Garlic is a plant in the Allium (onion) family. Its closely related to onions, shallots and leeks. It grows in many parts of the world and is a popular culinary ingredient because of its bold flavor. Throughout history, dating back to Hippocrates, garlic has been used for its medicinal properties. Its use has been well documented by the ancient Greeks, Romans and Chinese for several health-promoting effects.
Modern science has shown the potential for garlic to improve many health outcomes including reductions in certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease and even suggested beneficial effects on age-related cognitive decline. Studies have found garlic supplementation to have a significant impact on reducing blood pressure among those with high blood pressure. Supplemental doses must be high to have these desired effects (i.e., 600-1500 mg per day).
A recent study found that a high dose garlic supplement reduced the average length of cold symptoms by 70%, from 5 days to just 1.5 days, by boosting immune system function.
We know that most of the health effects of garlic are due to the compound Allicin, which is formed when garlic is chopped, crushed or chewed. Allicin is also responsible for the distinct smell of garlic. It’s important to allow chopped or crushed garlic to aerate for about 10 minutes before cooking to ensure maximal production of Allicin.
Garlic is also highly nutritious… just one ounce provides only 42 calories and a significant portion of you daily requirements of manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and selenium.
Garlic and other spices are a flavorful way to help reduce sodium in your prepared dishes! Next time your cooking out or hosting a dinner party, ditch the salt shaker and try incorporating several healthy spices including garlic into your savory dish!
Check out my interview with NBC4 Washington to learn more about the health benefits of garlic (click here)!