garlic

Garlic: Why Do We Love You?

Sicilians love garlic; I love garlic; the world loves it but WHY?  You make our breath questionable. Sometimes you give us indigestion, but we simply adore you. And we should.

The magic cloves add a distinct flavor to Sicilian cooking, but it also has medical uses. It can prevent or treat many diseases.

Ancient Egyptians used it for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Doesn’t it amaze you how smart the Ancients were?

Garlic’s relatives are the onion, scallion, chive, leek, and shallot all in the allium family. Both raw and cooked, it can have antibiotic attributes. Its cousins also provide some amazing health benefits.

Sicilian Garlic

Do you realize that there is a variety labeled Sicilian? It is a soft-neck variety. I did not perceive the neck of the garlic to be particularly important, but it is.

The hard-neck variety does not have a long shelf life. Soft neck garlic can actually keep for one year.  This variety grows in California.

Garlic Through the Ages

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, prescribed garlic as a treatment for respiratory issues, parasites, bad digestion, and fatigue. Yikes, did the ancients get parasites? Oh yes, and garlic repelled vampires too, according to legend.

It was eye-opening to read that garlic was one of the first performance-enhancing substances used by the ancient Greek Olympians.

The magic of garlic spread through Middle East Asia, and Nepal. These ancients used it for any of the following reasons: fevers, diabetes, bronchitis, high blood pressure, TB, liver problems, dysentery, flatulence, intestinal worms, and rheumatism. Then the French, Spanish, and Portuguese explorers introduced it to the New World.

Current Uses of Garlic

Did you know that garlic is a treatment for hardening of the arteries? It has a positive effect on the heart and blood and helps in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Prevention is the name of garlic’s game.

It also has a role in preventing many cancers: lung, prostate, rectal, colon, breast, and stomach. Not all of these facts are backed by research, but the research has been promising.

Scientifically Proven Benefits of Garlic

Scientific journals found the following facts about:

Malignant brain tumors

Studies at the Medical University of South Carolina suggested that garlic and its cousins show great promise in controlling malignant brain tumor cells. More studies are necessary, but this is an encouraging step in the right direction.

Hip osteoarthritis

A group at King’s College and the University or East Anglia, both in England, discovered that women with diets plentiful in allium vegetables, (garlic, leeks, shallot, and onions) had fewer occurrences of hip osteoarthritis. Why? It contains allicin, a compound in garlic that holds amazing medicinal characteristics.

Bacteria

Campylobacter bacterium is a bacteria that causes intestinal infections. A compound in garlic was 100 times more successful than two popular antibiotics for fighting this bacterial.

Dr. Xiaonan Lu from Washington State University states, “This work is very exciting to me because it shows that this compound has the potential to reduce disease-causing bacteria in the environment and in our food supply.”

I think this is huge.

Heart protection

Diallyl trisulfide is a compound in garlic oil. This oil is an excellent way to deliver the benefits of hydrogen sulfide to the heart. Hydrogen sulfide protects the heart from damage. I like the idea of my heart being protected, and I like garlic!

 High cholesterol and high blood pressure

23 volunteers participated in a study. These people all suffered from high cholesterol, and 13 of them had high blood pressure also. The subjects were divided into two groups.

  • High cholesterol with normal blood pressure
  • High cholesterol with high blood pressure

They all ingested garlic supplements for four months. After the four months in both groups:

  • Cholesterol was much improved
  • Systolic and diastolic blood pressure was extremely improved

Fun fact: Extract from the bulbs might protect the liver against alcohol-induced liver disease. Wow!!

For drug interactions and possible side effects, here is an important article. Read more.

Ridding the World of Garlic

If you think you have heard ridiculous arguments, listen to this one. One chef in a Roman restaurant specializing in Sicilian food recommended banning garlic. Seriously. I read it on a printed page. He and other critics complained that it is too smelly.

The logic is that Italians no longer need this food because they now can afford less smelly alternatives to spice up meals (citrus, herbs). They no longer rely on cheap choices to give food flavor. They can now use the good stuff.

It never dawned on me that this food was a poor man’s food.

This debate happened in 2007 and of course, it never came to a conclusion. Can you even imagine an Italian restaurant in Italy not including garlic in dishes? Who bans food anyhow?

How Is This For a Stereotype?

“  A 1939 Life magazine feature about Joe DiMaggio – the first issue to feature an Italian American on the cover – lauded him for ‘not reeking of garlic‘ in spite of his background.” Snobby Life magazine. Hmph!

This wounds me. Mommy save me from this discrimination! Call the IGNORANCE police!!!

Anyway, in spite of all objections, the world still loves garlic. A thump on the head to LIFE magazine.

Can It Help with Weight?

Do you want to lose weight? Who doesn’t?

According to recent studies, the magic bulb could be part of an effective strategy to avoid weight gain and discard unwanted fat.

Case Study:

Laboratory mice consumed an extremely caloric diet for eight weeks. All mice ate the same diet, but garlic was mixed into it. The researchers discovered that adding garlic actually reduced the mice’s ability to store fat, so they lost weight.

This study suggests that humans could also succeed in losing weight by eating more of it.

Final Thought

Now that I know how garlic can help me with cholesterol and blood pressure, I am going to investigate some supplements for myself. I always enjoy my food when it is enhanced by the tasty cloves of heaven.

There are some wonderful and easy Sicilian recipes in this post. The mystery of the Sicilian dish is simplicity. AND garlic is king.

Sicilian Style Sauce Get Recipe

Sicilian Style Broccoli Get Recipe

Sicilian Style Cod with Parsley and Garlic Potatoes Get Recipe

5 Comments

    • Hi, I would love to expand this for you. Right now, my website is getting an overhaul so I am not posting right now. I will do a post first thing when we launch the new website on garlic and expand it a lot.

      Stay tuned. If you have not subscribed to the website, do so and you will get all updates. I think the subscribe pages are working.

      Regards,
      Sandi

  1. I absolutely love garlic! I guess it comes from my mom using it creatively in here cooking but it does have some amazing health benefits and you have explained them fantastically here in this post. I didn’t know about the Sicilian garlic and I was born and raised in Cali hehe, that is why it is so amazing to read. Thanks for reminding me why it is important to use garlic, I will be sure to stick to my mother’s and grandmother’s teachings and use those cloves in my recipes.

    • Hi Melissa,
      Thanks so much for your comments. I am such a garlic lover I should live until 100. I particularly like the cholesterol and blood pressure benefits.

      You are so sweet. Yes, keep mom’s and gram’s cooking in your mind when you cook. It is a good practice.

      Feel free to peruse the website and subscribe if you like. Thanks for visiting.

      Sandi

    • Garlic is one of my favorite ingredients to use to kick up a dish and add some real flavor. Thanks for sharing so many fun facts I didn’t know.

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