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Gaga for Garlic
April 19 is National Garlic Day and here at Juice Plus+, we are ready to celebrate the taste and health benefits of this miraculous bulb!
The smell of sautéing garlic wafting from the kitchen is usually a sign something delicious will follow. Cooks and diners alike love garlic for its bold, complex flavor, but garlic does more than just add taste to dishes-- it also supports your health in several key ways. In fact, many believe that a generous use of garlic, along with olive oil and tomatoes, may be part of the reason the Mediterranean diet is so healthy.
Garlic health benefits:
- Modestly reduces total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides
- Supports healthy blood clotting
- Reduces diastolic blood pressure
- May slow the progression of atherosclerosis
- Associated with reduced risk of gastric and colon cancer
Fortunately, you don’t have to eat whole bulbs of raw garlic to receive the health benefits of the vegetable. Consuming just a half a clove to a whole clove of garlic each day is all that’s needed for a cholesterol-lowering effect.
The way you prepare garlic matters though. The allyl sulfides, the active constituents of garlic, are stronger if you let the garlic rest for about ten minutes in between the time you crush or chop it and the time you cook it. Why? Breaking the cell wall triggers a series of chemical reactions that can be interrupted by cooking garlic too soon. Once the compounds are formed however, they survive cooking and freezing. Be sure to leave this time before using the garlic to reap maximum health benefits.
If garlic had a best friend, it might be tomatoes, which is another heart-healthy vegetable. Here’s a simple recipe for lightly cooked tomatoes with garlic and fresh herbs. You can serve it over whole-wheat pasta or polenta or just eat it plain as a stew—either way is delicious!
Another one of our favorite garlic-rich recipes is this tasty gazpacho. Served cold, gazpacho is great for when the weather warms up and is easily modified to fit your tastes. Filled with fruit and veggies, it’s also a great, healthy meal that the whole family will enjoy.
Lastly, this flavorful Garlic Hummus is a great snack that everyone will love. Filled with protein, it’s a healthy alternative to many premade snacks and will keep you feeling fuller longer. Customize with herbs or roasted red peppers and serve with cucumbers or celery for dipping.
Here at Juice Plus+, we love cooking with garlic because it imparts so much flavor with so little effort. There are so many ways to simply incorporate garlic into your favorite dishes-- try sautéing some spinach with olive oil and garlic for a simple side dish, adding a sprinkle for a brown rice topping, or even filling an omelet with a spoonful of sautéed garlic. Not only will it make your meals more tasty, but you’ll reap all the healthy benefits.
While most garlic is harvested in mid-summer, in the spring and early summer you can find garlic scapes at your local famers’ market. What are garlic scapes? They’re the sprouts garlic plants put up before the bulbs are ripe. If you’ve never tried them before, this delicious garlicky pesto or roasted asparagus recipe is the perfect introduction.
What’s your favorite way to incorporate garlic into your diet?
 Garlic and organosulfur compounds. Linus Pauling Institute. 2016. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/food-beverages/garlic
 Tapsell, LC et al. Health benefits of herbs and spices: the past, the present, the future. Med J Aust. 2006 Aug 21;185 (4 Suppl) S4-S24.
 Lawrence AZ. Health benefits of garlic. Chopping or crushing garlic and letting it rest before cooking may enhance its cancer-fighting properties. Eating Well. 2003 Fall. http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/immunity/health_benefits_of_garlic
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