Garlic is arguably one of the most underrated plants around. Not only was it made famous by Bram Stoker, who thrust it into the limelight as an effective vampire deterrent, but it’s also believed to have been used for thousands of years as a form of herbal medicine. Beginning with the Egyptians, who used garlic to treat skin diseases, it’s also been documented as curing constipation in the middle ages, and managing toothache during the Renaissance. Experts say we should all try to include garlic in our diets.
What Can Garlic Do?
A better question would be ‘what can’t garlic do?’ Health professionals believe that garlic can actually be used to treat and manage many different conditions. From heart health and blood sugar glucose, to cancer and the common cold, it seems there’s no limit as to the health benefits of garlic. Other foods that are closely related to garlic, such as onions, shallots, leeks, and chives, may also bring similar benefits.
How Does it Work?
The reasons why garlic is so beneficial are not entirely understood, but it’s believed that it mostly comes down to allicin, a natural compound that has both antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. The antimicrobial nature of allicin can kill off harmful germs and bacteria to improve health, while the antioxidant properties help garlic to neutralise ‘free radicals’ in the body which can affect health.
Garlic tends to be quite potent, so it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s this potency that gives garlic its power. Allicin is only produced once damage occurs to the garlic; this is when the enzymes in the garlic convert alliin into allicin. Therefore, garlic is at its best when it’s been chopped or crushed.
If you’re not too fond of garlic, garlic tablets are one of the best options. They have very little – if any – taste, and can be taken in the same way as vitamin tablets, so they’re convenient for people who are on-the-go. If you’d like to incorporate more garlic into your cooking, how about trying out some different varieties? Simonetti garlic (also called artichoke garlic), and Burgundy garlic tend to taste a little milder.