Garlic is the common name for those flavorful and powerfully-scented bulbs that are part of the lily family. Its popular use in Mediterranean cooking goes hand in hand with the popular benefits of the Mediterranean diet. The ancient Egyptians and Greeks were known to use it to treat everything from simple toothaches to leprosy. By the 1800s, research has already confirmed that garlic contained anti-bacterial components and was used to treat tuberculosis and to disinfect wounds. Due to the long history that this herb has claimed, many medicinal properties have already been attributed to the widely used herb.
Studies have shown that the herb gives out considerable protection against some kinds of cancer. Research says that two or more servings of this herb a week can help protect against colon cancer. It can also prevent breast cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer. There are substances in the herb that not only protect the cell from cancer causing agents but can also stop the growth of cancer cells once they develop.
The cloves of this herb can also protect against cardio-vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, hypertension and myocardial infarction. It also plays an important role in lowering blood pressure and reducing serum cholesterol levels. It’s known to be a wonderful infection healer that gives out strong anti-microbial activity to fight colds, stomach viruses, influenza, yeast, tuberculosis and ailments in the skin.
The power of garlic is mainly due to a compound called allicin, which is a sulphur-bearing component that gives the herb its strong aroma and taste. Research has been done to find out the correct way to prepare the herb to maximize the health benefits of the herb. The two types usually found in the supermarkets are the regular small ones and the elephant ones with larger cloves. The elephant ones unfortunately do not offer as many benefits compared to their smaller counterparts.
The herb should be cut, crushed or chewed in order to rupture its cells to release the allicin compounds. The cloves should be finely chopped in order to get the maximum amount of allicin possible. Pressing the cloves onto a fine paste can make it even more pungent. That then generates the most number of benefits. Basically, the stronger the smell of garlic once it’s prepared, the more health benefits it will provide.
Leave the herb for at least 5 to 10 minutes after mincing, crushing or chopping to allow the generation of allicin. It’s best to prepare the cloves first and let them sit while preparing other ingredients for a meal. Raw crushed cloves are said to be the most beneficial but cooking lightly can still preserve the health effects. Cooking them for more than 10 minutes or using the microwave to cook them completely strips off the benefits. The cloves should then be heated in the shortest and fastest amount of time possible.
With the many beneficial effects that garlic can provide, it is but natural for people to want to acquire the benefits of the herb to its full potential. Garlic is widely used and widely available around the globe so it is but wise to maximize its value the best that you can.