The power and health benefits of garlic in the diet
Anecdotal evidence has long suggested that garlic is an incredibly powerful food, and many recent studies have backed up that evidence. The same compounds responsible for giving garlic its pungent aroma and strong flavor have been shown to help protect against some forms of cancer by neutralizing the power of cancer causing chemicals and slowing the growth of tumors.
The history of garlic
For many years natural health specialists and those interested in alternative medicine have thought of garlic as a kind of wonder drug. Garlic has been used, at one time or another to treat everything from the common cold to the plague. While not exactly a universal cure, garlic is thought to have significant healing powers. In general, the stronger the odor and flavor of the garlic clove, the greater its medicinal value is thought to be. That is because it is the same sulfur compounds that give garlic its strong flavor and odor that are also responsible for its healing power.
Many people feel that garlic which is grown organically has a stronger sulfur content, and for this reason many health enthusiasts swear by the power of organic garlic. Still others use garlic supplements to get the healing power of garlic without the unpleasant side effect of garlic breath.
The modern view of garlic
While garlic has long been part of traditional medicine and healthy eating, modern scientific studies are much newer. Those studies have shown promise, however, pointing to the powerful antibiotic properties of garlic, and even to its usefulness as a mosquito repellant.
While raw garlic can be quite a powerful food, it is important to know that it can also be extremely strong. Therefore, eating too much garlic can produce such unhealthy side effects as irritation or damage to the sensitive digestive tract. In addition, there are people who are allergic to garlic. While garlic allergies are rare, they can produce such symptoms as high temperature, headache and skin rashes. In addition, garlic acts as an anticoagulant (blood thinner), so it is important to avoid garlic supplements and foods rich in garlic prior to surgery. It is also important to keep your family doctor apprised of all medication, including garlic supplements, that you are taking.
What to look for
When buying garlic, it is usually best to buy the freshest, most pungent smelling cloves you can find. It is this strong smell that indicates a high concentration of sulfur compounds, and it is these sulfur compounds which are thought to be responsible for the healthful effects of garlic.
Garlic can be used in a variety of ways, from raw garlic added to salads to garlic cloves used in a wide variety of recipes. Of course it is important to buy healthy foods to go with your garlic, to enhance the healthful benefits and avoid the problems that come with a high fat diet.
For those who want to supplement the fresh garlic in their cooking, there are a variety of prepared garlic products and spices, including garlic salt and garlic powder. These products can be excellent companions to fresh garlic, but it is important to buy only the top quality brands to ensure quality and a high sulfur content.