Amazing Benefits of Garlic Through the Winter

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 11/21/2023

Why did grandma always insist on a hearty garlic soup when you had the sniffles? Turns out, she was onto something.

The humble garlic bulb - it's more than just a kitchen staple. For four millennia, garlic has been utilized as a health-enhancing superfood! From treating arthritis and colds in ancient times to being used as an antibiotic during World War II, this aromatic plant has done it all.

So, what makes garlic so powerful?

You'll discover that allicin – the sulfur compound responsible for its distinctive odor – is also behind many of its excellent benefits. We're talking broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity capable of tackling E. coli and anthrax!

And you know what's more? The quality of your garlic plays a huge role, too. How it's grown can significantly impact the amount of benefits you reap from it.

The Historical Use of Garlic for Health

Garlic, known scientifically as Allium sativum, has been a trusted ally in health for over 4,000 years. From the ancient Egyptians to modern-day herbalists, garlic's potent properties have been put to use.

Garlic's Ancient Roots

The history of garlic is long and rich. Sumerians utilized garlic as a potential cure for illnesses such as colds and arthritis around 2600 B.C.E., according to early records. Studies suggest that workers building the pyramids were given garlic daily for strength and endurance.

The Role of Garlic in World War II

In more recent times, during World War II, when traditional antibiotics were scarce or non-existent on the Russian front lines, soldiers turned to "Russian Penicillin," their nickname for crushed garlic poultices applied directly onto wounds.

This natural antibiotic helped many survive injuries that would otherwise be fatal. It's pretty fascinating.

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The Power of Allicin in Garlic

Garlic's potent smell and health benefits are primarily due to allicin, a sulfur compound. When you chop or crush garlic, an enzyme called alliinase is released, transforming the chemical alliin into allicin.

Allicin's Contribution to Garlic's Odor and Health Benefits

This transformation process gives garlic its distinctive aroma and contributes significantly to its medicinal properties. It’s like nature’s own pharmacy inside each clove.

Studies have shown that allicin has antimicrobial effects, meaning it can kill bacteria and other harmful organisms. This makes it incredibly beneficial for your overall well-being.

Research also hints that this remarkable compound could help lower cholesterol levels, support heart health, offer anti-cancer properties, and even keep common colds at bay.

Garlic's Immune-Boosting Properties

You might know garlic as a flavorful addition to your meals, but it's more than just a kitchen staple. Garlic has immune-boosting properties that can help you fend off common winter ailments.

Garlic's Broad-Spectrum Antimicrobial Activity

The secret weapon of garlic lies in its ability to combat various pathogens. It packs a punch against harmful bacteria like E.coli and MRSA, often linked with food poisoning and skin infections. Studies suggest that garlic even shows promise against anthrax.

This potent bulb doesn't stop there; it also holds antiviral, antifungal, and antiparasitic abilities. This means fewer colds, fungal infections, or parasitic invasions during the chilly season.

Strengthening the Immune System with Garlic

Did you know pesticides can dampen our immune system? But here comes garlic for the rescue. Research demonstrates that compounds in this culinary gem bind with organophosphates found in pesticides - effectively detoxifying them.

Thus, eating garlic helps safeguard your immunity from these hidden threats.

Quality Considerations When Choosing Garlic

When picking garlic, it's essential to consider the quality. This doesn't just refer to how fresh or pungent the bulbs are and their origin and production practices.

Understanding Global Garlic Production Practices

A whopping 80% of global garlic comes from China. But here's a surprising fact: this mass-produced garlic might be treated with bleach and other chemicals before reaching your local supermarket. It sounds shocking, right?

The truth is these practices can affect both taste and nutritional value. So you may want to give that cheap Chinese bulb a second thought next time.

You're probably wondering now - what should I choose then? A safer bet would be organically grown varieties or locally sourced ones if available. They may be pricier, but remember, you get what you pay for.

The Enhanced Benefits of Fermented Garlic

Fermentation elevates the health benefits of garlic, especially in black garlic and honey-fermented variants. This process boosts antioxidants, adds more nutrients, and even enhances flavor.

The Power of Fermented Black Garlic and Honey Fermented Garlic

Black garlic is a superstar among superfoods. The fermentation process increases its antioxidant content by almost double, making it a powerful ally for your immune system.

But let's not forget about honey-fermented garlic. Just like the black variant, this version also packs a nutritional punch. Honey naturally contains antimicrobial properties, which get infused into the cloves during fermentation - talk about teamwork.

So whether you add some black or honey-fermented variety into your diet – you're upping your game when protecting yourself against winter bugs.

Cooking with Garlic Without Losing Its Nutrients

Garlic, a culinary superstar, has been praised for its health benefits. But what happens when we cook it? Do we lose all those precious nutrients?

The good news is that the essential phytonutrients in garlic can withstand high temperatures. This means you can still reap the health benefits even from heated or powdered garlic.

Heat-Resistant Phytonutrients in Garlic

You might be surprised that some of these essential compounds are pretty resilient. At temperatures up to 212°F, these phytonutrients can remain intact for at least 20 minutes, preserving their health benefits even after cooking.

This allows us to enjoy the rich flavor of cooked garlic and get a boost for our immune system during the cold winter months. So add that extra clove into your soup without worrying about losing any nutritional value.

Probiotics and Keto Diet

Probiotics on a keto diet can be valuable for maintaining digestive health and overall well-being. The ketogenic diet, which is high in fats and low in carbohydrates, can sometimes lead to changes in the gut microbiome.

Probiotics, beneficial bacteria, can help restore and maintain a balanced gut flora during this dietary shift. They support digestive function and may reduce the risk of digestive discomfort commonly associated with keto diets.

Additionally, probiotics on keto may contribute to improved nutrient absorption, as they help break down food and make essential nutrients more bioavailable. This can be especially beneficial when following a diet restricting certain food groups.

If you're considering adding probiotics to your keto regimen, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian.

They can provide personalized guidance on the types and strains of probiotics that may suit your needs and help you achieve your health and dietary goals effectively.

Conclusion

Who knew the humble garlic bulb packed such a punch? Now you do!

This winter, make sure to tap into the immune-boosting benefits of garlic. From its ancient medicinal powerhouse roots to its broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, it's truly a superfood.

The key player? Allicin - is responsible for that distinct smell and has many health benefits. Remember this when cooking up your favorite warming dishes.

Quality matters, too! Be mindful of where your garlic comes from and how it’s grown – better quality means more goodness in every bite.

Consider fermented black garlic or honey fermented variety if you want an extra boost. So don't hold back on those cloves; they're doing more good than just flavoring your food!

Supporting Data

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1021949816301727

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