Full of flavour and so many health benefits, this humble bulb is undoubtedly a storecupboard hero… stock up now!
Garlic has lots of health benefits – it is antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory to name a few!’
Most of us have this little bulb in our kitchens and use it for adding flavour to our cooking, but garlic has lots of health benefits and could technically be called an everyday superfood. It is antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory to name a few!
One of the key benefits and medicinal uses of garlic is in helping to lower blood pressure, whether you have high blood pressure already or not. There has also been research that shows how garlic can also have a positive effect on your cholesterol, helping to keep it in check. So if you currently suffer from, or are predisposed to cholesterol or heart problems because of family genetics, then definitely add garlic to your cooking as much as possible.
Garlic was actually used to treat gangrene during the World Wars, probably because of its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, and because one of the key biological components of garlic is a compound called allicin. These days, though, allicin, which is also found in garlic’s cousin the onion, can be used to help support your immune system and, according to research, may help to prevent certain cancers, such as stomach and colon.
The antibacterial properties of garlic also mean it helps to fight infections, and there has even been some evidence that it might help prevent food poisoning by killing bacteria, such as E. coli. One study even found that garlic was better at treating campylobacter, a bacteria commonly found in uncooked chicken, than two kinds of antibiotics and may be up to 100 times more effective!
In addition, garlic contains vitamin C, B6, selenium and manganese. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant so it also helps to protect your cholesterol from oxidation, the process that can cause damage to your blood vessels and arteries. As for B6, this vitamin will help prevent heart disease by lowering homocysteine, an amino acid that naturally occurs in your blood but can be dangerous when levels get too high. Selenium helps to protect your cells from damage, and manganese has many roles, including helping your body form connective tissue and bone, as well fat and carbohydrate metabolism.
The key to reaping the benefits of garlic is to aim for around two cloves a day and ensure that it’s chopped, crushed or pressed and then left for 60 seconds before cooking to release all of its benefits and flavour. Chopping the garlic and putting it straight into a heated pan or oven will destroy a lot of its goodness, as the oil and allicin needs to be released and the necessary chemical reactions started. So don’t be too tasty to get cooking immediately.
JUST ADD GARLIC…
GARLIC & SPINACH SOUP (serves 1)
Heat 1tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan and add ½ finely chopped onion and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Add 3 large handfuls of fresh spinach and 400ml vegetable stock and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Season to taste, blend with a hand blender and serve.
Finely chop 3 large garlic bulbs and place in a blender with 4tbsp olive oil, 4tbsp (total) pine nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and a large handful of fresh basil. Blend to a fine paste and stir in 150g finely grated Pecorino cheese. You can add more olive oil if it is too thick or dry. Serve over fresh pasta or with meats.
ROASTED GARLIC AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH HOUMOUS
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Cut a small butternut squash in half, remove the seeds, rub with olive oil and season. Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes until soft. About halfway through the cooking of the squash, rub a little olive oil over 2 bulbs of garlic (skin still on) and roast for 20-25 minutes beside the squash. When cooked, scoop the flesh out of the squash and peel the garlic cloves. Place in a blender along with the zest and juice of ½ lemon, and 2tbsp tahini. Blend until a smooth paste and season to taste before serving.
1 clove of garlic (3g) provides you with approximately: