Get to know garlic
Garlic is a staple in many kitchens around the world, and for good reasons. Its delicious taste and smell can add depth and flavour to dishes like no other ingredient can. But there is more to garlic than meets the eye. Get to know garlic and all its nutritional benefits!
A quick history
Garlic belongs to the Allium family and is a close relative of the onion, chives, leek, and shallot. Records show that garlic has been used both in the kitchen and for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. In fact, the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, who is often called “the father of modern medicine” used to prescribe garlic to treat a variety of issues. It’s also known that garlic was given to some of the original Olympic athletes as a “performance enhancer.”
Small but mighty!
Not only is garlic delicious but it is also nutritious and doesn’t contain many calories. One 3g clove of garlic is only about 4.5 calories, 0.2 grams of protein and 1 gram of carbs and is a ZeroPoint food on all three myWW+ plans. The same serving of garlic also contains up to 2% of your daily value of manganese and vitamin B6, 1% of the daily value of selenium and vitamin C. Garlic also contains trace amounts of a ton of other important nutrients like fibre, iron and calcium! So you’ll be happy to know when you’re enjoying a garlicky meal, you’re also taking in some essential nutrients.
Besides keeping away pesky vampires, garlic has been known to do some pretty incredible things for the human body.
Combating sickness like the common cold:
Taking garlic supplements and consuming garlic has long been considered a way to lessen the frequency, severity, and duration of the common cold. The reason for this is that garlic contains a compound called alliin which when consumed turned into allicin. Allicin contains sulfur and is what gives garlic its distinct taste and smell. The sulfur compounds in allicin are thought to boost the disease fighting capabilities in our white blood cells.
Many studies have been carried out to prove these claims, with some interesting but mixed results. One large, 12- week study revealed that taking a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63% compared to the group that received a placebo. Another study found that colds were 61% shorter when taking 2.56 grams of aged garlic extract per day.
While it does sound like garlic does have an impact on cold in general, more research is needed to truly understand how it affects cold duration, severity, and frequency.
Reducing blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels:
Since 1975 there have been more than 46 human studies on the effects of garlic on the cardiovascular system. Many of these studies support the claims that garlic can reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure and lower LDL cholesterol levels.
One small study had 23 individuals take garlic extract supplements for 4 months. All 23 of these participants had high cholesterol levels and 13 also had high blood pressure. This study concluded that garlic extract supplements reduced high cholesterol levels, and blood pressure in the patients who had high blood pressure.
While that study was small, many other scientific studies support the idea that garlic can have significant effects on the cardiovascular system. With this being said, there is still work to be done on figuring out proper use, duration and potential interactions with other medications.
It’s important to note that if you have any cardiovascular conditions, have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood-thinning medications, talk to your doctor before increasing your garlic intake.
Other health claims about garlic:
There are dozens of other claims and studies surrounding the benefits of garlic and its products, and we encourage you to research them for yourself if interested:
- Garlic contains antioxidants that may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
- Garlic may boost athletic performance
- Garlic has the potential to improve bone health
- Garlic might help detoxify the body of heavy metals.
Garlic galore! Check out these garlic focused recipes.
If all this talk about garlic has made your mouth water, then you have come to the right place! Garlic is an essential ingredient in dishes from all around the world and we have put together a list of some of our favourite garlic recipes here at WW.