The Benefits of Garlic

Article By: Celestina Brunetti, Dietetic Intern

April 19th is National Garlic Day!

Don’t be afraid to use this smelly, but delicious ingredient.

Garlic has numerous uses including medicinal and culinary applications.
  • Cloves of garlic contain phyto-nutrients that have been proven benefits against coronary heart disease, infections, cancers, and can aid in lowering blood cholesterol levels.
  • When garlic is chopped the organic compounds inside the clove convert to allicin, an oily liquid, which decreases blood vessel stiffness and ultimately helps to reduce total blood pressure.
 Garlic is an excellent source of minerals and vitamins that are necessary for good health.
  • It is one of the richest sources of potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, vitamin c, beta-carotene, and selenium. Selenium is a heart-healthy mineral!
  • It also contains 17 amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, which are essential to all bodily functions. It is important to consume amino acids daily, because they are not stored in the body, like fats and carbohydrates.
  • Garlic can help you externally as well; when applied to a wound it can promote faster healing.
  • While garlic is available in capsule form, as a supplement, it is recommended that garlic should be consumed in its natural form to obtain the greatest medicinal benefits.
 Cooking with garlic can add great flavor to food instead of adding large amounts of salt.
  • When shopping for garlic it is important to choose a firm, tight, heavy, dry bulb to ensure that it will taste its best and provide the most nutrition.
  • To activate the benefits in the garlic it must be chopped or crushed. Raw, freshly minced garlic provides the most health benefits; if it cooked, four times the amount will be needed to achieve the same health benefits.
  • Raw garlic will have a spicy, pungent flavor where as when cooked it can have a sweeter flavor profile.
  • Roasting garlic can impart a sweeter, more appealing taste—cut the top of a whole bulb of garlic, enough to expose each of the individual cloves, rub the cloves lightly with olive oil, wrap the entire bulb in foil and roast in a 400°F oven for 30-35 minutes, until the cloves feel soft. This garlic “butter” can be mixed into mashed potatoes, rubbed on chicken before baking, added to humus, used as a spread on bread, or added in place of raw garlic in any recipe.
  • Cooking with garlic can leave a pungent smell on one’s hands; this smell can be removed by running your hands under cold water while rubbing a stainless steel object.

Check out this delicious, garlicky recipe:

Lemon & Garlic Broccoli

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