By Sarah Spinner, Phase I Fellow
I thought I would never want to see or smell garlic again… but of course I do, garlic is great.
On Monday, we harvested, bundled, and hung over 387 pounds of garlic. Hanging up all that garlic had me questioning just how anyone could use THIS much garlic. With my background and interest in nutrition that always has me thinking about the health benefits our food possesses, I started thinking about the health benefits of garlic.
Many of us know the age-old tale of using garlic to fend off a cold, but why is that?
The scientific validity of using garlic as a cold remedy is still a bit hazy, but it can likely be attributed to its anti-microbial, antibiotic properties. Allicin, the sulfur component in garlic, contributes to these properties and gives garlic its famous pungent scent. Garlic is also known to boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and improve heart health. Garlic also possesses anti-cancerous properties. Its ability to reduce the risk of developing oral, stomach, esophageal, colon, and prostate cancers has been widely researched.
Garlic has been used to treat and prevent disease since the beginning of time. It is one of the earliest documented plants to be used medicinally. It has been referenced in the Bible and other ancient texts from many different cultures, predominately Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, and India. It was used to treat many different ailments and commonly used to increase strength. Garlic was even known to be used by Greek Olympic athletes to enhance their performance. Recent research continues to confirm many historic garlic benefits and remedies.
The allicin in garlic must be activated to access these health benefits. This can happen by chewing, crushing, or cutting the garlic while it is raw and then letting it sit for at least 10 minutes before putting it on heat. The rest period has to do with the interaction of enzymes. When cooking with garlic, it is best to keep it under 140 degrees, as exceeding this point can kill the allicin.
And, as with most things, it is always best to consume garlic through your diet rather than supplementation.
So, the next time you have an extra 387 pounds of garlic, don’t be afraid to add a few extra cloves to your meals or fend off some vampires!