No matter how you slice it or dice it, garlic is one of the most powerful foods when it comes to our health. I enjoyed speaking about the nutritional and medicinal benefits of garlic today at the WNC Garlic Fest on September 26 at 2:30 at Sow True Seed on Asheville’s South Slope. I enjoyed stopping by the garlic trail where there was many creative foods to try and a day full of classes. Fall is the time to plant garlic for next year so Sow True Seed now has garlic sets and other great fall/winter things to grow.
Here are a few of the highlights of my talk in case you miss it at the Garlic Fest on this post.
Garlic is a nutrition power house! It’s rich in vitamin K, B6, C, iron, magnesium, maganese, zinc, copper and selenium. It contains the antioxidants beta-carotene and zeaxanthin which help reduce the free radicals in our body.
Allicin and Its Benefits
Whole garlic has the precursors to form the phytochemical allicin. Allicin is an oily, slightly yellow liquid that is formed when the garlic clove is chopped or crushed. This powerful phytochemical appears to have a number of medicinal health benefits. Some of the benefits may include a lower blood pressure, anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties, help boost immune system, possible anti-inflammatory benefits. It may also lower cholesterol, slow skin aging and reduce stress!
The anti-aging properties of garlic may come from the powerful antioxidants which slow the free radicals in the skin cells.
The reduction of stress may contribute to the adrenal glands to produce less stress hormones.
Garlic’s immune boosting properties may help reduce the incidence of cold and flu. It may possibly have a role in prevention of cancer and improved health outcomes.
How Much to Have?
1-4 cloves a day (4000 mcg allicin)
Chop and allow sitting for 10-15 minutes. After the enzyme reaction has occurred, can cook it and still receive some benefit. Garic in its raw form seems to be the most potent.
I also wanted to give you a few really easy ways to share some really easy ideas to get your daily dose of garlic.
I have successfully grown garlic in my garden, so if you love to garden, garlic might be a great plant to add to your list! Locally grown garlic is fresher, tastier and may even contain more of those healthier phytonutrients and antioxidants in your diet than garlic purchased at the grocery store. It is also nice to know who grew it and how it is processed before it gets to you!
After checking out the Sow True Seed website, I had a quick tutorial of some of the varieties of garlic that can be grown and the advantages to each of them! Some of the ones that are available from Sow True Seeds include California Early which is a soft neck and elephant garlic. Their Chesnok Red has already been sold out on their website!
Simple Things to Do With Garlic
Roasted garlic may not provide as many of the benefits as the garlic that has been chopped and has a medicinal, chemical reaction but it still has a lot of things that are good for us and it is also very tasty!
Roasting garlic mellows the flavor of the garlic and makes a soft, spreadable paste that you can use for a lot of different recipe.
Take one or more heads of garlic and cut the top off of the head. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place garlic in a pan and drizzle with olive oil. You can drizzle olive oil over the head. Wrap in foil and check on garlic after 30 minutes. A whole head may take up to 4o minutes. You can also do it more quickly by separately the head into cloves. You can press the garlic out of the outside covering. You can store it 2 weeks in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.
You can spread it on bread or crackers, add to salad dressing, use in hummus or other dips, use a a pizza topping or use instead of red sauce or add to soups, casseroles and sauces.
Reading about the different methods of chopping and mincing versus pressing. I read a very interesting article at Serious Eats
It compared hand chopped garlic with a knife to pressed garlic, garlic that had been microplaned and garlic crushed in a mortar and pestle. They did a taste test and found that garlic that is pressed or microplaned has a much stronger taste than garlic that has been handchopped or even that crushed with a mortar or pestle.
Here are two staples that you can make to add lots of flavor to your meals!
- Try my lemony, garlic Greek Salad dressing! Making your own salad dressing is more flavorful than those store bought ones and it is less sodium and other chemicals! Check out the recipe from one of my previous posts Lemony Garlic Greek Salad Dressing
2. Another easy way to get your chopped garlic is to make your own olive oil, garlic bread dip just like at the restaurant. You can sit outside and sip your favorite beverage! This makes a great, easy appetizer or even as part of your meal!
Olive Oil and Garlic Bread Dip
Serves 4 people
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
In a small flat bowl or deep platter add olive oil, herbs and chopped garlic. Serve with toasted bread rounds.
As a registered dietitian nutritionist in Asheville, I am honored to take part in the WNC Garlic Fest and sign a few Farm Fresh Nutrition books! I hope that you can stop by and see me! Here is a little more about my book Farm Fresh Nutrition
I hope that learning about some of the medicinal and nutritional benefits of garlic is helpful. Stay tuned for more in my series The Healing Kitchen!