Truth 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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
Photo By: fotoGB (garthimage) License: Creative Commons