GarlicThe health and medicinal benefits of eating garlic have been known for thousands of years. Garlic was used for medicinal purposes in India 5,000 years ago and Chinese medicine has incorporated the use of garlic for over 3,000 years. It's also interesting to note that, in areas where the consumption of garlic is higher than average - such as the Mediterranean and the Far East, there is a lower incidence of heart disease.
A compound called allicin has been identified as the active ingredient in garlic. It's released when the garlic is crushed, cut or chewed. It's also responsible for garlic's taste and rather powerful smell. Allicin is a sulphur bearing compound and it's been found that hydrogen sulphide relaxes blood vessels and helps blood to flow more easily.
This stimulates the cells which form the lining of blood vessels and causes the blood vessels to expand. This lowers blood pressure, allows the blood to carry more oxygen to internal organs and reduces pressure on the heart.
It was also reported, as a result of a recent study, that taking garlic on a daily basis cut the risk of catching the common cold by 50%. Even the garlic munchers in the study who were unfortunate enough to catch the cold recovered more quickly than their non-garlic eating fellow volunteers. As a rule, if you're taking garlic in an attempt to avoid catching the cold, you should eat two or three cloves a day.
Apart from the benefits already outlined, garlic contains plenty vitamins and minerals which are generally good for your health. Eating just a single clove of garlic each day will boost your level of potassium, selenium, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium and iodine. It will also provide you with a good natural source of vitamins a, B and C.
If you would like to get the health benefits of garlic but you don't like the smell then one tip is to chew fresh parsley after eating garlic. If you don't fancy that, or if you just don't like the taste, then garlic is available in supplement form - which is odorless. However, the natural form is better for you.
If you are using garlic as an ingredient to add to your food, then crush it and allow it to sit for about ten minutes before adding it to the mix. Do not microwave food which contains garlic as this will kill the active ingredients.

All About Garlic

The Complete Book of Garlic: A Guide for Gardeners, Growers, and Serious Cooks
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