“I LOVE garlic!” is an understatement in my life. It can go into just about any dish and provide a lot of flavor. For those who also have the same love for garlic as I do, we will be discussing the health benefits of garlic and how to grow it yourself in this post.
Garlic has been around for a long period of time, as far back as the ancient and middle centuries. During these times, garlic was the first remedy physicians looked to to cure various diseases such as typhus, dysentery, cholera, and influenza just to name a few.1 Since then there has been more scientific research into how garlic can benefit one’s health. In 1944, an oily substance called allicin was isolated from garlic and determined to have antibacterial properties against some gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.2
One of the health benefits garlic is well known for having are cardioprotective properties by reducing LDL cholesterol and lowering systolic blood pressure.5 This is mostly due to allicin in addition to other compounds found in garlic as proven in animal studies.1 Garlic is a powerful antioxidant.3 Antioxidants are chemical compounds found in foods which can reduce oxidative damage done to DNA in cells of the body. This overall can help reduce risk of chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s in addition to cardiovascular disease.1 In addition to antioxidant properties, garlic has been shown to be anti-carcinogenic. The garlic extract, allicin, stops the mitosis process of cancer cells.4
Want to consume more garlic? To reap the benefits, I suggest adding it to as much of your cooking as possible without overpowering the dish’s taste. One study looking at dose effectiveness of aged garlic extract on hypertension, found 240-480mg to be beneficial in lowering systolic blood pressure.5 Shop for fresh garlic still wrapped in it’s own protective, papery skin. When ready to use the cloves, remove the outer papery layer and prepare as required by the recipe. By crushing, chopping, or mincing the fresh garlic cloves, you will release the health promoting oils unlike garlic powder or the pre-minced garlic usually found in a jar. If you want to mince garlic into your dishes, I suggest purchasing this Pampered Chef garlic press. This tool makes it fast and easy to mince garlic as well as easy to clean.
Want to have your own garlic readily available? Growing your own garlic is easy. Purchase a bulb of garlic from the store. Separate the cloves, leaving the papery skin on each one. In a container with drainage or in the ground, plant a clove 4-6″ apart from each other and 1-2″ into the soil. When planting the clove, the pointier side should be up with the blunt side down. When the garlic is ready to be harvested, the leaves will be mostly brown. Carefully dig up the bulbs and allow them to dry in a shady, well-circulated area for 2-3 weeks. Store them in a dark place away from sunlight such as a kitchen cupboard or pantry.6
Try out these recipes to incorporate your freshly grown garlic:
1 Extracts from the History and Medical Properties of Garlic. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249897/
2 Dervendzi V. 2nd ed. Skopje: Narodna Kniga; 1992. Sovremeno lekuvanje so lekoviti bilki; pp. 306–7.
3 Garlic supplementation prevents oxidative DNA damage in essential hypertension. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16335787/
4 Gorunovic M. Beograd: Gorunovic; 2001. Farmakognozija; pp. 672–80.
5 Aged Garlic Extract Reduces Blood Pressure in Hypertensives: A Dose-Response Trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3561616/
6 How to Grow Garlic Bulbs. http://www.burpee.com/gardenadvicecenter/vegetables/garlic/garlic/article10268.html