Garlic – More likely to help you ward off Vampires or fight heart disease?
By: Ashley Vangel
I love ‘em. You love ‘em. We all love ‘em. We’re talking
We’ve all heard about how garlic can help to fend off vampires and cause bad breath… it has had many spiritual, religious, and folklore uses in it’s past. But have you ever heard about how good garlic is for your health?
Garlic has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers, as well as cardiovascular disease, or heart disease. The key components in garlic that give it these wonderful characteristics are the antioxidants and sulfur compounds. Sulfur compounds are also found in some of garlic’s cousins, like scallions, onions, and leeks. The strongest link between garlic and reducing cancer is in the upper digestive system and stomach cancer (or gastric cancer).
Garlic is also linked with decreased cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis. Studies show that when garlic intake increases, so does the flexibility of our blood vessels. This means there’s more room for our blood to flow, and less of a risk for building up blood pressure. Plus, eating more garlic helps to reduce the risk of blood vessel damage caused by excessive inflammation when consumed on a regular basis. In general, these studies show that about 20 grams of garlic eaten around one to three times per week is needed to provide us with these wonderful health benefits. In case you’re wondering, 20 grams is about 6 cloves of garlic.
How many types of garlic do you know? Did you know there’s several kinds of garlic. There’s “wild garlic”, “crow garlic”, and “field garlic”. There’s also elephant garlic… which is actually not really garlic at all. It’s more so related to leeks, but forms a bulb consisting of very large, garlic-like cloves. Though the cloves themselves are big, the flavor isn’t quite as bit. It’s a much more mild flavor, making it great for using raw in salad dressings, salads, and pesto. Have you heard of black garlic? This doesn’t occur naturally in nature, but it’s definitely a type of garlic worth trying. It’s actually a garlic that’s been caramelized and browned, used a lot in Asian and fine-dining new American cuisine. To make black garlic, whole garlic bulbs are heated over the course of several weeks, which results in black garlic cloves that taste sweet with hints of balsamic vinegar.
I put garlic in almost everything… pesto, salad dressing, curry, stir fries, roasted veggies, marinades… you name the food, I can almost guarantee garlic will make it ten times better! When it comes to following recipes, I usually add a few more cloves of garlic than the recipe calls for. In my opinion, the more garlic, the better!
What’s your favorite “garlic-y“ recipe? Leave a comment in the section below to share!
Ashley is a registered dietitian and a licensed dietitian in the state of Texas. She graduated from Framingham State University, majoring in nutrition and dietetics and she completed her dietetic internship at the University of Connecticut. (more)