Garlic is used in many recipes as it has quite a versatile flavour and is an important cooking ingredient used all over the world. Not only that but it's really good for us, so we should try to use it as much as possible when cooking. Garlic is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral indeed anti-everything apart from life!
Garlic, or Allium sativum to call it by its correct botanical name, is in the same family of plants as onions, leeks and chives. It is native to central Asia.
Garlic has been used medicinally for over 5000 years and has many traditional uses such as treating atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), diarhhoea, coughs, colds and hypertension (high blood pressure).
Garlic is an excellent source of vitamin B6. It is high in vitamin C and is a good source of the trace elements manganese and selenium. It also contains many minerals such as phosphorous, calcium, iron, potassium and copper.
One of the most important compounds found in Allium plants such as garlic is the chemical allicin. This is what gives garlic its strong flavour and odour and it is also responsible for many of the health benefits you get from garlic.
When preparing the garlic clove it's important to crush it first as this stimulates the enzymatic conversion of alliin into allicin.
To get the most out of garlic it's best to eat raw and if possible within a few hours of preparing it. However, you can still get many of the benefits from cooking with it.
Garlic is said to have many health benefits;
- protection against atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
- the reduction of blood pressure
- the prevention and treatment of Candida albicans - a yeast responsible for oral and genital thrush
- the prevention and treatment of coughs and colds
- anti-cancer properties
- the prevention of insect bites
- it is also a powerful antioxidant - which helps to protect against damaging free radicals
There are many good recipes on the site that use garlic. The salsa verde in Alex's Fillet of Fish with Salsa Verde recipe and the homemade guacamole in Alex's Fish Tacos with Homemade Guacamole and Courgette Salad recipe both use raw garlic. Why not give them a try? The salsa verde goes well with any meat or fish dish and the homemade guacamole goes really well on some bread or as a healthy dip for snacks.
Other ways of getting raw garlic into your diet could be crushing two garlic cloves with some parsley or chives into some butter to make a lovely garlic butter that can be used as an accompaniment to meat, fish and vegetables or you could use it to make your own garlic bread - delicious!
Other recipes on the site that include garlic are;
- Chicken Stir Fry
- Pasta with Homemade Tomato Sauce
- Aubergine Curry
- Leek and Potato Soup
- Broccoli, Cheese and Walnut Soup
- Chicken 'Pottage'
- Nandos Style Chicken Thighs
- Butternut Squash, Red Pepper and Sweet Potato Soup
If you're interested in finding out more then why not check out these meta-anaylses that I found on PubMed that discuss the evidence for the benefits of garlic?
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