Posts Tagged With: nutrition

L is for Lentils – (Make Room for Legumes!)

lentilsIt may come as no surprise to you that legumes such as beans, peas and soybeans are a great addition to a lean diet for their fiber content and affordability.  But have you considered legumes as sources for appetite control and protection from heart disease and some cancers?  Legumes are a source of important vitamins and minerals and, according to “The Doctor’s Book of Food Remedies,” legumes provide B vitamins which keep your nervous system healthy; folic acid- credited with preventing birth defects; iron for a healthy circulatory system, and calcium for strong bone health. Legumes are full of both protein and fiber; these vegetable-based proteins are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than animal based protein.  The long list of foods that qualify as legumes boasts a few pleasant surprises; consider that the humble peanut is actually a legume and is so much more than a ballpark snack, thanks to its many health benefits.

Admittedly, while I’m a fan of most legumes, I tend to go ‘mental for lentils!’  Lentils are readily available,  and relatively easy to prepare.  A favorite summer meal is a lentil salad, chock full of greens that is as satisfying as it is healthy (see recipe at end of post).  Cooked lentils also serve as a great “bed” for most sauces, chicken, fish, and even the occasional meatball (for those of us who are trying to avoid breads and pasta).

Have a gander at the specs listed below provided by The World’s Healthiest Foods online.  And then, consider joining me in going “mental for lentils!”

Health Benefits

Lentils, a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. But this is far from all lentils have to offer. Lentils also provide good to excellent amounts of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein—all with virtually no fat. The calorie cost of all this nutrition? Just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils. This tiny nutritional giant fills you up—not out.

Lentils, like other beans, are rich in dietary fiber, both the soluble and insoluble type. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that snares bile (which contains cholesterol)and ferries it out of the body. Research studies have shown that insoluble fiber not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.

In a study that examined food intake patterns and risk of death from coronary heart disease, researchers followed more than 16,000 middle-aged men in the U.S., Finland, The Netherlands, Italy, former Yugoslavia, Greece and Japan for 25 years. Typical food patterns were: higher consumption of dairy products in Northern Europe; higher consumption of meat in the U.S.; higher consumption of vegetables, legumes, fish, and wine in Southern Europe; and higher consumption of cereals, soy products, and fish in Japan. When researchers analyzed this data in relation to the risk of death from heart disease, they found that legumes were associated with a whopping 82% reduction in risk!!

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as lentils, helps prevent heart disease. Almost 10,000 American adults participated in this study and were followed for 19 years. People eating the most fiber, 21 grams per day, had 12% less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11% less cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those eating the least, 5 grams daily. Those eating the most water-soluble dietary fiber fared even better with a 15% reduction in risk of CHD and a 10% risk reduction in CVD.

Lentils’ contribution to heart health lies not just in their fiber, but in the significant amounts of folate and magnesium these little wonders supply. Folate helps lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is an intermediate product in an important metabolic process called the methylation cycle. When folate (as well as vitamin B6) are around, homocysteine is immediately converted into cysteine or methionine, both of which are benign. When these B vitamins are not available, levels of homocysteine increase in the bloodstream—a bad idea since homocysteine damages artery walls and is considered a serious risk factor for heart disease.

Lentils’ magnesium puts yet another plus in the column of its beneficial cardiovascular effects. Magnesium is Nature’s own calcium channel blocker. When enough magnesium is around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax, which lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Studies show that a deficiency of magnesium is not only associated with heart attack but that immediately following a heart attack, lack of sufficient magnesium promotes free radical injury to the heart. Want to literally keep your heart happy? Eat lentils.

Lentils Give You Energy to Burn While Stabilizing Blood Sugar

In addition to its beneficial effects on the digestive system and the heart, soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels. If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, legumes like lentils can really help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. Studies of high fiber diets and blood sugar levels have shown the dramatic benefits provided by these high fiber foods. Researchers compared two groups of people with type 2 diabetes who were fed different amounts of high fiber foods. One group ate the standard American Diabetic diet, which contains with 24 grams of fiber/day, while the other group ate a diet containing 50 grams of fiber/day. Those who ate the diet higher in fiber had lower levels of both plasma glucose (blood sugar) and insulin (the hormone that helps blood sugar get into cells). The high fiber group also reduced their total cholesterol by nearly 7%, their triglyceride levels by 10.2% and their VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein—the most dangerous form of cholesterol)levels by 12.5%.

In addition to providing slow burning complex carbohydrates, lentils can increase your energy by replenishing your iron stores. Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, boosting iron stores with lentils is a good idea—especially because, unlike red meat, another source of iron, lentils are not rich in fat and calories. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism. And remember: If you’re pregnant or lactating, your needs for iron increase. Growing children and adolescents also have increased needs for iron.

History

Lentils are believed to have originated in central Asia, having been consumed since prehistoric times. They are one of the first foods to have ever been cultivated. Lentil seeds dating back 8000 years have been found at archeological sites in the Middle East. Lentils were mentioned in the Bible both as the item that Jacob traded to Esau for his birthright and as a part of a bread that was made during the Babylonian captivity of the Jewish people.

For millennia, lentils have been traditionally been eaten with barley and wheat, three foodstuffs that originated in the same regions and spread throughout Africa and Europe during similar migrations and explorations of cultural tribes. Before the 1st century AD, they were introduced into India, a country whose traditional cuisine still bestows high regard for the spiced lentil dish known as dal. In many Catholic countries, lentils have long been used as a staple food during Lent. Currently, the leading commercial producers of lentils include India, Turkey, Canada, China and Syria.

How to Select and Store

Lentils are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the lentils are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness. Whether purchasing lentils in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that the lentils are whole and not cracked.

Store lentils in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place. Stored this way, they will keep for up to 12 months. If you purchase lentils at different times, store them separately since they may feature varying stages of dryness and therefore will require different cooking times. Cooked lentils will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days if placed in a covered container.

Tips for Preparing Lentils                                                                

Lentils can be prepared the day of serving since they do not need to be presoaked. Before washing lentils you should spread them out on a light colored plate or cooking surface to check for, and remove, small stones or debris. After this process, place the lentils in a strainer, and rinse them thoroughly under cool running water.

The Healthiest Way of Cooking Lentils

To boil lentils, use three cups of liquid for each cup of lentils. Lentils placed in already boiling water will be easier to digest than those that were brought to a boil with the water. When the water returns to a boil, turn down the heat to simmer and cover. Green lentils usually take 30 minutes, while red ones require 20 minutes.

These cooking times can be slightly adjusted depending upon the final use. If you are going to be serving lentils in a salad or soup and desire a firmer texture, remove them from the stove top when they have achieved this consistency—typically 5-10 minutes earlier than their usual cooking time. If you are making dal or some preparation that requires a mushier consistency, achieving this texture may take an additional 10-15 minutes.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn’t contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. To read this chart accurately, you’ll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food’s nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling.”

Lentils1.00 cup   cooked198.00 grams229.68   calories

Nutrient

Amount

DV

(%)

Nutrient

Density

World’s   Healthiest

Foods   Rating

molybdenum

148.50   mcg

198.0

15.5

excellent

folate

358.38   mcg

89.6

7.0

excellent

fiber

15.64   g

62.6

4.9

very   good

tryptophan

0.16   g

50.0

3.9

very   good

manganese

0.98   mg

49.0

3.8

very   good

iron

6.59   mg

36.6

2.9

good

protein

17.86   g

35.7

2.8

good

phosphorus

356.40   mg

35.6

2.8

good

copper

0.50   mg

25.0

2.0

good

vitamin B1

0.33   mg

22.0

1.7

good

potassium

730.62   mg

20.9

1.6

good

World’s   Healthiest

Foods   Rating

Rule

excellent

DV>=75%   OR

Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%

very   good

DV>=50%   OR

Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%

good

DV>=25%   OR

Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

Michelle’s favorite go-to recipe for Lentil Salad:

Recipe courtesy of The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

SERVINGS
 – 4

INGREDIENTS
 – 1 cup lentils (French green lentils or black Beluga lentils are the best varieties to use for lentil salads because they have lots of flavor and they hold their shape when cooked.)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt
Fresh-ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions or
3 tablespoons finely diced shallot
3 tablespoons chopped parsley

PREPARATION

1. Sort and rinse the lentils. Cover with water by 3 inches and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook until tender all the way through (adding more water if necessary), about 30 minutes. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

2. Toss the lentils with the red wine vinegar, salt, and fresh-ground black pepper. Let sit for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt and vinegar if needed.

3. Add the extra-virgin olive oil, scallions or shallot, and parsley. Stir to combine. If the lentils seem dry and are hard to stir, loosen them with a bit of the reserved cooking liquid.

VARIATIONS 
Add 1/2 cup diced cucumber.

  • Dice very fine 1/4 cup each of carrot, celery, and onion. Cook until tender in a couple spoonfuls of olive oil.
  • Cool and stir into the salad in place of the scallions or shallots.
  • Garnish with 1/2 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese.
  • Toast and crush 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds and add to the salad. Substitute cilantro for the parsley.
  • Dice 1/4 cup flavorful sweet peppers, season with salt, and let stand to soften. Stir in with the scallions or shallots.

Written By: Michelle Frati, SJC Staff Member

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Wellness Throughout Long Island

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H is for Herbs

Purple BasilHey, Herb.

When we think of herbs, we often think of garnish on a plate or atop our favorite culinary delights but herbs have countless other applications that offer incredible health benefits.  So, before you push that parsley to the side, chew on this:

Healthdiaries.com reports that parsley, even in small doses, can be credited with the following:

Studies show that myristicin, an organic compound found in the essential oil of parsley, not only inhibits tumor formation (especially in the lungs), but also activates the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase, which helps the molecule glutathione attach to, and fight against, oxidized molecules. Myristicin can also neutralize carcinogens like benzopyrene in cigarette smoke that can pass through the body, consequently fighting against colon and prostate cancer.  Parsley is rich with an antioxidant arsenal that includes luteolin, a flavonoid that searches out and eradicates free radicals in the body that cause oxidative stress in cells. Luteolin also promotes carbohydrate metabolism and serves the body as an anti-inflammatory agent. Furthermore, two tablespoons of parsley contain 16% of the RDA of vitamin C and over 12% of the RDA of vitamin A – two powerful antioxidants.  Along with luteolin, the vitamin C found in parsley serves as an effective anti-inflammatory agent within the body.  When consumed regularly, they combat the onset of inflammatory disorders, such as osteoarthritis (the degeneration of joint cartilage and the underlying bone) and rheumatoid arthritis (a disease causing inflammation in the joints).    The vitamin C and vitamin A found in parsley serve to strengthen the body’s immune system, though in different ways. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen, the main structural protein found in connective tissue. This essential nutrient will not only accelerate the body’s ability to repair wounds, but also maintain healthy bones and teeth.  Homocysteine, an amino acid that occurs in the body, threatens the body’s blood vessels when its levels become too high. Luckily, the folate (or vitamin B9) found in parsley helps convert homocysteine into harmless molecules. A regular garnish of parsley can help ward off cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis.   Two tablespoons of parsley have a whopping 153% of the RDA of vitamin K, which is necessary for the synthesis of osteocalcin, a protein that strengthens the composition of our bones. Vitamin K also prevents calcium build-up in our tissue that can lead to atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke. 

And, my friends… that’s just parsley!

Herbs contain anti-oxidants, essential oils, vitamins, phyto-sterols and many other beneficial nutrients that aid our immune system by combatting germs and toxins.  Herbs are, in fact, medicines in smaller dosages.*

Herbs are a great addition to foods and beverages and ideally, should find their place in your daily meal planning.  They not only impart flavor but offer some protection to the foods they enhance due to their anti-microbial properties.   In addition to culinary applications, healing herbs can be used in various forms such as teas, tisane, bath, pills, tinctures, infusions, extracts, poultices, ointments, oils, compresses, salves and creams.  The possibilities for incorporating herbs into your wellness plan are limitless.  So, whether you’re considering planting your own herbal paradise or simply relishing the relish, do yourself (and your date) a favor, and eat that parsley!

Below is a comprehensive list of commonly used herbs and their healing properties:*

*As with any changes to diet, please consult your physician before implementing any herbal therapy into your wellness initiative.  A small quantity of herbs may potentially produce significant side effects and therefore must be used with caution.

  • ALFALFA- Health builder, arthritis, fatigue, appetite, pituitary gland
  • BARLEY JUICE – Energy, super nutrition, increases S.0. D. to fight aging & rheumatism
  • BEE POLLEN – Allergies, quick energy, nature’s most perfect food, natural no-doze
  • BILBERRY – Strengthens capillaries, night blindness, antioxidant, improves vision
  • BLACK COHOSH – Estrogenic effects, hot flashes, nerves, pain
  • BLACK WALNUT – Cleanses parasites, anti-fungal, skin rashes, eliminates toxins
  • BLESSED THISTLE – Takes oxygen to brain, digestion, increases mother’s milk
  • BURDOCK – Reduces swelling and deposits in joints, blood cleanser, gout, eczema
  • BUTCHER’S BROOM – Improves circulation, phlebitis, leg cramps, varicose veins
  • CAPSICUM- Circulation, strokes, blood pressure equalizer, colds
  • CASCARA SAGRADA -Constipation, increases peristaltic action, gall bladder
  • CATNIP- Colic, nerves, colds, flu, digestion (nature’s alka seltzer), gas, hiccups
  • CHAMOMILE – Insomnia, improves appetite, nerves, calming, drug withdrawal
  • CHARCOAL – Antidote for poison, intestinal gas, hangover; insect bites and stings
  • CHICKWEED- Appetite depressant, burns fat, fatty tumors
  • CORNSILK- Kidney, bladder, bedwetting, painful urination, prostate
  • DAMIANA- Hormone balance, infertility, frigidity and impotence, balance energy
  • DANDELION- Anemia, liver, blood cleanser, age spots, hepatitis
  • DONG QUAI- Hot flashes, hormone balance, nerves, brain nourisher
  • ECHINACEA  – Natural antibiotic, lymph system, blood purifier/builder, immune system
  • EYEBRIGHT- Improve vision, eye strain, cataracts, allergies, styes
  • FEVERFEW – Migraine headaches, muscular tension, intestinal worms
  • GARLIC – Normalizes blood pressure, yeast and bacterial infections, colds, cell rebuilder
  • GINGER – Digestion, gas, diarrhea, motion and morning sickness, flu
  • GINSENG – Energy, stress, endurance, depression, impotency/stimulant
  • GOLDEN SEAL – Infection, natural insulin, cleanses urinary system
  • GOTU KOLA – Brain food, memory, learning disabilities, vitality, senility, “feel good”
  • GUGGUL LIPID – Circulatory system, lower cholesterol
  • HAWTHORN BERRIES – Strengthen heart, hardening of the arteries, adrenals, blood pressure
  • HOPS – Insomnia, nervousness, decrease desire for alcohol, hyperactivity
  • HORSETAIL-Helps stop hair from falling out, stops split ends, nails, tumors
  • HYDRANGEA – Arthritis, gout, kidney and bladder problems, dissolves stones
  • JUNIPER BERRIES – Restores pancreas and adrenals, diuretic, dropsy, uric acid
  • KELP – Thyroid, fingernails, goiter; helps take fat off hips, complexion
  • LICORICE – Adjusts blood sugar; hypoglycemia, quick energy, hoarseness, adrenals
  • LOBELIA – Asthma, congestion, pneumonia, strong relaxant, pleurisy, cough
  • MARSHMALLOW – Bladder and kidney problems, bedwetting, inflammation
  • MULLEIN – Nervous cough, lung and sinus congestion, TB, lymphatic congestion
  • PARSLEY- Combats bad breath, blood building, high in potassium, kidneys, diuretic
  • PASSION FLOWER – Relaxing, helps nervousness, insomnia, headaches
  • PAU D’ARCO – Historically used for cancer; leukemia, tumors, yeast infection
  • PSYLLIUM HULLS – Scrubs colon, best fiber; diverticulitis, colon blockage
  • RED CLOVER – Cancer; tumors, skin problems, relaxes nerves, spasms
  • RED RASPBERRY – The pregnancy herb, nausea, diarrhea, gastritis, cramps
  • ROSE HIPS – Natural vitamin C-complex, colds, infections, blood purifier, flu
  • SAFFLOWERS – Gout, hydrochloric acid for digestion, reduces cholesterol
  • SAGE – Stimulates hair growth, improves memory, sore gums and throat, nerves
  • SARSAPARILLA – Testosterone, body building, impotency, hair growth
  • SAW PALMETTO – Prostate, breast builder (small or saggy), colds, clears mucus, glands
  • SLIPPERY ELM – Diarrhea, acid stomach, digestion, diaper rash, hiatal hernia, ulcers
  • SPIRULINA – High source of protein, energy, weight loss, blood builder
  • ST. JOHN’S WORT, Concentrate – Anti-depressant, stress, relaxant
  • UVA URSI – Spleen, bladder and kidney infections, diabetes, gonorrhea, cystitis
  • VALERIAN – Natural tranquilizer, pain, muscle spasms, nerves, promotes sleep
  • WHITE OAK BARK – Hemorrhoids and bleeding, varicose veins, pyorrhea, pinworms
  • WILD YAM – Female glandular tonic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal
  • YARROW – Obstructed perspiration, nosebleeds, chicken pox, colds/flu/fever
  • YELLOW DOCK – Anemia, blood purifier, itching, liver, skin problems, hepatitis
  • YUCCA – Natural cortisone, arthritis, reduces joint inflammation, skin problems

*As with any changes to diet, please consult your physician before implementing any herbal therapy into your wellness initiative.  A small quantity of herbs may potentially produce significant side effects and therefore must be used with caution.

Written By: Michelle Frati, SJC Staff Member

Photo By: JamieSanford    License: Creative Commons

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G is for Good-for-You GARLIC!

GarlicTruth be told, I couldn’t wait for G week.  There are times I stand alone in my love and loyalty for garlic.  I realize however, I may find myself standing alone simply because of the after effects of eating raw garlic.  I’m almost certain however, that once you read the specs on this malodorous marvel, you too, might overlook the strong odor and be singing the praises of its salubrious side effects.

Consider this excerpt from NY Times Health (2007):

Garlic has long been touted as a health booster, but it’s never been clear why the herb might be good for you. Now new research is beginning to unlock the secrets of the odoriferous bulb.

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers show that eating garlic appears to boost our natural supply of hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is actually poisonous at high concentrations — it’s the same noxious byproduct of oil refining that smells like rotten eggs. But the body makes its own supply of the stuff, which acts as an antioxidant and transmits cellular signals that relax blood vessels and increase blood flow.

In the latest study, performed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, researchers extracted juice from supermarket garlic and added small amounts to human red blood cells. The cells immediately began emitting hydrogen sulfide, the scientists found.

The power to boost hydrogen sulfide production may help explain why a garlic-rich diet appears to protect against various cancers, including breast, prostate and colon cancer, say the study authors. Higher hydrogen sulfide might also protect the heart, according to other experts. Although garlic has not consistently been shown to lower cholesterol levels, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that injecting hydrogen sulfide into mice almost completely prevented the damage to heart muscle caused by a heart attack.

Many home chefs mistakenly cook garlic immediately after crushing or chopping it. To maximize the health benefits, you should crush the garlic at room temperature and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. That triggers an enzyme reaction that boosts the healthy compounds in garlic.

Garlic can cause indigestion, but for many, the bigger concern is that it can make your breath and sweat smell like…garlic. While individual reactions to garlic vary, eating fennel seeds like those served at Indian restaurants helps to neutralize the smell (for more info on fennel, see post for Letter F). Garlic-powder pills claim to solve the problem, but the data on these supplements has been mixed. It’s still not clear if the beneficial compounds found in garlic remain potent once it’s been processed into a pill.

(NY Times/Health/2007)

On a personal note:

A few years ago, I dabbled in “garlic therapy,” eating one raw clove, three times daily, in an effort to regulate my blood pressure naturally, without depending on drug therapy.  Follow-up physical exams revealed not only that my blood pressure was ideal, but that my overall health had improved significantly, and I’ve never looked back!

If you’re still not convinced, consider that garlic therapy has been used to ward off the common cold and even flu.  I’ll refrain from yammering on about the health benefits of raw honey until a future post, but my go-to concoction to make raw garlic more  palatable is to chop a clove or two, let it sit for a few minutes for optimum effectiveness, then add it to a heaping teaspoon of raw honey.  If you’re brave enough, take the whole teaspoon in one mouthful (it goes down easier than you would expect).

Still suspicious?  Consider this report from Examiner.com:

Before vaccines and drug therapy there were, what we call today, natural remedies.  Often highly effective when used cumulatively, herbs and natural healing foods are excellent ways to not only prevent and treat disease, but to enhance overall well-being.  There are no negative side effects as there are with conventional treatments such as drug therapy, only myriad health benefits.

There are several natural healing foods that can be particularly useful to both prevent and treat the flu by boosting the immune system and warding off harmful bacteria, pathogens, and other microbes.  Especially during the flu season, include these immune enhancers into your regular diet.  Garlic is a great traditional flu remedy as it is an all-around balancing natural food.

Used by ancient cultures such as the Egyptians, as well as our own ancestors, garlic is a wonderful healing food.  It acts as an anti-microbial, assisting the body defend itself from harmful microorganisms.  It is more effective when used daily, as not only a flu remedy, but also to treat other respiratory infections such as chronic bronchitis, and recurrent colds, according to Thomas Hoffman’s Holistic Herbal (Element Books, 1996).

Garlic is also helpful for the digestive tract, supporting a healthy environment for good digestive flora.  A balanced environment for beneficial bacteria in turn supports the immune system.  It is also well-known as an excellent source of antioxidants, and as a food to help lower cholesterol levels.

Garlic cloves, rich in cleansing and stimulating volatile oils, can be eaten three times a day, with fresh cloves being the most effective. 

And before you reach for that daily vitamin, why not get your Bs and Cs the natural way?  Garlic is one of the many wonder-herbs that contains vitamins and minerals.  According to Livestrong.com, garlic contains the following:

Vitamin C

According to the Linus Pauling Institute, vitamin C is important for the construction and maintenance of cell walls, especially the skin, connective tissues, bones, gums and teeth. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant within the body, helping to reduce the levels of harmful chemical agents called free radicals. Self Nutrition Data indicates that 3 cloves of garlic provide around 5 percent of the daily required intake of vitamin C.

Vitamin B6

Self Nutrition Data also indicates that the same 3 cloves of garlic deliver around 6 percent of the pyridoxine, also called vitamin B6, required per day by the average adult. This nutrient helps with the proper function of the nervous system, red blood cell formation, hormone activity and nucleic acid production, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Other Vitamins

Garlic also contains lower amounts of other vitamins. These include 1 percent of the daily requirement of thiamin, also called vitamin B1; thiamin, known as vitamin B2; and pantothenic acid. Trace amounts of vitamins E and K, riboflavin and folic acid are also available in garlic.

If you’re still not convinced, I can only assume that you’re either a hopeless sceptic or quite possibly, a vampire.  Either way, I implore you to consider adding a clove or two to your daily diet- and I promise, you won’t stand alone (you can find the rest of your fellow garlic-lovers quite easily).

Here’s a quick and easy recipe that incorporates raw garlic and yields a tasty dip for snacking:

Bulgarian Cucumber Dip

From Kate’s Global Kitchen

What you’ll need:

2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup shelled walnuts
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2-4 tablespoons water as needed
salt

Process garlic and nuts in a food processor or grind in a mortar and pestle to form a smooth paste. Stir in the remaining ingredients, thinning with water as needed, and add salt to taste. Serve with breads, crackers, or crudites.

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