Garlic, Garlic and More Garlic

garlic-for-health

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

Those are famous words from the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, often called the father of Western medicine.

He actually used to prescribe garlic to treat a variety of medical conditions.

Well… modern science has recently confirmed many of these beneficial health effects.

Here are 11 health benefits of garlic that are supported by human research studies.

1. Garlic Contains a Compound Called Allicin, Which Has Potent Medicinal Properties

Garlic is a plant in the Allium (onion) family.

It is closely related to onions, shallots and leeks.

It grows in many parts of the world and is a popular ingredient in cooking due to its strong smell and delicious taste.

However, throughout ancient history, the main use of garlic was for its health and medicinal properties (1).

Its use was well documented by all the major civilizations… including the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and the Chinese (2).

2. Garlic Is Highly Nutritious, But Has Very Few Calories

Blonde With Onions, Garlic and Pepperoni

Calorie for calorie, garlic is incredibly nutritious.

A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of garlic contains (3):

  • Manganese: 23% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B6: 17% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin C: 15% of the RDA.
  • Selenium: 6% of the RDA.
  • Fiber: 1 gram.
  • Decent amounts of Calcium, Copper, Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron and Vitamin B1.

Garlic also contains trace amounts of various other nutrients. In fact, it contains a little bit of almost everything we need.

This is coming with 42 calories, with 1.8 grams of protein and 9 grams of carbs.

Bottom Line: Garlic is low in calories and very rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and Manganese. It also contains trace amounts of various other nutrients

3. Garlic Can Combat Sickness, Including the Common Cold

Garlic

Garlic supplementation is known to boost the function of the immune system.

One large 12-week study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63% compared with placebo (4).

The average length of cold symptoms was also reduced by 70%, from 5 days in placebo to just 1.5 days in the garlic group.

Another study found that a high dose of garlic extract (2.56 grams per day) can reduce the number of days sick with cold or flu by 61% (5).

If you often get colds, then adding garlic to your diet could be incredibly helpful.

Bottom Line: Garlic supplementation helps to prevent and reduce the severity of common illnesses like the flu and common cold.

4. The Active Compounds in Garlic Can Reduce Blood Pressure

 

Cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes are the world’s biggest killers.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the most important drivers of these diseases.

Human studies have found garlic supplementation to have a significant impact on reducing blood pressure in people with high blood pressure (678).

In one study, aged garlic extract at doses of 600-1,500 mg was just as effective as the drug Atenolol at reducing blood pressure over a 24 week period (9).

Supplement doses must be fairly high to have these desired effects. The amount of allicin needed is equivalent to about four cloves of garlic per day.

Bottom Line: High doses of garlic appear to improve blood pressure of those with known high blood pressure (hypertension). In some instances, supplementation can be as effective as regular medications.

5. Garlic Improves Cholesterol Levels, Which May Lower The Risk of Heart Disease

Heart and Stethoscope

Garlic can lower Total and LDL cholesterol.

For those with high cholesterol, garlic supplementation appears to reduce total and/or LDL cholesterol by about 10-15% (101112).

Looking at LDL (the “bad”) and HDL (the “good”) cholesterol specifically, garlic appears to lower LDL but has no reliable effect on HDL (6, 7, 13, 14, 15).

Garlic does not appear to lower triglyceride levels, another known risk factor for heart disease (10, 12).

Bottom Line: Garlic supplementation seems to reduce total and LDL cholesterol, particularly in those who have high cholesterol. HDL cholesterol and triglycerides do not seem to be affected.

6. Garlic Contains Antioxidants That May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Oxidative damage from free radicals contributes to the ageing process.

Garlic contains antioxidants that support the body’s protective mechanisms against oxidative damage (16) .

High doses of garlic supplementation have been shown to increase antioxidant enzymes in humans (5, 17), as well as significantly reduce oxidative stress in those with high blood pressure (6).

The combined effects on reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as the antioxidant properties, may help prevent common brain diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (17, 18).

Bottom Line: Garlic contains antioxidants that protect against cell damage and ageing. It may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

7. Garlic May Help You Live Longer

Purple Garlic

Effects on longevity are basically impossible to prove in humans.

But given the beneficial effects on important risk factors like blood pressure, it makes sense that garlic could help you live longer.

The fact that it can fight infectious disease is also an important factor, because these are common causes of death, especially in the elderly or people with dysfunctional immune systems.

Bottom Line: Garlic has known beneficial effects on common causes of chronic disease, so it makes perfect sense that it could help you live longer.

8. Athletic Performance Can be Improved With Garlic Supplementation

Dumbbells

Garlic was one of the earliest “performance enhancing” substances.

It was traditionally used in ancient cultures to reduce fatigue and enhance the work capacity of labourers.

Most notably, it was administered to Olympic athletes in ancient Greece (19).

Rodent studies have shown that garlic helps with exercise performance, but very few human studies have been done.

Subjects with heart disease that took garlic oil for 6 weeks had a reduction in peak heart rate of 12% and improved their exercise capacity (20).

However, a study on nine competitive cyclists found no performance benefits (21).

Other studies suggest that exercise-induced fatigue may be reduced with garlic (2).

Bottom Line: Garlic can improve physical performance in lab animals and people with heart disease. Benefits in healthy people are not yet conclusive.

9. Eating Garlic Can Help Detoxify Heavy Metals in the Body

At high doses, the sulfur compounds in garlic have been shown to protect against organ damage from heavy metal toxicity.

A four week study in employees of a car battery plant (excessive exposure to lead) found that garlic reduced lead levels in the blood by 19%. It also reduced many clinical signs of toxicity, including headaches and blood pressure (22).

Three doses of garlic each day even outperformed the drug D-penicillamine in symptom reduction.

Bottom Line: Garlic was shown to significantly reduce lead toxicity and related symptoms in one study.

10. Garlic May Improve Bone Health

Garlic Bulbs

No human trials have measured the effects of garlic on bone loss.

However, rodent studies have shown that it can minimise bone loss by increasing estrogen in females (23, 24, 25, 26).

One study in menopausal women found that a daily dose of dry garlic extract (equal to 2 grams of raw garlic) significantly decreased a marker of estrogen deficiency (27).

This suggests that this garlic may have beneficial effects on bone health in women.

Foods like garlic and onions have also been shown to have beneficial effects on osteoarthritis (28).

Bottom Line: Garlic appears to have some benefits for bone health by increasing estrogen levels in females, but more human studies are needed.

11. Garlic Is Easy to Include In Your Diet and Tastes Absolutely Delicious

 

The last one is not a health benefit, but still important.

It is the fact that it is very easy (and delicious) to include garlic in your current diet.

It complements most savory dishes, particularly soups and sauces. The strong taste of garlic can also add a punch to otherwise bland recipes.

Garlic comes in several 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, two or three times a day.

However, keep in mind that there are some downsides to garlic, such as bad breath. There are also some people who are allergic to it.

If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood thinning medications, then talk to your doctor before increasing your garlic consumption.

The active compound allicin only forms when garlic is crushed or cleaved when it is raw. If you cook it before crushing it, then it won’t have the same health effects.

Therefore, the best way to consume garlic is raw, or to crush and cut it and leave it out for a while before you add it to your recipes.

My favorite way to use garlic is to press a few cloves of fresh garlic with a garlic press, then mix with extra virgin olive oil and a bit of salt. This a healthy and super satisfying dressing.

11. Garlic Is Easy to Include In Your Diet and Tastes Absolutely Delicious

Housewife Cooking

The last one is not a health benefit, but still important.

It is the fact that it is very easy (and delicious) to include garlic in your current diet.

It complements most savory dishes, particularly soups and sauces. The strong taste of garlic can also add a punch to otherwise bland recipes.

Garlic comes in several 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, two or three times a day.

However, keep in mind that there are some downsides to garlic, such as bad breath. There are also some people who are allergic to it.

If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood thinning medications, then talk to your doctor before increasing your garlic consumption.

The active compound allicin only forms when garlic is crushed or cleaved when it is raw. If you cook it before crushing it, then it won’t have the same health effects.

Therefore, the best way to consume garlic is raw, or to crush and cut it and leave it out for a while before you add it to your recipes.

My favorite way to use garlic is to press a few cloves of fresh garlic with a garlic press, then mix with extra virgin olive oil and a bit of salt. This a healthy and super satisfying dressing.

November, 2015

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I’m Just Wild About Saffron

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Saffron is the stigma (the female organ) of an autumn flowering crocus (Crocus sativus). The stamen is the male organ that holds pollen, and it has no use in cooking.

Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice, with a street value on average of around A$20,000 per kilo. A double handful of saffron weighing about 1 kilo, will contain at least 200,000 stigmas. All these are painstakingly harvested by hand, from the back-breaking picking of each flower to the dextrous separation of the 3 stigmas.

The best grades of saffron are the whole stigma with the style removed. The style is the little pale thread that joins the 3 stigmas into the base of the flower. The style has flavour, but very little colour compared to the stigma.

Buyer Beware

Adulteration and falsifying saffron is a common practice globally, due to the high cost of the genuine article, making adulterers potentially rich. In the past various materials such as safflower petals, corn silk, coconut fibre, and even dyed shredded crocus petals were passed off as saffron.

However, today there is an even more insidious method being used to make false saffron. This clever fake is made of a soluable plastic, artifically coloured and flavoured, sometimes with sandalwood, in a vain attempt to mimic the woody notes of real saffron.

Just a pinch of fresh saffron is enough to enhance the flavor and color of the entire recipe.

There are several methods to use it in the kitchen. Whole stigma can be added directly to the preparations, or oftentimes, the threads are ground to paste using traditional mortar and pestle, and added to the recipes. In the third method, a pinch of saffron is added to a cup of hot water, steep; add this water to the recipes.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Saffron stigmas have been used as a flavoring base and coloring base in both food and drinks in Mediterranean, and Asian cuisines.
  • Popularly known as “kesar” in Indian subcontinent, it has been in use in the preparation rice-pulov, rice-pudding, “halwa” and other sweet dishes in many Indian, Pakistani, and Cental Asian countries. It is also used as a color and flavoring base in the preparation of kulfi, ice-creams, cakes and drinks.

The Truth About Wasabi

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WASABI

What’s the real deal with wasabi? The fact is that even if you think you love the stuff, you might have never truly tasted it. Sushi aficionados are probably very familiar with the green, spicy paste that’s served next to their favorite eel tempura or California roll, but the truth is many restaurants make fake wasabi and pass it off as the real thing.

What is wasabi?
Wasabi is a root that is in the same family as horseradish and mustard. All three of these plants provide a spicy, aromatic element to food and work to enhance flavor. However, wasabi is rarer than the other two herbs and can be extremely expensive. This is one of the reasons why most restaurants simply use horseradish and green food coloring to create a pseudo-wasabi. Wasabi is native to Japan, but even there the demand is too high to provide real wasabi for the population.

Cooking with wasabi
Wasabi is known to give fantastic flavor to sushi or fish, but it can also be a great addition to steak or any other meat entree. Wasabi has even been used to flavor limited edition beers. The wasabi root is where the most potent spice is, which is why it is utilized for creating the paste that accompanies sushi. The root must be grated immediately before it is used in the paste, because wasabi will lose its flavor in around 15 minutes. Wasabi is desirable because it generally has a smoother taste than horseradish and has a less intense aftertaste.

The leaves of the wasabi plant are good for salads, providing a spicier element than lettuce or cabbage. The stems of the wasabi plant, known as petioles, can be chopped up and used as a garnish in mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables or other dishes.

Online culinary courses are a great way to discover more ways to be creative with this delicious root.

The health benefits of real wasabi
In its native home Japan, wasabi is believed to have many medicinal qualities. Wasabi is a cruciferous vegetable, grouping it in the same healthy family as kale and cabbage. Wasabi is also considered a natural sanitizer, which is one of the reasons it complements sushi well. Certain health risks, such as food poisoning, are associated with raw fish, and wasabi helps eliminate potentially harmful germs.

The Spice of Life – A Different Spice Each Day

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BHUT JOLOKIA GHOST PEPPER FLAKES

Experience the taste of one million Scoville Units with Bhut Jolokia Ghost Pepper Chile Flakes. The Ghost Chile was recognized as the hottest pepper in the world in 2007 by Guinness Book of World Records. Make a bold statement at your next barbeque with this or Jolokia Rub on your roast, ribs, and even chicken. This colorful pepper is not just “hot” but also intense and flavorful. Be sure to add some Ground White Pepper for a home-made incendiary hot sauce that will not be forgotten. Serious lovers of heat shouldn’t pass up the chance to try this legendary pepper. Feel the heat with Bhut Jolokia Ghost Pepper Chile Flakes today.

The Spice of Life – A Different Spice Each Day

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AJI AMARILLO POWDER

Aji Amarillo powder is made from Aji Amarillo chiles. Aji Amarillo is also known as Aji escabeche. The Aji Amarillo is the most common chile in Peru. In the USA, it is sometimes referred to as the yellow chile or Peruvian chile. The pods are 4-5 inches long and deep orange in color when mature. The thin fleshed pods have a clearly pungent heat.Use on anything when you want to add a little heat and lots of flavor.

Usage:
Chile powders require no preparation. Add directly to recipes when a boost of flavor and heat are desired.

The Spice of Life – A Different Spice Each Day

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TUSCAN SEASONING

Tuscan Seasoning

Also Known As: Tuscan Spice or Tuscan Blend

Origin: Italian

Ingredients: Basil, Oregano, Red Bell Peppers, Garlic, Green Bell Peppers, Black Pepper, Fennel and Rosemary

Taste and Aroma: Rich, sweet, fresh and peppery.

Uses: All purpose blend great on pasta, chicken, vegetables, fish, salad and bread.

Substitutes: Italian Seasoning, Mediterranean Spice or Greek Seasoning

Fun Fact: It is appropriate that Tuscany, the origin of the renaissance movement, is responsible for this inspired spice blend!

The Spice of Life – A Different Spice Each Day

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WASABI

Wasabi is a plant of the Brassicaceae family, which includes cabbages, horseradish, and mustard. It is also called Japanese horseradish,[2] although horseradish is a different plant (which is often used as a substitute for wasabi). Its stem is used as a condiment and has an extremely strong pungency more akin hot mustard than the capsaicin in a chili pepper, producing vapours that stimulate the nasal passages more than the tongue. The plant grows naturally along stream beds in mountain river valleys in Japan. The two main cultivars in the marketplace are E. japonicum ‘Daruma’ and ‘Mazuma’, but there are many others.[3]

Wasabi is generally sold either as a stem, which must be very finely grated before use, as dried powder in large quantities, or as a ready-to-use paste in tubes similar to travel toothpaste tubes.[4] Because it grows mostly submerged, it is a common misconception to refer to the part used for wasabi as a root or sometimes even a rhizome: it is in fact the stem[5][6] of the plant, with the characteristic leaf scar where old leaves fell off or were collected.

In some high-end restaurants, the paste is prepared when the customer orders, and is made using a grater to grate the stem; once the paste is prepared, it loses flavour in 15 minutes if left uncovered.[7] In sushi preparation, sushi chefs usually put the wasabi between the fish and the rice because covering wasabi until served preserves its flavor.

Fresh wasabi leaves can be eaten, having the spicy flavor of wasabi stems.

Legumes (peanuts, soybeans, or peas) may be roasted or fried, then coated with wasabi powder mixed with sugar, salt, or oil and eaten as a crunchy snack.