Garlic with its Extraordinary Properties
Garlic, with its extraordinary properties, is one of the few ingredients that are present in the cuisine of all cultures throughout the world. And it’s no coincidence, as it gives our dishes a distinctive and delicious flavor and contributes with its healthy nutritional benefits.
Garlic is native to Western Asia and has been cultivated for over 7000 years. It consists of a bulb or head of 6 to 12 cloves. It belongs to Liliaceae’s botanical family, which includes other fragrant plants such as onions, leeks, and chives.
To make the most of the garlic properties, it should be eaten crushed or chewed, not fried or cooked. However, there are opinions that say that it keeps its properties after the cooking process. Nevertheless, it is preferable to take garlic raw and on an empty stomach from a medicinal point of view.
The Health Benefits of Garlic
The benefits are mainly attributed to some of its sulfur compounds. It has a substance derived from sulfur, called alliin.
When garlic is minced, chopped, or crushed, the alliin is converted into allicin and released, producing its characteristic aroma. Allicin, in its natural state, that is, in raw garlic, is how it preserves its main properties.
This substance can also increase expectoration, so it can be used as an excellent expectorant in catarrhal, flu or allergic processes such as bronchial asthma, in addition to increasing the body’s defenses.
Allicin is an ally of proper circulation since it reduces the coagulation of the blood. It is useful for people with a tendency to form blood clots. For this reason, its use should be suspended before any surgical intervention or dental extraction.
Nutritional Benefits of Garlic
The active components of garlic are glutamic acid, arginine, aspartic acid, leucine, lysine, and valine. Its principal minerals are manganese, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus, and in smaller quantities, magnesium, selenium, sodium, iron, zinc, and copper.
It contains vitamin B6, C, and in smaller quantities, folic acid, pantothenic and niacin, vitamin A and vitamin E.
Other garlic properties are that it is low in calories, rich in nutrients, and very aromatic. For these reasons, garlic is an excellent choice for flavoring foods. This can reduce the use of other ingredients that are not as healthy as salt, thus reducing sodium intake.
Garlic has been beneficially associated with cardiovascular disease due to its ability to dilate or widen capillaries and help the blood flow in high blood pressure conditions.
Its content in sulfur compounds helps improve blood circulation because it reduces the blockage of the arteries and platelet aggregation due to a compound it has: adenosine.
Garlic helps reduce the so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol and blood triglycerides and raise the ‘good’ one. So it can be useful in processes of hypercholesterolemia or hypertriglyceridemia. It also has a particular hypoglycemic effect, helping to prevent and control type II diabetes mellitus.
According to recent studies, garlic is beneficial in preventing cancer, including gastric and colon cancer. Protection is due to its ability to inhibit the formation and activation of cancer-causing inducers such as nitrosamines, helping to repair cellular genetic material and improving the individual’s defenses.
Garlic is an effective natural remedy to combat fungi such as Candida albicans and has a diuretic effect, as it prevents fluid retention due to its contribution to potassium.
Another great benefit is its analgesic action and can be useful in preventing or improving hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
Externally, it can be used to cure animal bites or stings, especially insects, as a disinfectant for most skin conditions such as fungus, wounds, sores, and burns. For all these reasons, garlic can be considered a medicinal plant.
As for the garlic breath produced by eating it, it is possible to avoid it by drinking pure lemon juice, rinsing your mouth with a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in water, chewing a sprig of parsley or eating something sweet.
Garlic is a key ally of food safety, as it is a powerful disinfectant against some of the microorganisms that cause the most common food poisoning, such as Campylobacter.
It is better to buy the whole bulb, as its presentation in powder or paste lacks the valuable nutrients of this great seasoning.
Garlic can be used as a dressing for salads, soups, cheeses, meats, pasta, and vegetables. Slices of bread or pans can be rubbed with a peeled garlic clove to add flavor.
In dishes such as fish, chicken, meat, or potatoes that require more time to cook, it is advised to add the garlic at the end of cooking because if it is overcooked, it acquires a bitter taste.
For better preservation, it is recommended to keep the bulb in a cool, dark place to prevent it from drying out, so it can last for several weeks without suffering any degradation.
At the time of purchase, the bulbs should feel firm and with dry skin. Once the cloves are separated from the bulb, they last approximately ten days.
Delicious and Healthy Recipes Cooked with Garlic
Salmon Fillet with Garlic Mustard Sauce
4 salmon fillets without skin
3 teaspoons of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon of honey
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
Salt and white pepper to taste
- In a frying pan, seal the seasoned salmon fillets with salt and pepper in olive oil until you get a golden crust on both sides.
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a bowl, mix the cornstarch with the whipping cream. Gradually add the Dijon mustard and honey. Set aside.
- In the same pan where you sealed the salmon, fry the garlic over medium heat. When it starts to color, add the chicken broth.
- Bring to a boil and reduce for 5 minutes.
- Add the mustard, honey, and cornstarch mixture to the reduced broth.
- When it begins to boil, remove from the heat.
- Add the salmon to the pan with the sauce, add the fresh dill over it, and it is ready to serve.
Garlic Mojo Shrimp
1/3 cup of butter
1/4 cup of virgin olive oil
2 pounds of medium-sized shrimp
2 heads of garlic
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
- Peel the garlic set aside 4 cloves and blend the rest with half the butter and olive oil, together with the vinegar, salt, and pepper until you get a smooth paste.
- In a saucepan, cook the garlic paste and add the shrimp with the rest of the butter.
- Cover the pan and let it cook for a few minutes until the shrimp changes color.
- Meanwhile, fry the 4 reserved garlic cloves in a pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until golden brown without burning.
- Add the garlic and parsley to the shrimp and let it cook for two more minutes.
Potatoes with Aioli Sauce
2 pounds of chopped potatoes
1 quart of cooking oil
1 tablespoon of paprika
1 medium head of garlic
3/4 cup of olive oil
Salt to taste
- Cut the potatoes into one-inch chunks and confit over low heat in cooking oil until they are soft and have a golden crust.
- Remove from the heat, drain and season the potatoes with salt and paprika.
- In a food processor, add the chopped garlic and salt.
- Add the olive oil steadily but slowly as you mix everything.
- When you get a mixture of a consistency similar to mayonnaise, it is ready.
- Serve the potatoes on a platter and cover them with the aioli.