Updated: Apr 20, 2021
Garlic is a member of the lily or Allium family, which also includes onions and leeks. With their unique combination of flavonoids and sulfur-containing nutrients, allium vegetables belong in your diet on a regular basis.
Nutrient profile: Garlic is an excellent source of sulfur, manganese and vitamin B6. It is also a very good source of vitamin C and copper. In addition, garlic is a good source of selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B1, and calcium.
Moderate reduction in blood trigylcerides
Moderate reduction in total cholesterol
The sulfur compounds in garlic provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. These functions prevent oxidative damage which can prevent unwanted inflammation inour blood cells and blood vessels.
Lowers blood pressure
Lowers levels of homocysteine (homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls).
Antibacterial and Antiviral Benefits
Selection, Storage and Cooking: For maximum flavor and nutritional benefits, always purchase fresh garlic. Whole garlic bulbs will keep fresh for about a month if stored properly. Once you break the head of garlic, it greatly reduces its shelf life to just a few days. Garlic in flake, powder, or paste form may be more convenient, however you will derive less culinary and health benefits from these forms.
To increase the health benefits you receive from garlic, let it sit for at least 5 minutes after you have chopped or crushed it. This allows the allinase enzymes in garlic an opportunity to work and form allicin on behalf of your health.
It is best to add garlic towards the end of the cooking process to retain the maximum amount of flavor and nutrition. Expose garlic to heat for as little time as possible (5-15 minutes) in order to assure the activity of the health-promoting sulfur compounds. Too much heat will also make garlic bitter.
Recipe Suggestion: I use garlic on a daily basis because many dressings and sauces that I prepare call for garlic. I will always chop the garlic first and leave it on the side while I assemble the rest of the ingredients. This allows time for the enzyme allinase to activate and produce allicin. Here are 5 different salad dressings by Katie Morford from Mom's Kitchen Handbook. The first three recipes include garlic.