Garlic Tastes Good, but Is It Good for You?

vt-16.jpgGarlic is famous in folklore for everything from warding off vampires to curing the common cold. Now science is starting to catch up by identifying the rich content of vitamins and trace minerals it contains.

Garlic has been around as long as the pyramids, maybe longer. For millenniums, it’s been a staple remedy in folk medicine. It’s also a key ingredient in Mediterranean cooking (Eating a Mediterranean Diet Reduces Mortality). Now we’re starting to find out, once again, that grandma knew her stuff. Garlic is packed full of vitamins and other nutrients that are not only good for you, but vital to health and wellness!

During World War I, soldiers were given garlic to prevent dysentery. In WWII, it was used against gangrene. Even before that, some say that Louis Pasteur (the scientist famous for making germ theory broadly accepted) recognized its benefit as an antibacterial agent.

Garlic gets its strong flavor from its sulphur content. The stronger the flavor, the more sulphur it contains. Now sulphur is used in the production of amino acids — those little things that protein is built from. Protein is what cells are made of. Without protein, cells weaken, without amino acids, the body can’t construct its protein, and without sulphur, certain proteins don’t get made. Because of it’s sulphur content, science is beginning to think it may be helpful for preventing cancer.

Another element of garlic is allicin — a compound antibiotic and antifungal properties. It’s what gives fresh garlic a hot, burning taste. Allicin doesn’t become active in garlic until it is chopped up or crushed. Unfortunately, allicin loses a lot of its potency when you cook it, so for use as an antibacterial or antifungal, you’re better off going with a garlic oil supplement. But this compound is excellent for dissolving fats within the body, and so helps against arteriosclerosis by keeping plaque build-up down.

Raw garlic is also high in the minerals calcium, iron, potassium, selenium and zinc, and in vitamin compounds that include beta-carotene (a vegetable source of vitamin A), rutin (a strong antioxidant sometimes used in managing hemophilia) and quercetin, a flavonoid very effective against pollen allergies, such as hay fever. And this list is just scratching the surface of the garlic clove!

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