It’s national garlic day in the US, but I think it’s worth all of us celebrating the culinary, nutritional and medicinal uses of this pungent bulb!
Adding flavour to so many recipes, many of which I think would just not be the same without a little garlic. My hot broccoli dip recipe, lemon & garlic chicken, hummus, and curries are a good examples.
If you want a vegetarian recipe, you can watch a film of me preparing one, and download my sweet potato curry recipe
When folk I am coaching say they don’t like the taste of garlic, I often suggest they try cooking with just one clove, and see what they think. Often it is the very strong garlic taste they find offensive and they will often like foods I demonstrate.
Sometimes folk report misinterpreting a recipe and using the whole bulb, or head of garlic rather than just one clove, or segment, taken from the split bulb!
The good: nutritional benefits of garlic
Garlic is low in calories and very rich in Vitamin C, Selinium, Vitamin B6, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and vitamin E. It also contains trace amounts of other nutrients.
It has also been reported to reduce fat stores. Garlic stimulates the satiety hormone which reduces binge eating and sugar cravings and it releases the norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter which boosts metabolism.
The good: health benefits of garlic
Garlic contains antioxidants, notably allicin, helps to prevent and reduce the severity of common illnesses like the flu and common cold. An ingredient in Dale Pinnock’s flu fighter soup, which also containts lot of other health giving ingredients and is also a great base for curries.
Garlic is claimed to help prevent heart disease. High doses of garlic appear to improve blood pressure of those with known high blood pressure (hypertension). Garlic supplementation also seems to reduce total and LDL cholesterol, particularly in those who have high cholesterol.
Antioxidants protect against cell damage and ageing. It may reduce the risk of cancer and dementia.
It is most therapeutic when crushed and then diced. You should not heat it for too long or important nutrients are damaged. Consider how you can addapt your cooking, adding garlic towards the end . It’s most potent when eaten raw, such as in guacamole, hummus or salad dressings. Some recommend chewing garlic raw!
If you don’t like the taste or the after whif, then it is worth taking odorless garlic supplements. However, do not take garlic supplements if you take blood-thinning medication, have stomach ulcers or a thyroid condition. It may interact with some prescription medicines, including insulin, anti-viral drugs, anti-inflammatory medicines and certain contraceptives so discuss garlic supplementations with your doctor.
The good: beauty benefits of garlic
Rub a sliced clove of garlic on acne and cold sores for an effective topical treatment.
Infuse oil with garlic and massage it into your scalp to help combat hair loss, or onto skin to help with psoriasis.
Soak feet in a bowl of warm water and crushed garlic to relieve athlete’s foot.
Place a slice of garlic over a splinter of wood in your skin and covering it with a dressing.
Mosquitoes can be kept at bay by garlic
I have found garlic to be an easy garden crop. Several of the photos are from a visit to the garlic farm who supply smoked, black and even Elephant garlic for cooking as well as garlic to sow.
The bad: garlicky smell
Garlic is known for causing bad breath (halitosis), and causing sweat to have a pungent “garlicky” smell. The sulfurous compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream, and exit the body through the lungs and skin.
So, if like me you like what garlic brings to food as well as the likely health benefits, what can we do to cut down on the garlic breath phenomena?
If you want to be intimate with someone, then make sure they consume garlic too. The only time garlic breath bothers my husband or I is if one of us has consumed garlic and the other one hasn’t!
There is the mechanical removal of the garlic particles from our mouth by brushing and flossing teeth, as well as tongue scraping. Here are numerous suggestions to cover up or neutralize the garlic compounds.
- My favourite is Parsley – using recipes that also use parsley and chew on parsley after eating garlic, if I am concerned about my breath.
- Cardamom, mint, fennel, cloves, anise seeds
- Studies conducted at Ohio State University have shown that drinking milk, especially higher fat milk, can reduce garlic breath.
- Lemon – Lemon is very effective in neutralizing the garlic odor. Some suggest sucking on a lemon wedge after eating garlic, but I prefer a slice of lemon in hot water to drink! Also washing your hands with lemon juice helps to remove the odor from your hands.
- Tea, especially green and peppermint, contain polyphenols that reduce the volatile sulfur compounds that the garlic produces.
The bad: possible bloating
Garlic contains fructo-oligosaccharides, short chain carbohydrates, commonly referred to as fructans. Humans do not have enzymes to break down oligosaccharides which mean gut bacteria ferment them, possibly leading to irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
Are you on a FODMAP diet and avoid garlic? Since fructans are not oil soluble, you can buy garlic infused oil, or make your own at the start of cooking. Using whole garlic cloves, sautee the garlic with coconut oil in a pan for 20 minutes at medium temperature. Remove the garlic and then cook the rest of your meal with the infused oil. The oil infused with garlic should be use immediately. Throw away any leftovers – something you rarely hear me say – to avoid the slight risk of a bacterium called Clostridium Botulinum.
Not all IBS sufferers, or indeed fructan sensitive people, are sensitive to garlic, so test in the reintroduction phase of the FODMAP diet to see if you can add small amounts back in.
I would love to hear about how you celebrate national garlic day – please leave a comment below