, or a crushed raw garlic clove.

How to select and store:

For the best flavour and maximum health benefits, buy fresh garlic. Do not buy garlic that is soft, shows evidence of decay or is beginning to sprout. Garlic in flake, powder or paste form is convenient, but it is not as good as fresh garlic. It is best stored at room temperature in an uncovered container in a cool, dark place away from exposure to heat and sunlight. Storing it in this manner will help prevent sprouting. Depending on its age and variety, a whole garlic bulb will keep fresh from 2 weeks to 2 months


Once you break the head of garlic, it greatly reduces its shelf life to just a few days.


Garlic poses little safety issues and allergies are rare. If you are using the herb for cholesterol, have your levels checked after three months. The recommended daily amount of garlic ranges from half - one full clove per day (around 3000-6000mcg of allicin). Please note that some people may experience indigestion, intestinal gas and diarrhoea when taking high doses of garlic.

All of Jo's words and article can be seen here

How about trying this recipe idea, it's very popular, uses a little garlic and tastes great

Chicken Wings Provençal

Provencal chicken wings

recipe details are here

All the best Jan


Jo said...

I do enjoy garlic but it's something I hardly ever cook with. My dad hates it, he won't come in the house if there's a hint of it.

Things and Thoughts said...

Garlic constitutes an integral part of Greek cuisine and culture. Unfortunately we can't abuse it because of its smell. But we love it!
Thanks for sharing Jan!

Roses and Lilacs said...

An interesting topic. I used to belong to a garden club and the members were fanatic about garlic. Not just garlic but certain varieties of specially cross bred garlic. According to them, most store bought garlic wasn't fit to eat. You have to raise it and pick it from your own garden. I've always meant to try finding a source for special varieties but never remembered. I don't use much garlic but probably just need to get into the habit (my Irish mother never used garlic).

Launna said...

I love garlic and I could eat it in most food dishes... my youngest is not as fond... I like to roast it an it that way too... I like all the benefits it seems to offer :)

Martha said...

I love garlic in foods. Not too much though; just enough to give it some extra flavour.

Lowcarb team member said...

Yes, I can relate to what you say here my dear dad (he's 90yr) does not appreciate garlic, or anything with too much herb / spice ... I think the slightly younger generation are more willing to experiment with different flavours.
Of course seeing that garlic and a lot of herbs / spices and been around and available for many, many, many years it does seem odd somehow!
... again it all comes down to personal preference.

Hope your week has started well.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

It's the two 'G's' ... Greece and Garlic, just go together!
I think garlic can provide such an amazing extra taste - but never over use it!

Hope all is well with you.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

I've never grown garlic so very interested to read your comments here.
But of course home grown vegetables of all types and varieties, including herbs, always have that extra special taste.

I often add a little garlic to some of my recipes.

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Yes, not everyone does like garlic ... one of our sons is not too keen on garlic.

But for those who do enjoy it Roasted garlic is quite popular and Elise at Simply Recipes has a very nice recipe idea which can be found here

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

... yes just a little garlic can make such a difference in many recipe ideas.

Hope your week has started well

All the best Jan