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Mad for garlic


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Mad for garlic

The best known member of the Allium family, garlic has enjoyed a storied history across civilisations. The Egyptian and Indian cultures referred to it some 5,000 years ago, the Babylonians grew it in their hanging gardens 4,500 years ago, the Chinese documented its medical healing 2,000 years ago. 

This pungent herb has been highly prized for its medical properties. The Egyptians valued it so much that they used garlic as currency; shortages due to flooding led to one of two recorded slave revolts. The Chinese believed it to be a source of heat to nourish and tonify. More recently in modern medicine, garlic was used on the battlefront to treat wounds and fight infection, or as an antiseptic to clean wounds.

Scientists today have linked its many benefits to a number of sulphur compounds in garlic. When cut or crushed, these sulphurous compound oxidise and form new therapeutic compounds, the most researched being allicin and ajoene

There are almost 300 varieties of garlic, but the more common ones you would find differ by their centre stalk and the number of cloves in each bulb. The hardneck garlics have a strong centre stalk and have a spicier, more complex profile – great for infusions and heavy roasts. If you prefer eating your garlic raw, go for the milder soft neck garlics that have less of a bite. For more color, you’ll want Creole garlics that come in reds, pinks and purples. And of course there’s the black garlic which we go into later.

Garlic’s active compounds reduce blood pressure and LDL 
Several human studies reveal active compounds in garlic, like allicin, diallyl disulfide & s-allyl cysteine to be as effective as medication in lowering blood pressure. In fact, they measure the dosage to be about 4 cloves garlic daily. Garlic also lowers total cholesterol, especially LDL. Interestingly, allicin in garlic actually forms in greater potency after it’s cut or crushed and exposed to air for a few minutes.

Using garlic: some useful tips to enhance nutrients and flavor
Garlic’s healthy allicin compound is best when fresh rather than packaged. After chopping, let sit 10 minutes so allicin develops. Cook on low heat to avoid burning allicin and bitter flavors. Store garlic in a cool, dry, well ventilated place and don’t refrigerate. Select garlic bulbs that are firm and have no sprouts forming. Finally, to get the smell off your hands after chopping, scrub with lemon or salt before rinsing.

Garlic: Simple Home Remedies
Garlic not only boosts our immune system but is also an antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiseptic herb.

  • Ear Pain – Warm oil, add crushed garlic, cool & strain. Put a few drops to relieve pain.
  • Pain & Swelling – Warm oil massage with crushed garlic relieves pain.
  • Cholesterol – Eating 1 raw garlic everyday reduces cholesterol and obesity.

Black garlic: an antioxidant-rich sweet, gelatinous treat

Black garlic is simply fresh garlic fermented at high temperatures for long periods of time. This environment facilitates the Maillard reaction which produces new flavour compounds – when you chew down on one, it’s almost like you’re eating a mild, sweet date. The allicin that gives garlic its sharp taste is significantly reduced in black garlic, and instead turns into numerous alkaloids and flavonoids, with an antioxidant bioactivity almost 10-fold that of normal garlic!