Known for its medicinal and curative benefits, garlic has been cultivated and utilized for centuries in numerous cultures. This mini bulb of magic is also utilized in about 90% of our diet (pro tip: garlic on everything!). The raw properties of this superfood have shown to fight the flu, treat viral infections, lower blood pressure, and improve the body's antioxidant levels. Discovered by the Egyptians over 3500 years ago, garlic is one of the first foods renowned for maintaining health and disease prevention.
Fresh garlic contains your basic compounds- water, carbohydrates, proteins, fiber and fat, as well as: 33 sulfur compounds, 17 amino acids, germanium, calcium, copper, potassium, iron, magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, selenium, and a few other trace elements.
Garlic also contains an array of phytochemicals that work synergistically, mainly the organosulfur components. The abundance of this compound is what provides garlic with its pungent flavor and aroma.
Research has shown SAC has the ability to lower cholesterol, act as an antioxidant, inhibit the cancer process, and protect the liver from toxins.
Intact garlic bulbs contain high amounts of γ-glutamylcysteines, which transform into numerous bioactive compounds when fresh garlic is chopped, cut, or bruised. The primary compounds with potential health benefits in garlic are steroid saponins, ajoene, diallyl sulfide (DAS), diallyl disulfide (DADS) and diallyl trisulfide (DAT), dithiins, ajoene and S-allylcysteine (SAC). The main phytochemical that is highly bioavailable is SAC, a water-soluble, sulfur-substituted cysteine, that is easily absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and distributed mainly in plasma, liver, and kidney.
SAC also inhibits Cholesteryl ester transporting protein (CEPT), which changes HDL to LDL cholesterol.
Health benefits of Garlic:
- Garlic derivatives have been found to influence an increasing number of molecular mechanisms in carcinogenesis, including DNA adduct formation, scavenging of free radicals, mutagenesis, cell proliferation and differentiation, and angiogenesis.
- Other benefits include: antibiotic, antioxidant, natural anticoagulant, antihypertensive effects hypolipidemic.
Recommended intake of Garlic:
- Whole garlic clove (as a food supplement): 2 - 4 grams per day of fresh, minced garlic clove (each clove is approximately 1 gram)
- Dried power: 300mg, 2 to 3 times a day
- Aged garlic extract: 600 - 1,200 mg, daily in divided doses
So there you have it, pure justification to throw in those extra 1, 2, 5, cloves when preparing your next dish. Not that anyone would actually need justification for consuming garlic in bulk... just save it for the second date.