Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An Ode to Garlic

When I first moved to North Idaho, my girlfriends introduced me to The White House Grill. It’s a Mediterranean restaurant with loud music, attentive service, belly dancers on Thursdays, and more garlic than you could possibly imagine. Their slogan is “You love garlic, we love you.” I read once that The White House goes through 150 pounds of garlic per week, and honestly, that number seems low.

From the first time I left with my mouth tingling and the stench oozing from my pores, I was hooked. I love garlic like Willie Nelson loves weed and this restaurant clearly shared my love. Every time a friend comes to town or my friends get together for lunch, we always hit The White House for a garlic overload.

I always knew garlic was healthy, but recently I have learned some pretty awesome things about it. Aside from being yummy and flavorful, here are some other benefits of the delicious little bulbs of goodness and tips for getting the most of these benefits:

1) It has antibacterial properties. Garlic can help kill bacteria like listeria, salmonella and E. coli. And, unlike antibiotics, bacteria won’t develop a resistance to garlic.

2) It’s chock full of antioxidants, which means it has a number of health benefits. It even slows the aging process of your liver. Thank God for that, because the afore-mentioned White House Grill has a killer wine list.

3) It can help prevent acne breakouts. Garlic has natural blood cleansing properties and can be used in addition to other treatments.

4) It improves the function of your immune system, which can help prevent colds or shorten their duration. I’ve mentioned that I always eat a clove of garlic before I fly or when I feel a cold coming on. It has worked miracles on even my crappy immune system. If your stomach is sensitive, crush it and take it after a meal.

5) Garlic may help prevent cancer. Studies on both people and animals have shown that garlic can reduce the formation of cancerous cells and even help shrink tumors. It’s particularly effective in blocking esophageal, breast, stomach, prostate and bladder cancers.

6) As a natural blood thinner, garlic prevents blood clots and hypertension. There’s a chemical in garlic called ajoene to thank for this.

7) Garlic helps prevent impotence. Aside from aiding in blood circulation, compounds in garlic stimulate the production of nitric oxide synthase, which as it turns out is required to get a boner. No wonder it was considered an ancient aphrodisiac!

8) It’s a natural mosquito repellant. No one really knows why, but when people have garlic in their system, they get fewer bites. Perhaps mosquitoes are distantly related to vampires or they just don’t like the smell. Either way, this fact excites me because mosquitoes love to bite me and I’m totally going to The White House Grill before my next backpacking trip with my husband.

9) When cooking with garlic, chop or crush it at room temperature and then allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. This triggers an enzyme that boosts its healthy compounds.

10) If possible, buy organic garlic. It contains higher sulphur levels and has greater health benefits. Also, it tastes much better and you won’t have to worry about pesticides.

If you’re one of those freaks of nature who doesn’t like garlic or you’re honestly worried about the smell (I’m aware of the odor I emit, I just don’t care), you can get health benefits from garlic supplements. Obviously I have no need for them, but I’m aware that some people don’t share my love of this white little miracle. Probably the same people who think mushrooms taste good.

Years of subscription to SELF magazine


Sarah Elizabeth said...

P.S. It can fight yeast infections too, when used as a suppository.

Who knew? :-)

Signed, A Fellow Garlic Lover

JessicaLee said...

Yes, I totally forgot to mention that! I once had a friend call me and say, "Guess what? I've got garlic in my twat!" True story. I miss you!

Josephine said...

Oooh, another great post Jess! I eat garlic quite often. Yay :)

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