Health Topic Archives

Garlic: Superfood Extraordinaire

By Dr. Samuel Ascioti

garlic bulbsFor me, there’s nothing quite like the aroma of garlic simmering in oil. The wonderfully spicy scent and flavor reminds me of my dad’s home cooking, and of time well spent with my family. Other people (vampires included) are simply repelled by the pungent taste and smell - both can be equally polarizing!

Garlic belongs to the onion genus Allium and is closely related to shallots, leeks, and chives (1). Long used in folk medicines, garlic has made its impression on pretty much every early civilization - ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Chinese all administered the bulbs to provide strength and increase work capacity. The famed father of medicine, Hippocrates, considered garlic a key medicine in his arsenal of Iron Age remedies (6).

Whether you already like garlic or want some reason to give it a go, good news abounds: garlic is very nutritious and has several important possible health benefits associated with its use. Garlic is high in vitamin B6 and vitamin C, as well as the minerals manganese, copper, selenium, and phosphorus (5). Recent research indicates that garlic consumption may impact a person’s health in several ways, including:

vampires are garlic haters

Additionally, garlic consumption adds a moderate amount of polyphenols into the diet. Polyphenols are special chemicals found in food which may reduce a person’s risk for cancer and decrease inflammation in the body (3).

pressed garlicThe key ingredient to garlic is an organic sulfur compound calledallicin (among other sulfur containing chemicals) (5). In order to maximize the amount of allicin consumed in the garlic, the meal prepper should crush or finely chop the garlic and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes, to allow the proper enzymes to be released from the broken cell walls of the garlic bulb and form the necessary compounds (5). The freshly minced/chopped/crushed garlic should also be added towards the end of cooking, as high heat can destroy allicin.

Incorporating garlic into the diet can be easy! I’ve found it convenient to add garlic while sauteing vegetables, while simmering a stove top soup, and while heating up pasta sauce, all the while making sure I add the chopped garlic towards the final 10 minutes or so of cooking.

The Cleveland Wellness Clinic recommends 1 clove (about 2 grams) once or twice daily per person, or 200-300 mg of dried garlic powder used three times daily, or 1-2 grams of aged garlic extract two to three times daily (3).

CAUTION: garlic consumption may increase bleeding in patients with prescription blood thinners, such as Coumadin/Warfarin. Additionally, garlic may interfere with HIV medication (such as saquinavir) and other anti-platelet medicines (3). Always talk to your chiropractor and medical provider before making any changes to your diet!

Lastly, garlic is notorious for its odor, and may leave an unpleasant aftertaste with bad breath for some. A simple remedy? Chew some parsley sprigs after eating garlic!

References For This Article:

1. Block, E. (2010). Garlic and Other Alliums: The Lore and the Science. Royal Society of
Chemistry.

2. Ehrlich, S. D. (2015, June 22). Garlic. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from
http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/garlic

3. Garlic Supplement Review. (2017). Retrieved February 23, 2017, from
http://www.clevelandclinicwellness.com/Features/Pages/garlic.aspx

4. LD, L. J. (2016, July 18). 6 Surprising Ways Garlic Boosts Your Health. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/02/6-surprising-ways-garlic-boosts-your-health/

5. Mateljian, G. (n.d.). Garlic. Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=60

6. Rivlin, R.S. (2006). Is Garlic Alternative Medicine? Journal of Nutrition, 136(3),
713S-715S. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/3/713S.full.pdf+html

archives

"It takes more energy to be reactive than it does to be proactive."