Garlic is considered a superfood, a functional food. A functional food is when the good it does for our bodies is far beyond the absorption of the protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals within. Let's start with a little probe of this amazing bulb.
What is garlic? It is a member of the allium family; this includes leeks, onions, green onions, chives, etc. There is a bulb at the base of allium plants, some smaller and some larger.
Characteristics of garlic:
- very fibrous
- sulfur compounds within
- it is a prebiotic
- found all over the world
Let’s talk about garlic as a prebiotic. Pre-biotics are fibrous plants that feed the garden of bacteria growing inside of the intestines. Our bodies cannot absorb this fiber, therefore it helps us to have bowel movements. Our intestinal bacteria can, however, feed off of the prebiotics that garlic provides. So prebiotic foods feed the probiotics. The fibers in garlic are inulin and fructooligosaccharides. The fructooligosccharides not only allow the probiotics to grow, but they prevent disease causing bacteria from growing. This is one reason why garlic is called a superfood.
Another reason garlic is considered healthful is that it holds antioxidant properties. Antioxidants heal and clean up the cells’ outer walls, which become damaged by the stresses we have, the modern American diet, the pollution in the air, and the things we use in, on, and around us. Those damaging items in our lives create oxidative stress. Garlic is an antioxidant, repairing the damage.
Garlic is helpful in reducing the risk of heart disease by reducing high cholesterol and plaque buildup in the arteries. When eaten, during digestion and absorption, garlic pulls fluid from where it is not needed, and helps normalize blood pressure.
Garlic has anti-microbial functions. It is used as a topical compress and cuts and wounds to prevent infections. Even when applied to bruises externally, garlic speeds up the skin discoloration in returning to normal.
Garlic is a natural anti-inflammatory, on the skin’s surface, and systemically in all of the bodies tissues, organs, and systems. It has even been used in anti-cancer therapy treatments for precancerous and stage 1 cancer of the prostate gland.
Garlic is a natural antibiotic, killing infections without killing off all of the healthy bacteria in the gut. Pharmaceutical antibiotics kill off diseases and infections, as well as the good bacteria lining in the intestines. That’s why many health practitioners encourage probiotic capsules or fermented foods after a round of pharmaceutical antibiotics.
Garlic has been around for about 6000 years, and the oldest garlic that has been preserved has been found in caves in Israel and in Egypt in and around the pyramids. It has been found in ancient Greek temples and in ancient texts from every culture around the world. It is interesting to note that cultures who were completely cut off from each other came to similar conclusions as to the benefits of garlic. Garlic was even used in the ancient Greek Olympian diet of athletes, as a performance enhancing agent.
In ancient Egypt garlic was fed to the working class and to the slave classes to help them have strength stamina and energy to build the pyramids. In fact, garlic was used in all of the working classes around the world to enhance their livelihood and labor efforts.
In ancient Israel garlic was fed to those suffering from foodborne illnesses to kill parasites in the digestive system. It was also used before sex to increase the chances of conception.
In ancient China and Japan garlic was eaten alongside raw meats and fish to kill any living parasites in the flash. It was used as a food preservative as well. In ancient Asia garlic was used to improve mail potency and increase sperm count.
In ancient India garlic was used as a diuretic and also as a jack of all trades medicine. It was mentioned in all of the Ayurvedic medicine texts. It was especially used in breathing ailments, including allergies, asthma treatments, and other diseases, including those caused by smoking.
During the Middle Ages garlic was grown in Europe in the monasteries. The surrounding farmers would grow garlic and give as donations to the monasteries. Then the monks would distribute the garlic widespread throughout their communities.
In the United States, native Americans used garlic for flu symptoms. The early settlers used it for constipation and diarrhea. It was also use for headaches.
Garlic is used raw, cooked, baked, fermented, pickled, dried, powdered, minced, as a paste, as a side dish, alone or mixed with other herbs and spices. It has always been used in a myriad of ways. In Gilroy, California they even have a garlic festival which includes garlic ice cream! Whenever my family had the flu or a cold when I was a child, we would make chicken soup with my grandmother’s recipe of vegetables, herbs, and lots of garlic. The combination of the chicken stock with the bone marrow, the collagen from the slow cooking style, the herbs and garlic made us feel relief from symptoms right away.
Cooking garlic makes it less spicy and less pungent of an odor. Garlic will come out of the pores in our skin and give off a garlic smell. For this reason a lot of folks won’t eat garlic, especially raw. We do have other herbs to counteract the smell like parsley and cilantro eaten afterwards.
Fermented black garlic is the result of heating and humidifying the garlic at high temperatures and high humidity, up to 90 percent humidity for at least 30 days. Most fermented black garlic is fermented and aged in this way about 60 days or more. The longer the ferment, the sweeter and more plum like the taste becomes. It resembles a sweet and sour plum jam. It is often served instead of preserves or honey alongside a fruit and cheese platter at fine dining restaurants. In fact, the first time I had black fermented garlic, I thought I was eating guava paste!
Let’s sample some garlic!
Original post here!