Garlic has a reputation for warding off vampire attacks, but its real superpowers are in the many extraordinary ways it protects our health. The pungent herb helps reduce your risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases, viruses and infections, and even cancer, according to a 2014 report by the National Institutes of Health. Keep reading to learn more about garlic benefits and how they can help your health and amp up the flavor in the kitchen.
When you eat garlic, you also get a concentrated dose of vitamins and minerals—just one of the . Better yet, it instantly jacks up the taste of many dishes, making them extra savory and so much more satisfying. Now here’s the best part: Garlic is a Free Food for everyone on a Nutrisystem weight loss plan, meaning you can eat as much of it as you want without slowing progress to your goal.
Ready to get this superfood working for you and learn even more about the many garlic benefits? Here are the details on why and how to get more garlic in your diet:
A bulb (or head) of garlic has about 10 to 12 cloves—yet another one of the garlic benefits. Three of those cloves are enough to add a distinctly zesty flavor to your favorite meals. With those three cloves, you get 15 percent of your RDA for vitamin C and 17 percent of your daily need for vitamin B-6, which your body uses to metabolize protein and fats. A serving of garlic also provides you with significant amounts of vital minerals, such as calcium, potassium, iron, selenium and phosphorus.
Garlic, a member of the allium family of plants that includes onions, shallots and leeks, contains a potent compound known as allicin. It’s the source of the familiar garlic odor and taste. Just as important, allicin has been identified as a major contributor to the garlic benefits that assist in the health department.
Researchers who reviewed all of the credible scientific studies of garlic and allicin concluded that regular consumption of the herb helps reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels and lessen the risk of suffering from the heart disease known as atherosclerosis. They also found that garlic has a variety of anti-tumor effects, including “tumor cell growth inhibition.”
Garlic acts as a natural anti-viral, helping to diminish the incidence and severity of colds, influenza (the flu) and other contagious viruses. It has also proven to be effective at preventing staph infections, salmonella and many different types of problems caused by destructive bacteria.
When shopping, choose fresh garlic bulbs that feel heavy and solid in your hand. The outer wrapper should be dry, papery and enclose the entire bulb. The cloves inside are typically yellowish-white, but some varieties may have reddish or purplish streaks. They all taste essentially the same and have no nutritional differences.
Garlic keeps for weeks in a cool, dry place in your kitchen. It’s easy to prepare, too. Just check out this short video on how to peel it simply and quickly.>
You may see jars of minced garlic in stores, often packed in water. While pre-chopped garlic may seem like a time saver, the flavor and aroma is much weaker than fresh garlic. Jarred brands may also have been bleached or treated with preservatives to keep the garlic looking bright on store shelves.
If you want to add a shot of garlic taste to your meal when you’re in a rush or have none on hand, you can use garlic powder, which is simply dried and pulverized cloves. Keep in mind that a quarter teaspoon of powder has about the same flavor as one fresh clove. Be sure to steer clear of garlic salt, which is three parts sodium to one part garlic powder.
Garlic is an essential ingredient in many of our favorite foods, especially in Italian and Asian cuisines. Crushing or chopping the cloves releases the allicin, giving you both the great flavor and health benefits. Allow a few minutes for the compound to emerge before adding the garlic to any cooked dish.
Eating garlic does raise one concern for many people: bad breath (an aspect you may not consider as one of the garlic benefits). The sulfur in garlic can linger in your mouth, leaving behind a strong odor that makes some uncomfortable. Of course, you can brush your teeth and rinse with mouthwash after eating. But a traditional partner of garlic in many dishes, parsley, has been found to naturally counteract the odor. The green herb contains polyphenols, which break down the sulfur. Apples, milk and green tea are also effective.
Ready to enjoy more garlicky flavor with your flex meals? Here are four of our favorite garlic-rich recipes:
A marinade of garlic, honey and olive oil sparks the flavor of tender, juicy drumsticks. With an Air Fryer, they’re ready to eat in minutes.
Skewers of sweet, succulent shrimp become even more delicious when bathed in herb-and-garlic butter.
Chunks of chicken, tender gnocchi and lots of filling vegetables such as carrots, turnips, and butternut squash make this soup a hearty lunch. The garlic gives you that authentic Italian taste.
Cauliflower softened in the slow cooker mashes like potatoes, while a hefty amount of garlic brings the satisfying flavor to this low-calorie side dish.