Garlic, also known as the ‘stinking rose,’ has long been used to add flavor to food and treat a variety of ailments. Whether you are a garlic enthusiast, or perhaps hesitant to get carried away with this aromatic ingredient, you are sure to be inspired to find more ways to add this flavorful bulb to more of your family’s favorite dishes.
Even as the Egyptians were constructing the pyramids, people were cultivating garlic for use as food and medicine. Over the centuries it has been used for everything from a way to prevent plague to an antiseptic in wounds, while today it is used to help prevent heart disease and boost the immune system.
Garlic’s Health-Boosting Properties
Allicin, the source of garlic’s smell, is the compound responsible for many of its health benefits. Research has shown it helps prevent atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries – and reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke. Other heart health benefits include the lowering of blood pressure and high cholesterol. Additional research has suggested that eating garlic may reduce your risk of colon cancer, rectal cancer and prostate cancer.
Garlic’s antibacterial and antifungal properties are effective in boosting the immune system and treating various skin conditions including ringworm, jock itch and athlete’s foot. These properties come from a chemical called ajoene, which is released when garlic is crushed or minced. Take advantage of these health benefits by adding more garlic to your diet if you feel yourself coming down with a cold, or applying sliced garlic directly to topical irritations such as acne or mild rashes.
Not only is garlic great for your health, it also has local ties to northern Nevada. While many tout Gilroy, Calif. as the garlic capital of the United States, Nevada is actually second in the nation in its production of garlic seed (California tops the list and Oregon comes in at a close third). Look for locally grown garlic at your favorite farmers market this spring and summer.
Garlic is perfect in a number of dishes – soups and stews, or sautéed and tossed with whole wheat pasta. We love this Lemon, Garlic & Herb Baked Cod dish, which is ready in 20 minutes — making it an excellent weeknight dinner option.
So next time a recipe calls for garlic, feel free to add a little extra! Not only will it give the flavor an extra kick, but your health will benefit as well.