Garlic; what an amazing food! Not only does it add flavour to our favourite dishes, but it also plays an important role in the health of our bodies.
Garlic is part of the lily family, and the bulb is the part of the plant that we use most commonly. Researchers are looking into how garlic appears to protect the heart by helping cholesterol levels- many studies are showing that garlic increases HDL cholesterol levels and decreases serum cholesterol levels[i]– and by aiding blood pressure. Garlic contains methyl allyl trisulfide which has been shown to help dilate blood vessels and reduces the risk of blood clots[ii]. Garlic is very well-known as an immune supporter thanks to the sulphur-containing compound allicin. Allicin is activated by crushing or chopping garlic. Allicin has been shown to be an effective infection fighter, against cold and flu, as well as candida (yeast) and parasites, as well as other microbes.
Garlic contains many other valuable nutrients, including vitamin B6, manganese, selenium and vitamin C. B6 plays a role in our nervous system by helping synthesize neurotransmitters, which are how the brain communicates. This vitamin also contributes to the regulation of blood glucose, and plays a role in immune function. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body against free radical damage.
Garlic also aids the digestive system.
Store fresh garlic at room temperature in either a loosely covered container, or an uncovered one, in a cool and dark place; you want to prevent sprouting. Garlic will keep for around 4-8 weeks. Once the garlic bulb has been opened, the garlic cloves will only last for a few days. Buy garlic that is hard and light in color; throw garlic out once it is soft, has darkened, and is beginning to sprout.
Roast a whole garlic bulb by removing the skin and adding it to your roaster while you cook a whole organic chicken or roast.
Chopped, dice, or crush it and add it to soups and stews, puree it and add it to dips and sauces, or take individual cloves and roast it with vegetables.
How do you use Garlic, and do you have any tips?!
[i] Murray, M. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York:Atria, 2005.
[ii] Balch, P. Prescription for Nutritional Healing 3rd ed. New York: Penguin, 2000.