Herb of the Month: Garlic
Author: Alyce Cimino
Traditionally recognised for its potent ability to fight off Vampires, Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used for centuries to support immune and vascular health. The humble garlic, and its many benefits can be dated back to Ancient Egypt 343 BC, where it was often used to give strength a boost and increase productivity.
In modern day society we probably are not running around with garlic necklaces and fending off vampires or building ginormous pyramids, but garlics many health benefits are still relevant today.
Garlic is rich in the sulfur compound Allicin. Allicin is highly researched and is thought to bring the most health benefits. Interestingly Allicin is ‘activated’ or most potent when the garlic is crushed or chewed and is at its highest levels with freshly crushed. Allicin is affected by heat so adding it into meals just before serving or for those strong vampire fighters, chewed fresh.
Garlic has been used traditionally in Western Herbal Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Eastern Medicine and Nutritional Medicine. It has been used traditionally and now in modern society is understood that the regular consumption of garlic has a positive correlation with improved health and general wellbeing.
So let’s dig a little deeper and find out more about this famous bulb.
Garlic has been used for centuries and is often used in home remedies for immune support and relieving the symptoms of the common cold. Interestingly Louis Pasteur described its immune benefits in 1858. Nowadays garlic is often used to provide relief from coughs, assist with colds and flus, reducing severity and duration of symptoms. It is suggested that garlic helps to relieve mucous congestions while fighting to sooth upper respiratory complaints. Garlic exhibits broad spectrum immune benefits and its strong effects on the immune system are attributed to Allicin.
When it comes to cardiovascular health, Garlic is usually on the list. This potent herb provides a rich source of antioxidants that help to support a healthy heart, blood vessels and blood flow. What’s interesting about garlic is, it not only does it contain antioxidant properties itself, it also stimulates the body’s own natural antioxidant activity.
The humble pantry ingredient
Garlic is a simple pantry staple that can be found in most kitchens and array of health benefits. It can be used in multiple ways or can be just added fresh to foods to enjoy the benefits.
Easy ways to boost garlic intake
Garlic is extremely versatile and can be included in many different dishes, the list is endless! But here are a few ideas in ways to get more garlic into your diet:
- Crushed fresh into guacamole and other dips
- Immune tea; crush garlic, ginger, lemon and honey into a mug with hot water.
- Add it to your salad dressing
- Infuse your own garlic oil
- Add it to stir fry’s, stews, roasted vegetables
- Add it to soups like vegetable, pumpkin, lentil or even make your own roasted garlic soup
- Crushed into sauces and marinades
- Munched on raw (for those with a strong stomach and don’t mind a little bit of garlic breath).
[ 1 ] Kyo E, Uda N, Kasuga S, Itakura Y., 2001, ‘ Immunomodulatory Effects of Aged Garlic Extract’, The Journal of Nutrition, Vol 131, p.p 10755 - 10795
[ 2 ] Zeng T, et al., 2012, A Meta-analysis of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials for the effects of garlic on serum lipid profiles’, Journal of Food and Agriculture’, Vol 92, issue 9, p.p 1892-1902.
[ 3 ] Bayan L, Koulivand P, Gorji., 2014, ‘Garlic: A review of potential therapeutic effects’, Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, Vol 4, p.p 1-14
|Written by Alyce Cimino|
Alyce Cimino (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified Naturopath with a passion for nutrition, food as medicine and helping others achieve their health goals towards a happy and healthy lifestyle. Alyce believes health begins with delicious whole foods and in her spare time you can find her in the kitchen creating something deliciously healthy or at the beach enjoying the sunshine and ocean.
Alyce has a love for herbal teas, but all teas are better with a little raw cheesecake on the side.