Garlic might just be the secret unsung hero of the health food world. Not only does garlic contain powerful antioxidants, it also has anticancer, antibacterial, antiviral and anticlotting properties. It is extremely easy to grow and a staple ingredient in many recipes. Raw garlic can even be rubbed on bug bites! What is most unbelievable is how overlooked this vegetable of the allium family is. While health-conscious people are constantly focused on the super foods du jour such as kale, avocados or chia seeds, they often forget about the simple, unsexy (bad breath is an unfortunate effect) and underutilized clove of garlic.
According to Jo Robinson of Eating on the Wild Side, garlic has been used medicinally for thousands of years to treat wounds prior to the advent of penicillin. It also was consumed in order to fight off colds, sore throats and the flu. Recent studies have shown it to be effective in promoting cardiovascular health. Unlike longterm and repeated antibiotic use, our bodies do not develop a resistance to garlic. (To be clear, I am not suggesting that you don’t take antibiotics and you should always consult your doctor for ANY medical issue.) Last but not least, garlic was shown to block “100% of the growth of human cancers of the stomach, pancreas, breast, prostate, lungs, kidneys and brain” in a Canadian study highlighted in Robinson’s book.
The best way to eat garlic? Raw or cooked are both fine as long as you follow these rules. If eating raw, press the cloves in a garlic press for the greatness to be fully released. Slicing, mashing or chopping is ok too, but pressing rules when it comes to getting the most health benefits out of your garlic. If cooking garlic, once it is prepped, let it sit for about 10 minutes. This is absolutely necessary prior to heating it. If you heat garlic right away, you’re losing one of its important enzymes.
Trying to grow your own garlic? It’s a simple as planting a clove in the fall, about a month and a half before the first frost. I tried it for the first time and it was a success. However, do not attempt this with supermarket garlic. Order your garlic from a seed catalogue or purchase from a nursery or farmer’s market. Or you can do what I did and have a friend give you a head from their own garden-grown garlic. You’ll need to separate the cloves, but leave the skins on. Plant each clove separately in good soil with the pointed end facing up. Let it sit through the winter and early spring with a layer of mulch (or in my case, leaves did just fine). You’ll know when to pick when the lower leaves start to brown. It’s really that simple. For more growing tips, click here.
Interested in trying garlic the next time you feel a cold or flu coming on? Here’s a recipe for a garlic-infused tea that I often use:
Garlic for Good Health Ingredients
- 1 peppermint tea bag
- 1 clove raw garlic, pressed (let sit for 10 minutes after pressing)
- 1/2 lemon squeezed
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon raw honey
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
In a tea cup, add garlic and peppermint tea bag. Pour boiling water over. Add in remaining ingredients and steep, covered for 5 to 10 minutes. Drink tea and eat the garlic!