Ancient and nutritionally powerful

6th January 2015
It’s one of the most ancient and nutritionally powerful vegetables available and its many historic uses as a natural medicine are well documented. With records of consumption dating back to between 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, garlic was revered by ancient Egyptian society for its miraculous healing and life-giving properties. Those building the pyramids were fed cloves of garlic regularly to ensure their bodies remained health and strong throughout the entire build. While in Greek and Roman societies, the most pungent member of the allium family (which also contains leeks and onions) was used by gladiators and soldiers to ensure they were in optimum health before battle. It’s no wonder then that today garlic still reigns supreme and scientific research has backed up historical theory to categorically conclude that this allium is one best included in your daily diet. By eating a clove a day, your body will reap its incredible immune boosting effects, as well as its anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. Garlic’s ability to repair the immune system means it’s incredibly effective as an all-round healing herb. One well-researched scientific study proved that those who eat garlic every day for three months experienced less colds than the control group who took a placebo and if they did contract a cold, those who were regularly eating garlic found it was less severe in its duration. You see, the therapeutic effects of this nutritionally superior allium come from its magical sulfur-containing compounds – the most important of which is known as allicin. And that’s why garlic is best eaten raw because it is how the body is able to most effectively absorbs the most allicin. Allicin is important because it digests in the body, causing sulfenic acid to be released. This acid is responsible for annihilating free radical damage, which is why eating a clove of garlic a day is one of the top anti-ageing foods that you can consume. Modern-day science has also identified that it’s compounds like allicin that give garlic 150 beneficial health effects on the body. These range from reducing risk of heart disease and stroke, lowering and normalising cholesterol and blood pressure as well as protecting against cancer and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. One of the best tips I can give to ensure the garlic you eat works as effectively as possible is to first crush the clove, either in a crusher or with the back-end of a knife and let it sit for a while before eating raw. If you can’t handle the taste of raw garlic and have to cook it, make sure you also leave the garlic for a time to allow the release of an enzyme called alliinase, which in turn catalyses the formation of allicin. Garlic is also a greatly reliable source of selenium, which is an essential trace mineral. What this means is that your body needs to absorb it through what you eat. And because garlic is what scientists call a “seleniferous” plant, it is able to effectively uptake as much selenium as possible, even if the soil isn’t rich in this mineral. I love garlic so much that there is rarely a meal I serve for lunch or in the evenings that doesn’t feature it in some form. It’s such a versatile ingredient and I love how much flavour it adds to dishes, while at the same time being an effective way to manage health. I encourage you to seek out different varieties of garlic at farmer’s markets, especially look out for smoked elephant garlic because its flavour is simply out of this world. Here’s a few more reasons to get involved with garlic:
  • It’s a good way to improve your body’s iron metabolism because the diallyl sulfides in garlic can help increase production of a protein called ferroportin, which is important for allowing cells to transport iron effectively around the body, as it is needed.
  • Scientific research is currently being done into how garlic may help to regulate the number of fat cells that get stored in the body.
  • It has the ability to lower blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
  • But more importantly it’s crucial for cardiovascular health because it protects the blood vessels from inflammation and oxidative stress.
  • Along with its seleninum-superior qualities, garlic is also high in another very important trace mineral called manganese, which is lacking greatly in modern-day diets due to the quality of our soil.