Did you know garlic is considered an herb? Garlic has been a staple in my household since I was a little girl and being Russian, garlic is an important ingredient for many Russian dishes. I love it raw, cooked, baked and any other way it can be made, but I know many people who hate the smell and taste of garlic. Now, let's think about all the health benefits garlic brings and rethink our choice. Garlic smell and taste can be easily masked without you even knowing it's there, for example with raw honey, but your body will reap the benefits.
For one, garlic is known for its antioxidant protection. Its warming, pungent flavor makes it a stimulant to the immune system. It has been used as a remedy for coughs, colds and flus. Garlic lowers fever by promoting sweating which eliminates toxins from the body.
Garlic is on the top of the list for minor irritations such as dandruff (this was news to me!), flatulence aka gas, and insect bites.
The herb also elevates good HDL cholesterol and lowers the bad LDL cholesterol.
However raw garlic contains the highest content of active ingredient, hence it's best medicinally. But when it's cooked, the chemistry changes and it offers other benefits.
Raw garlic produces a compound known as allicins that can help to protect against cancer and heart disease. However, when you cook garlic, allinase becomes inactivated, preventing the production of allicin. Still, it may be possible to prepare cooked garlic with allicin levels similar to raw garlic.
If you are considering taking the easy, lazy route by taking a garlic capsule, think again! The more processing garlic undergoes (which it does in the process of making a capsule out of it), the more health-giving benefits are destroyed.
According to Pat Crocker, author of The Healing Herbs Cookbook (Robert Rose, 1999), one clove of raw garlic provides about 6 grams of protein, 29 mg of calcium, 202 mg of phosphorous, 529 mg of potassium and 15 mg of vitamin C. Garlic also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, natural sugars, the nucleic acid adenosine and trace minerals such as copper, germanium, iron, manganese, selenium, tin and zinc.
My most favorite way to prepare garlic is cut the top of it off, wrap the whole thing in foil, splash some olive oil inside the bulb. Put it in the oven preheated to 400F and bake for 40-1hr. It pops right out of the bulb and is soft, creamy and delicious. You can even make a garlic dip with it. Add some sour cream to it, some chives and mmmm yummy and healthy dip!
Or check out this simple Kale & Garlic Saute