The health benefits of garlic and how to cook with it

Throughout ancient history the main use of garlic was for medicine.

Garlic is a bit like marmite, vampires aside it seems that people either love it and add it to everything or hate it. My favourite use of garlic is making garlic mushrooms on toast for a fancy (well more fancy than granola) breakfast or quick lunch. Usually its the things you put with garlic that make a dish healthy or unhealthy, garlic prawns with tonnes of butter and cream (a Jess special) is a gorgeous dish but best to have once in a while. But garlic itself is actually really good for you! 

Here are some health benefits of garlic: 

1.Garlic contains compounds with potent medical properties. Throughout ancient history the main use of garlic was for medicine. Its use was well documented by ancient egyptians, greeks, romans and chinese. Many of its health benefits stem from the high amounts of sulphur. 

2.Garlic is highly nutritious by has very few calories. One clove contains 2% RDA of Maganese and Vitamin B6 including high amounts go Calcium, Copper, Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron and Vitamin B1.

3.Garlic combats the common cold. Garlic supplements are 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 to a placebo. The average length of the common cold was also reduced by 70% 

4.The active compounds in garlic can reduce blood pressure. In one study, 600-1,500mg of aged garlic extract was just as effective as the drug Atenolol at reducing blood pressure over a 24 week period 

5.Garlic improves cholesterol levels, which may lower the risk of heart disease. By reducing the total and or LDL cholesterol by about 10-15% (maybe not the same results if paired with a tonne of cream and butter…)   

Three ways to cook a big batch of garlic

Oven-roasted heads of garlic, or individual cloves either simmered in oil or stewed in water or stock, are not only delicious on their own but also a handy ingredient to have on hand. Cooked cloves keep for about a week in the refrigerator.

Roast: Whole fresh garlic, with its high moisture content, is the best for roasting. Remove loose outer skins from the head and cut off the top to expose the cloves. Set in a baking dish or on foil, drizzle with olive oil, and roast at 350°F until tender, about 45 minutes. Squeeze the cloves out when they’re cool enough to handle. You can also break apart garlic heads and roast individual cloves this way, too.

Simmer: My favourite way of cooking garlic is simmering it in olive oil, because it yields soft, buttery cloves and a bonus of garlic-infused oil. Put whole peeled cloves in a small heavy pan, add olive oil to cover, and simmer very gently over low heat until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Stew: Try baking or simmering unpeeled garlic cloves in a mixture of water or stock, oil and spices, covered, until tender. Peel and use the cloves as needed, or puree them all at once in a food mill, discarding the skins. This method yields garlic with a slightly more assertive, less mellow flavour.


Sources: Unsplash Anshua A(images)

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