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Garlic – A Healthier Heart in Every Clove

There’s just no substitute for this bulb

Garlic is one of the most essential ingredients used in savory recipes for which there is no substitute, and the piquant bulb associated with warding off disease, the occasional vampire, and first kisses is packed with nutrition. Now garlic is a staple in cooking, but it was once considered a scanty substitute to flavor food. People went to lengths not to smell like garlic, as it was a sign that you were poor. Today, the plant product is hailed for the zest it provides and its health

Now garlic is a staple in cooking, but it was once considered a scanty substitute to flavor food. People went to lengths not to smell like garlic, as it was a sign that you were poor. Today, the plant product is hailed for the zest it provides and its health benefits, and is even said to be an aphrodisiac.

Whether you prefer the bitter, pungent raw form or the sweet, caramel notes released from the cooked version, adding more garlic to your diet doesn’t just improve the flavor of your food.

Wendy Wu, registered dietitian and author of the Happy Dietitian blog, suggests people try to incorporate at least one or two fresh cloves into their meals each day to get the wide array of health benefits garlic provides.

“Garlic is a nutrition powerhouse containing many different vitamins and minerals, but what sets it apart is that it is rich in a type of antioxidant called allicin, which may be especially important for helping to promote heart health,” Wendy says.

Studies show the sulfur compound can improve blood flow and provide other cardiac benefits. “It [also] may help lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, boost the immune system from its antimicrobial benefits and help people with arthritis relieve pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties.”

Allicin is released when garlic is chewed or crushed, and Wendy says it is best to let the cloves sit for at least five minutes after mincing or crushing it to activate the allinase enzymes and get the most benefit. Some experts even suggest extending that time to 15 minutes.

It’s likely no surprise that fresh garlic is ideal and provides more nutrition then the powdered, jarred or pill forms. Luckily the herb is dynamic in the kitchen, boosting a variety of vegetables and bringing potatoes to life. Garlic can be fragile, however. Wendy suggests turning the stove down to medium to avoid spoiling the sweet flavor of cooked garlic.

A Garden Life
 

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