The Goodness of Garlic

Although garlic greens make tasty springtime fare, we most often use the fleshy, underground bulbs that separate into cloves—each neatly wrapped in paper-thin skin.

| January/February 2004

  • For maximum health benefit, crush raw garlic and let it sit for 10 minutes before cooking with it.
    Photo By Kati Molin/Fotolia
  • Fettunta is prepared by grilling slices of Tuscan bread over an outdoor fire, then rubbing the bread with raw garlic and anointing it with olive oil and coarse sea salt.
    Joe Coca
  • Wilted spinach makes a wonderful tapas dish served with bread and olives, is perfect served as a vegetable accompaniment and is excellent on pasta or pizza. The saffron gives a hint of exotic Spanish fare.
    Joe Coca
  • This simple White Bean Spread combines the protein of beans along with the goodness of raw garlic to make a delicious, nutritious lunch or tasty appetizer.
    Joe Coca
  • Fresh garlic is known for myriad health benefits, including antioxidant protection and antibacterial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-coagulant, antifungal and antiviral properties.
    Joe Coca

Garlic (Allium sativum) has long been used as a folk remedy for colds, coughs and flu, to repel insects and ward off the plague, as an antidote for poison and as a disinfectant. The antiseptic and digestive properties of garlic have been studied and well documented in the 20th century, and garlic faces a great future in the 21st century.

According to recently published figures in the September 2003 issue of Chemical and Engineering News, garlic closely follows echinacea as a top seller for herbal medicines in the United States.

James Duke, Ph.D., is an ethnobotanist with more than 30 years of experience working with medicinal herbs and is an Herbs for Health editorial adviser. On Duke’s list of the top five herbs for all ailments, garlic is at the top — Duke indicates 65 uses: for minor irritations such as dandruff, flatulence and insect bites; ailments like arthritis, ringworm and tumors; and serious conditions such as arteriosclerosis, cancer and gangrene. Although I’ve heard of using garlic to stave off vampires, Duke, who frequently travels in Central and South America, is the only person I know who uses garlic to repel vampire bats from biting his toes!

Garlic Recipes

• Raw Garlic Fettunta
• Garlic and Honey 
• Garlic-Miso Broth 
• Japanese-Style Soup 
• Spanish-Style Wilted Spinach 
• White Bean Spread with Sage 
• Garlic Vinaigrette 

A Bevy of Benefits

Fresh garlic is known for its antioxidant protection and its antibacterial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-coagulant, antifungal and antiviral properties, to name just a few. Its warming, pungent flavor makes it a stimulant to the immune system. Garlic lowers fever by promoting sweating and helps to eliminate toxins from the body.

The herb also is used to elevate good HDL cholesterol and for lowering bad LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. It’s helpful for heart disease and in treating cancer, flu and colds, sore throats, earaches, intestinal bugs, viral infections and much more.

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