Garlic Goodness

By Edeline Anne Goh

Scientifically known as allium sativum, or better known as bawang putih in Bahasa Malaysia, garlic is a relative to onions, shallots, leeks and chives.

Often a staple ingredient in most dishes or eaten raw, garlic has a fair amount of both lovers and haters. If you’ve tried it, you’re likely to be very aware of the strong pungent taste of raw garlic and it’s malodourous effects on your breath and even your sweat!

However, no matter where you stand regarding its strong flavour and lingering odour, garlic brings many benefits to your health.

Immune System

Garlic brings many benefits to your overall health and wellbeing. In fact, you might already know of a family health remedy for coughs, flu or sore throats, which involves garlic. The substance in garlic that makes the magic happen is called allicin and together with other essential compounds, it is found to have anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. All you need to do is eat a clove of garlic (preferably raw) and let the cool feeling soothe your sore throat while the medicinal properties of garlic boost your immune system.

Heart Disease

Some researchers suggest that garlic helps prevent heart disease. This is because of its blood thinning properties, which helps to prevent the hardening of arteries — also known as atherosclerosis. This is a condition that can lead to strokes and heart attacks. Besides that, garlic is believed to help with high blood pressure too. So, if garlic is not a common ingredient in your home-cooked dishes, you might want to consider including this ‘healthy-licious’ ingredient in tonight’s dinner!

Antioxidant Properties

Antioxidants, as you probably know, help to fight cancer-causing free radicals. In general, bright-coloured fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes and broccoli, are rich in antioxidants and the good news is — so is garlic! However, do keep in mind that if you’re keen to gain the maximum benefits of garlic, it is best eaten raw. While it’s true that this may not be your favourite way to consume this strong-tasting herb, why not try a number of creative methods to add raw garlic to your meals? For instance, you could add tiny slivers of chopped, raw garlic to your salad dressing. You could also try the Mediterranean way of adding olive oil, herbs and garlic on your breads, salads and in your pasta sauce. 

Reduces Platelet Count

If you have an extraordinarily high platelet count, which may increase your risk of platelet aggregation, garlic may help to reduce blood clots.  However, for people who are recovering from surgery, pregnant women or those who have an abnormal platelet count, high amounts of garlic in their food or garlic supplements are not recommended as this can prevent blood from clotting. Instead, seek advice from your doctor.

What You May Not Know About Garlic

  • The strong smell of garlic can linger on your breath for hours
  • You may be allergic to it
  • It is toxic for many animals including dogs and cats

Is Garlic Breath Preventing You From Enjoying Its Benefits?

If the reason you’re avoiding garlic is because of it’s what happens to your breath, authors of the Journal of Food Science say, ‘Drink a glass of milk!’ As reported on BBC’s online portal, a study was conducted to test the effects of milk on both raw and cooked garlic. The study showed that milk is able to significantly reduce the concentration of sulphur — the compound in garlic, which is the main cause behind that infamous pungent flavour and smell. So, the next time you enjoy a garlic dip, pour yourself a glass of milk and sip along. For best results — make that full-fat milk!

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