When anyone asks me what I consider to be the top health beneficial herbs, garlic certainly makes the top five. Did you know that garlic is called “the stinking rose”? Even though the “fragrance” produced by consuming garlic is less than appealing, the important health benefits of garlic, especially the reduction of inflammation, are certainly worth it for those who desire a healthy body.
A member of the lily or Allium family, which also includes onions and leeks, garlic is rich in a variety of powerful sulfur-containing compounds including thiosulfinates (of which the best known compound is allicin), sulfoxides (among which the best known compound is alliin), and dithiins (in which the most researched compound is ajoene). While these compounds are responsible for garlic’s characteristically pungent odor, they are also the source of many health benefits of garlic. Garlic is very easy to incorporate into daily means since it adds wonderful aroma and taste to so many recipes.
Most of us know that oxidative damage in the body leads to unwanted inflammation and inflammation is usually the beginning of most diseases. It is also this combination of unwanted inflammation and oxidative stress that puts our blood vessels at risk of unwanted plaque formation and clogging. Garlic’s unique set of sulfur-containing compounds helps protect your body against both possibilities—oxidative stress and unwanted inflammation. Definitely a double positive!
Garlic’s Sulfur-Containing Constituents that Help Lower the Body’s Risk of Oxidative Stress
- allyl polysulfides (APS)*
- diallyl sulfide (DAS)
- diallyl disulfude (DADS)
- diallyl trisulfide (DATS)
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
- N-acetyl-S-allylcysteine (NASC)
- S-allylcysteine (SAC)
- S-allylmercaptocysteine (SAMC)
- S-ethylcysteine (SEC)
- S-methylcysteine (SMC)
- S-propylcysteine (SPC)
- 1,2-vinyldithiin (1,2-DT)
* “Allyl polysulfides” is a general term that refers to a variety of compounds.
DID YOU KNOW? You can increase the health benefits of garlic by letting it sit after its been chopped or crushed. If you give your chopped/crushed garlic time to sit before changing its temperature (through cooking) or its pH (through the addition of acidic food like lemon juice), it will give the alliinase enzymes in garlic an opportunity to work on behalf of your health.
Health Benefits of Garlic
- may help improve iron metabolism
- rich in powerful sulfur-containing compounds including thiosulfinates reliable source of selenium
- may help to regulate the number of fat cells that get formed in the body
- cardioprotective properties
- supports healthy blood triglycerides & total cholesterol
- supports healthy blood sugar
- protects from oxidative stress
- supports healthy blood pressure
- good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6 & manganese
- daily intake lowers risk of most cancers
- antibacterial & antiviral
- effective against yeast infections & clotting disorders
Roasted Garlic Recipe
Mix into mashed potatoes. Use in place of mayonnaise on your favorite healthy sandwich. Toss into steamed vegetables like broccoli. Add to creamy dressings, vinaigrettes, or dips.
- 1 pound garlic (6 to 8 heads, depending upon size)
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil or refined cold-pressed coconut oil or macadamia nut oil
Garlic will keep, refrigerated, up to 2 weeks.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a serrated knife, slice off top quarter of garlic heads, exposing as many cloves as possible. Arrange garlic heads, cut side up, in an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish (make sure garlic heads sit flat).
Season garlic with salt and pepper and sprinkle with thyme. Slowly pour oil over each head, letting it soak into and around cloves. Cover dish tightly with foil and roast until cloves are golden, completely soft, and begin to protrude slightly from skins, about 1 hour. Let stand until cool enough to handle.
From the bottom up, squeeze each head to push out cloves (peel skins from any completely enclosed cloves). Transfer garlic and cooking oil to an airtight container.