Garlic, the wonder food

by Sanjeev Kapoor

When we were children we were of the opinion that one shouldn’t have raw garlic because it causes bad breath. Little did we know then the goodness of this little clove and what it can do to help us lead healthy lives. 

I for one have always loved the flavour of garlic and so does Alyona. And it is one ingredient which we use almost daily in our kitchen. We firmly believe that a garlic clove a day can help to keep cancer away. And it is also very heart friendly. What I mean to say it can keep heart attacks away. 

You want to know what is it that makes garlic so good for us – it is a chemical called Allicin, which according to research was used to successfully kill cancer cells and malignant tumours in mice. 

Allicin also releases nitric oxide which decreases blood vessel stiffness, thereby reducing total blood pressure. It also blocks platelet clot formation and helps to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular diseases and even stroke. 

But, yes there is a but – this chemical is not active in an unbroken clove of garlic, it needs to be crushed for it to show its prowess. This way any parasites, bacteria or other microbes get killed even before the temperature kills them. And you know what this suggests – that if you are eating garlic daily, you needn’t fear life threatening diseases.

Besides this garlic cloves contain many minerals, vitamins, anti-oxidants, and phyto-nutrients that are beneficial to human health. The bulbs are one of the richest sources of potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and selenium. 

It is best to have garlic raw but then eating it this way would not be a pleasant experience. And that’s because it has such a strong flavour. So the next best thing would be to have it mixed with other foods where in its flavour could be a bit diluted. So add garlic to the food while cooking it for this way allicin gets distributed throughout the food thus providing you with the benefits of its anti-carcinogenic and antiseptic properties.

And, yes, remember to peel it before adding it to the food because cooking garlic in its peel destroys its curative properties. Also, using a garlic freshly peeled is best. Peeling, crushing and storing garlic in quantity may be convenient and a time saver, but this way a lot of potent health properties are lost. 

The goodness of garlic can be had in many ways yet the best way is to have it from the clove itself. Garlic is used as flavouring in Indian and International cuisines. Both cloves as well as tender green tops of garlic plant are used in a variety of recipes, especially as seasoning. 

Italians and Chinese eat plenty of garlic in their food, and have very low incidences of cancer. Pizzas and pastas, which use maida and cheese, also use liberal amounts of garlic, with the result that Italians seem relatively immune to other problems associated with such a diet such as high cholesterol and heart ailments. Similarly, Chinese food is rich in garlic, and the Chinese too are statistically less prone to cancer and heart ailments.

So take heart and have you daily dose of garlic. If you can consume it raw, it is best. Just peel it, crush it fifteen minutes later and swallow it with a little milk. If you do not want to smell of garlic the entire day, have it just before going to bed, and you will notice that your health and immunity has improved.

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.