By Maddy Ancalade, RD, LDN
Garlic is widely cultivated and distributed all across the world. For over 5,000 years, garlic has been used not only as a food source, but medicinally as well. Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, recommended garlic for treating pulmonary problems and abdominal growths. In China, it was used to aid digestion and even to alleviate depression.
In the United States, California is the number one grower, producing over 90% of the country’s garlic. The pungent vegetable is so popular it even has its own day—National Garlic Day on April 19th. Garlic may be small, but it’s a nutritional superstar. It’s loaded with vitamins B and C, manganese, selenium, iron, copper, and potassium.
Because of its clinically promising results in disease prevention and treatment, garlic has gained popularity not just for its flavor, but for its health advantages as well. Several studies have demonstrated a correlation between garlic supplementation and health benefits. These include lower blood sugar levels in individuals with Type 2 diabetes, improved brain health, and protection against certain cancers due to garlic's antioxidant effects.
Garlic has also displayed some promising cardiovascular protective benefits. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found a strong correlation between garlic supplementation and reduced blood pressure and cholesterol—two leading risk factors for the development of heart disease, which remains the leading cause of death in the United States.
How to Enjoy
Garlic is a versatile ingredient that can be added to countless recipes to enhance flavor. You can’t go wrong incorporating more of it into your diet, not just because it tastes good, but also because of all the positive effects it can have for your health.
Here are a few ways you can enjoy garlic:
• Mince a garlic clove and add it into salad or salad dressing
• Combine minced garlic and butter to make a spread for garlic bread
• Add chopped garlic to any guacamole or hummus recipe
• Sauté chopped garlic with your favorite greens, such as spinach or kale
• Add chopped garlic to stews, soups, and even pasta sauces
• Enhance the flavor of your mashed potatoes by adding in raw or roasted garlic