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Great Garlic

Cal Orey

Garlic can help you to guard your immune system and ward off colds, flu, and viruses.

One trip to Anchorage, Alaska in December on the night before flying home, I felt a cold coming on. I ordered artisan Greek vegetarian garlic pizza. I sipped herbal tea while savoring bits of fresh garlic, tomatoes, and olives. I scheduled my flight later to get a good night’s sleep. I did not get sick. I give credit to the garlic, nature’s cure that protected me like it is believed to have done in the Middle Ages when people used the herb to fight the bubonic plague.  

Essential compounds in garlic are well, essential. One important ingredient from garlic is Allicin which is a heart healthy treasure and also found in the other vegetable–onion. Another compound worth noting is diallyl disulfide which is in the anti-cancer lock box. Its plentiful list of ingredients makes this herb antimicrobial, antiviral, heart healthy, and a cancer fighter, tool.

Garlic may not make the grade as a super nutrient-dense herb. But that does not mean antioxidant-rich garlic is unhealthy! Like vinegar and olive oil, remarkable garlic deserves its own book!  Here, take a glance at about three-and-a-half ounces of garlic, from the United States Department of Agriculture: Water 61%, carbohydrate 30.8 grams, protein 6.2 grams, dietary fiber 1.5 grams, fat 0.2 grams, potassium 259 milligrams, phosphorus 202 milligrams, calcium 29 milligrams, sodium 19 milligrams, iron 1.5 milligrams, and ascorbic acid 15 milligrams.

Groundbreaking discoveries

Garlic is known as the heart-healthy herb, thanks to its compounds, especially sulfur. Stacks of studies, past and present, show it can help keep the numbers in check for blood pressure, cholesterol, and lower the odds of heart attacks and strokes.

Also, garlic is an immune system booster, which may lower your risk of developing cancer. University of Buffalo and the University of Puerto Rico researchers say that garlic and onions may reduce the odds of developing breast cancer by 67 percent. Lead researcher Gauri Desai pointed out that Puerto Rico has lower breast cancer numbers, comparted to America. In the journal Nutrition and Cancer, he emphasized women in Puerto Rico consume more garlic and onion, two ingredients in the condiment sofrito, which is used in bean and rice dishes. 

Bountiful Benefits:  Holistic doctors believe in the healing powers of garlic, too. Herbal expert Alan Keith Tillotson, R.H., Lac, Ph.D., of Chrysalis Natural Medicine Clinic, Wilmington, Delaware, told me: “I personally use fresh garlic almost every day on my raw salad. I take extra if traveling in closed spaces like airplanes–in that case I use a garlic capsule,” And that takes us full circle because it is known that garlic contains antiviral compounds. 

Shake It Up Now:  Garlic is a popular culinary herb in a variety of dishes.  My personal favorite is sautéing the cloves to give it a mellow flavor in stir-fries and herby Italian sauces. I eat garlic when I am traveling. 

Garlic is available in many forms, from chopped fresh cloves to minced, ground powder, and in spice blends. Capsules contain the active ingredient allicin. It can be consumed and used topically.  

Safety Sound Bite: Do not consume more than two cloves of raw garlic daily. If you overindulge, the consequences can be digestive problems, such as heartburn or acid reflux, and flatulence. Remember, less is more.

Immune-Boosting

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Pasta with Garlic and Tomatoes

Pasta with garlic and tomatoes is an Italian dish that can be made quickly.  Make sure to use your favorite extra virgin olive oil for it. This recipe is easy on the budget. Two favorite herbs—garlic and parsley—make it a perfect dish for any time year-round. It is a fail-proof recipe which can be used for a side dish or a light meal. 

  • ¾ pound of spaghetti, cooked
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 cup Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Marjoram or basil for garnish
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add pasta and salt. (Italian chefs recommend salting the water to the salinity of sea water.)  Cook pasta, several minutes, until al dente (not overcooked). Drain. Do not rinse. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over low heat, then add garlic and sauté, do not overcook. Stir-fry tomatoes in same pan. Transfer drained pasta to warm serving bowl. Add the garlic and tomatoes to pasta. Toss. Top with cheese. 
  • Makes 4 servings.

HEALING HIGHLIGHTS FROM NATURE’S GARDEN-FEST

  • Garlic has been appreciated for more than 5,000 years. Sure, its origin goes back to Asia but it was also cultivated and used in ancient Europe.
  • This Mediterranean herb contains a mega amount of antioxidants which provide more health benefits than its vitamins and minerals.
  • Not only is garlic heart-healthy due to its disease-fighting compounds, it also has immune-enhancing properties…
  • …It’s these ingredients such as allicin in garlic that may help to guard against viral infections, including colds and flu.
  • Garlic can be consumed raw or cooked and enjoyed for its aroma, flavor, and health benefits…
  • Ask everyday people what their favorite edible herb is and more than likely garlic will be on the top of their must-have list—including mine!
  • … But amazingly, garlic is also used topically which provides many benefits to help heal skin infections and inflammation.

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Adapted from – The Healing Powers of Herbs & Spices: A Complete Guide to Nature’s Timeless Treasures, Kensington.

Warm_up_5-CalCal Orey, M.A. is an accomplished author and journalist specializing in topics such as health, science, pets, and relationships. Her hugely successful Healing Powers book series include: The Healing Powers of Honey, The Healing Powers of Chocolate, The Healing Powers of Coffee, and The Healing Powers of Vinegar. She lives in Northern California. www.calorey.com

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