Humanity has been friends with garlic for thousands of years. The earliest evidence of its use goes all the way back five thousand years ago. While it originated in Central Asia, it’s become a global staple that is essential in most cuisines around the world. So many ancient peoples, from the Greeks to the Romans to the Egyptians to the Indians and, of course, the Chinese, used garlic on a regular basis.
Not only was garlic an essential ingredient in many dishes, but it also carried very important religious and spiritual significance to many of the cultures in the past. Garlic has been used across Europe and Africa, for example, as a way to ward off evil spirits. In the Middle Ages, it was used to ward off the plague and disease. One of the most fun interpretations of this core belief was the use of garlic to ward off vampires.
While most won’t use garlic as a spiritual guard nowadays, that doesn’t mean it’s not any less prevalent in everyday life. Garlic is one of the best aromatic and flavor-boosters in any culinary dish. The right amount of garlic adds a delicious richness and luxury to anything from meats to soups to vegetables.
While its taste is renowned, many don’t actually know the exact health benefits packed into each tiny bulb. If you’ve ever been curious about what eating garlic does for you, look no further than this post.
Top Health Benefits of Garlic
There are so many great health benefits of garlic, meaning you can rest easy knowing that adding this top-rated ingredient to your dishes is doing so much more for your body than improving just the taste of your food.
One of the biggest health benefits of garlic (and probably why so many believed it could ward off disease) is that it’s full of immunity-boosting compounds like allicin, organosulfur, and fructans.
- Allicin is the main active compound in garlic, and it’s released when you either crush it or when you chew it. Allicin itself is full of antimicrobial and antiviral compounds, which work to boost the production and effectiveness of your white blood cells.
- Organosulfur are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant boosters, which both work to help boost your immunity and reduce the risk of viral infections in the first place.
- Then, finally, there are fructans. Fructans are a carbohydrate, but they’re of specific interest to the microbiome in the gut. By feeding your digestive system gut-friendly foods like garlic, you can improve your ability to process foods, which in turn can also help boost your immune system.
Lowers Inflammation in the Body
Those organosulfur elements in garlic work to lower the inflammation in the body. Inflammation can cause a host of issues and isn’t always going to be obvious from the inside like inflammation caused by an injury might be. By working to reduce inflammation in the body, your entire system can flourish. Two of the areas that anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant products can help you is with your heart health.
Protect Your Brain
Garlic is full of compounds that work to reduce oxidative stress. Combined with those anti-inflammatory properties, it can help boost your brain health. Eating garlic, then, may even help reduce your risk of developing concerns like Alzheimer’s disease.
Nutrient Rich for Happy Health
Garlic is full of many nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese. Vitamin C works to boost your immune system, helps you heal faster after an injury, and can even boost collagen production. B6 is essential in over a hundred different enzyme activities in the body. You’ll need that B6 to digest, extract energy from your food, and even synthesize neurotransmitters. Manganese is used by your bones, regulates blood sugar, and is another key anti-oxidant that gives garlic all its health-boosting power.
How to Easily Add More Garlic to Your Dishes
There are so many easy and effective ways to add garlic to your dishes. You can use a variety of fresh garlic methods if you’re cooking for yourself or for a small collection of customers, or you can use dried bulk garlic to flavor and boost dishes on a large scale. If you’re looking for inspiration on how to add more garlic, check out these top tips:
1. Roast Garlic
Roasting garlic is such an easy, effective way to take away the sharp bite of raw garlic and bring out those delicious flavors. You can roast your garlic either by simply cooking the cloves in with the rest of your dish, or you can roast a whole garlic head by chopping off the tip and drizzling it with some oil. You want the garlic to be soft and like butter.
2. Confit Garlic
Another way to cook your garlic to be used as a spread is to confit it. This means you slowly cook the garlic in a bath of olive oil or other similar oil. By slowly cooking it in oil, it turns into a buttery consistency. You can even store that garlic oil mixture by jarring it. As a bonus, you’ll also end up with garlic-flavored oil you can use to drizzle on salads and various other dishes.
3. Dice Garlic
Dicing garlic is a great way to quickly add garlic to a host of pan-fried or sauteed dishes. You can slice the garlic, dice it small, and so on. To release that allicin, do keep in mind you want to smash the garlic first before cutting it, as this will release that compound best.
4. Pickle Garlic
Pickled garlic is full of flavor and is a great topping for a host of dishes. You can either buy that garlic already pickled, or you can pickle it yourself right at home. Pickling garlic adds a bite to the garlic that’s different from the rawness of uncooked garlic so that you can get that kick without the same bad breath experience.
5. Blend Garlic
If you want to add delicious garlic flavors to your sauce or soup, mix it or cook it directly with the rest of your ingredients, then blend it all together. This will give you the best range of flavor.