“Let your food be your medicine, let your medicine be your food.” ~ Hippocrates

I Love Garlic!  I’m not going to deny it.  I really can’t get enough of it.  Honestly,  is there anyone alive who doesn’t love fresh homemade garlic bread right out of the oven?  Or the smell of garlic sautéing in a pan?  When I was a teenager I wouldn’t eat garlic because I was afraid of how my breath would smell.  I worried too much about everything back then.  That’s one of the beautiful things about getting older … you stop worrying so much about little things that don’t really matter.  It’s taken me a while but I’m finally learning to let go and just enjoy life and the things in life that make you happy.  For me, one of those things is garlic!  It’s one thing on a long list of things I’ve denied myself for years. Lucky for me, garlic is highly nutritious and has very few calories.

Nutrition

First, in case you didn’t already know, an entire head of garlic is called a bulb and each segment is called a clove.  There are about 10-20 cloves in a single bulb. Garlic comes in different forms from whole cloves and smooth pastes, to powders and supplements like garlic extract and garlic oil.  The minimum effective dose for therapeutic effects is one clove eaten with meals 2 or 3 times a day.

A 1-ounce serving of garlic contains the following percentages of the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) for the following:

  • Manganese:  23%
  • Vitamin B-6:  17%
  • Vitamin C:  15%
  • Selenium:  6%
  • Fiber:  0.6 Grams

Garlic also contains decent amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B-1.  In all, it contains a little bit of almost everything we need.

The health effects are caused by one of the sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed. This compound is called allicin and it is this that gives garlic its distinct aroma.

Health Benefits

  • Garlic helps to prevent and reduce the severity of common illnesses like the flu and common cold.
  • The Active Compounds in garlic can reduce blood pressure.
  • Garlic can lower total and LDL cholesterol levels which may lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Garlic contains antioxidants that protect against cell damage and aging which in turn may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
  • At high doses, the sulfur compounds in garlic have been shown to protect agains organ damage from heavy metal toxicity.
  • Garlic kills germs greatly reducing the possibility of wound infections.  Because of these findings garlic was used extensively as an antiseptic and dysentery cure during both World Wars.

It’s important to mention that if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood thinning medications because there is a possibility that it could increase the risk of bleeding.  Garlic might prolong bleeding and should not be taken for 2 weeks prior to a scheduled surgery.  Talk to your doctor before increasing your garlic consumption.

History

Garlic has been used since the beginning of recorded history and was found in the Egyptian pyramids and ancient Greek temples.  It is one of the oldest known horticultural crops in the Old World. Ancient medical texts from Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, and India each prescribed medical applications for garlic.  Amazingly, cultures and civilizations that never came in contact with one another cam to many of the same conclusions about the role of garlic in the treatment of diseases.

Superstitions & Folklore

European folklore gives garlic the ability to ward off the “evil eye”.  Central Europeans believed that it warded off devils, werewolves and vampires. To ward off vampires, garlic would be worn on one’s person, hung in windows, or rubbed on chimneys and keyholes.

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When diseases caused by mosquito bites were considered the “touch of the vampire,” garlic came in handy as a mosquito repellent.

Greek midwives would hang garlic cloves in birthing rooms to keep evil spirits away.

Dreaming that there is “garlic in the house” means good luck.  To dream of “eating garlic” means you will discover hidden secrets.

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