“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”
Those are famous words from the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, often called the father of Western medicine.
He actually used to prescribe garlic to treat a variety of medical conditions. Garlic gets overlooked. A powerhouse, garlic can do a lot of things for the body. Think of it as a daily security check. Garlic does so many great things for your body, but oh, not the breath. Garlic is potent and when too heavy, too much garlic, you become garlic. But hey, nothing’s free.
Garlic benefits rank only second to turmeric benefits in the amount of research backing this superfood. Intensely aromatic and flavorful, garlic is used in virtually every cuisine in the world. When eaten raw, it has a powerful pungent flavor and helps the body to prevent and improve a wide spectrum of ailments.
My history with Garlic & the Present Day
Growing up in an Italian household, garlic has been on the menu basically since I was a fetus. My family used it frequently in its cooking so I’ve probably been getting a lot of the benefits for a while now. But after learning more and more about Italian cooking, why it was used, and I dug a bit deeper, I decided I needed #MoreGarlic. So, I started eating it raw as part of my daily health routine.
Since I’ve started things have been running smoothly and I've been feeling good, but it's difficult to totally discern what's a garlic driven benefit and what's not. "If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” so until I experience otherwise, I’m sticking with it.
So, why Garlic you say?
- Hardening of the Arteries — As we age, arteries tend to lose their ability to stretch and flex which impacts blood flow throughout our bodies. Taking garlic regularly seems to reduce this effect though research is still ongoing.
- Controls Blood Pressure — The polysulfides in garlic seem to reduce systolic blood pressure (the top number) by about 7-9 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by about 4-6 mmHg in people with high blood pressure, according to WebMd. The polysulfides in garlic promote the opening or widening of blood vessels, thereby creating this effect
- High cholesterol — Some evidence suggests that taking garlic can reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol) by a small amount in people with high cholesterol levels. However, no evidence has yet shown that taking garlic increases the “good” cholesterol known as high-density lipoprotein or HDL or that it lowers levels of other blood fats called triglycerides.
- Treats Colds & Infections — Coming in hot! Garlic’s antimicrobial, antiviral & antifungal properties help to fortify the immune system and correct imbalances.
- Help with Dementia Prevention & Symptoms — Loaded with antioxidants, garlic helps prevent oxidative damage that can lead to cognitive disorders & illnesses
- Potential Cancer Fighter — Bioactively available sulfur compounds found in garlic are affected by many biological processes in the body that work to modify cancer risk. Garlic is believed to have effects at each stage of cancer and can help to prevent cancer.
- Treats Diabetes — Reducing LDL cholesterol, encourage circulation, & improves & regulates blood sugar levels are a few ways garlic can help to manage diabetes
Raw'er the betterEating raw or uncooked garlic will yield the best bang for your buck. I personally prefer to dice it up into small pieces and then just wash it down with a glass of water; the smaller pieces create more surface area and improve absorption in your stomach. If you bite into it like an apple, things can get reckless. It will burn, cause discomfort and just overpower your overall mouth environment. Of course, you can always cook with it, too. However, note that the benefits of garlic tend to diminish when not raw or cooked.
- To eat raw garlic – or anytime using garlic! – be sure to remove the outer skin. I like to cut off the ends, too.
- Garlic can be tough on the stomach, so start by eating a quarter or half and be cognizant how it feels on your stomach. Eating it on an empty stomach can cause some discomfort. I usually will take it at dinner time when eating.