Garlic: cloves of power and might

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Love it or hate it, garlic is certainly a strong and powerful little plant. While we most often use it for fun and flavour in the kitchen, since Ancient Egypt it has been used for medicinal as well as culinary purposes, its potent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties making it a go-to cure and preventative for a variety of and illnesses. And it is about this time of year when the oh so tedious cold threatens at every turn and a clove a day can help stave this off. So listen up and learn some more about your faithful kitchen companion.

Like its cousin the onion, garlic is packed with bioflavanoids and sulphuric compounds (effect: your eyes smart incessantly) and the main one in garlic, called allicin, is a particularly effective natural antibiotic – about one-fiftieth as powerful as penicillin. Allicin also has anti-fungal and anti-viral properties – but it’s only present in raw garlic so eating it freshly crushed or chopped gives you the best dose. I chop a clove up and shove it down with some water, every morning in winter, or whenever I feel something contagious or sore throat-ish might be lurking round the corner. Parsley and cardamom are good antidotes to the inevitable garlic breath, or you can do what Ben does and have a good garlicky breakfast, problem solved.

It also contains manganese, B6, vitamin C, tryptophan, calcium, phosphorus, copper, B1, protein, as well as the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, and more of the antioxidant mineral selenium than any other plant. We need selenium for thyroid hormone regulation and to maintain a healthy immune system.

And recently, browsing a HuffPost blog on the healing powers of onions and garlic by integrative doctor Leo Galland, I read that “a study conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that eating a teaspoon of fresh garlic and a half cup of onions per day increases the levels of a key enzyme for removing toxins in the blood cells of healthy women. The authors of this study believed that men would require a higher dose on average for the same effect, because of their larger body size”. Not to generalise about male and female body size…

There is a tonne of fascinating ongoing research out there to do with allicin, garlic, detoxifying and cancer reduction, but this concise article is a good place to start – and Leo Galland is a total dude.

Make friends with your daily clove and see what it can do for you.

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