One of the oldest cultivated plants in the world, garlic has its share of fame and popularity throughout history. Highly prized as a culinary spice, it has recently been placed in the limelight being crowned as a superfood. Notorious for its pungent smell and distinctive flavour, it was used as a vampire repellent as well as a currency and medicine. Other members in the garlic family include leeks, spring onions and chives, all of which also carry a distinct flavour and aroma.
Why do people consider garlic a superfood?
Garlic contains Manganese, vitamins B6 and C, Selenium and Copper. Other minerals found in garlic include iron, calcium, potassium and phosphorous. All these compounds are essential to a healthy body. But most notable of all would be Allicin. This Sulphur containing compound is what gives garlic is touted antioxidant effect (as well as deadly breath and aftertaste).
100g of garlic would provide:
|149 calories||6.4g protein||0.5g fat||33.1g carbohydrates||2.1g fibre|
Fight against diseases:
Garlic has been suggested to be effective in the fight against cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, cancers, cholesterol and obesity. Studies have shown that those having high garlic consumption have been associated with better blood circulation and lower cholesterol levels, both of which reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This is through Allicin and its compounds, acting as an anticoagulant, which inhibit clots forming in blood vessels. Allicin compounds have also been said to reduce DNA replication, inhibiting the growth of cancer-related cells. Studies have shown that foods prepared with garlic are more effective in reducing high blood pressure than foods without. However, dietitians have concluded that there is still insufficient evidence to endorse the supplementation of garlic to improve your health.
Whoaaaaaa hold on! This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat garlic. Garlic certainly won’t do you any harm. Besides providing you with vitamins and minerals, it can also be used as a weight loss aid. Add them to dishes as a substitute for salt as well as an extra punch of flavor. Other herbs and spices like chili and ginger can go a long way. Salt has been the biggest contributor to high blood pressure, with many consuming 9g/day, almost 2x greater than the recommended intake of 5g/day.
Tip: Garlic can be stored for long periods, from 2 weeks to 2 months if stored in a cool dark place. Breaking the head of garlic can greatly reduce its shelf life to a few days.
Black garlic is garlic that has been fermented in temperatures of 65-80 degrees in a humidity controlled room for about a month, then left to air dry and oxidize for 45 days. This fermentation process gives it its distinct sweeter, prune like taste, which appeals to more tastebuds. However, it maybe the price that throws you off, costing up to $6 per bulb!
Health benefits of black garlic come from Allicin’s counterpart, S-Allylcysteine, and it’s antioxidant properties. Black garlic has roughly two times the amount of antioxidants compared to white garlic, and could be more potent in protecting the body against cancer and other chronic diseases.
I love garlic but hate garlic breath
Fret not! There is a way to cure the dreaded garlic breath. More effective than chewing an entire packet of gum or mouthwash, try chewing on some fresh mint leaves or parsley. Mint was found to be the most effective, followed by chewing on raw apples or raw lettuce, which had only a 50% deodorizing effect. Researchers suggest that raw foods are more effective in curing garlic breath as it has odour eliminating enzymes and phenolic compounds, which vapourize the garlic compounds.
Can garlic be dangerous?
Garlic is generally considered very safe and allergies are scarce. However, eating too much garlic may result in diarrhea, intestinal gas and indigestion.
It is also good to note that garlic may react with certain medications such as blood thinners, making you more susceptible to bleeding. Do consult with your physician if you are taking any cholesterol or hypertension medication.
Singapore General Hospital
British Dietetic Association
Certified nutritionist with sports and fitness in my blood. Basketball is my passion and I live by Ali’s saying “don’t count the days, make the days count” View all articles by Sara.