The Unspoken Properties of Garlic

Well! What have I chosen to talk about! Such a precious condiment, suddenly turns into an extremely efficient repellent as its hints escape from the mouth that had a clove of it!

That’s why for many years it was missing from my beautiful and generous mixed salads. Yes, even as a true Provençal (inhabitant of Provence, France) I kept avoiding its raw version. You may say it’s feminine coquetry. Well, very little… But indeed my breath wanted to remain pure and fresh whatever happens!

But that was until garlic became my friend. After all, this companion is to health what the rose is to a gift: don’t you still offer it despite its few thorns?

So let’s unveil some of its wonders…

Its origins

The history of garlic began 3000 years BC in Kyrgyzstan. It reached our Mediterranean shores over the centuries. With success! Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, all of them gave themselves over to it to their hearts’ content! As well as many legends and superstitions that came along with it over the ages…

Pink garlic (widely cultivated in Provence) white or red, is eaten green or dry, after eight to ten days of natural drying.

It is present in many traditional dishes in Provence: aïoli, pistou soup, aïgo boulido and other garlic croutons are some examples.

Try my raw vegan aïoli recipe!

In Provençal tradition, households always kept a few braids of 12 heads of garlic to “chase away evil spirits“.
Could it be that garlic has some occult effects? It is well said that there is no smoke without fire…

Garlic: Man’s best friend

It is said to be antiseptic, stimulating and even an aphrodisiac! When I was traveling in Vietnam and Thailand it was explained to me that buddhist Monks avoid its consumption as well as onions for this reason …

I sometimes had lunch in Buddhist temples. Their food is completely plant-based and tastes are enhanced by adding sugar (too much to my taste though) and chilli pepper. Interesting, isn’t it?

A Monk also explained to me one day that the avoidance of garlic consumption is due to the fact that the spirits do not like unpleasant breath.

Needless to say, I was really surprised by this answer.

Garlic’s magical powers

Its antioxidant properties

Here is the secret for eternal youth! Garlic has many powerful antioxidants: tocopherol, steroids, vitamin C, polyphenols, flavonoids…

These compounds destroy free radicals that attack the membrane and genes of our cells.

These antioxidants therefore protect us not only from premature cell aging, but also from cardiovascular disorders and even cancer.

Its anti-cancer properties

Yes, we can say that because it is indeed scientifically proven! Epidemiological studies have shown a reduction in the risk of cancer, especially those of the digestive track, when consumed fresh or as an extract (allicin).

Garlic plays a role in the prevention of cancer cells thanks to its bio-active sulfur compounds (those that give bad breath!). Consuming it regularly protects us because it inhibits the action of carcinogenic compounds.
Good news, its properties are also valid for all the onion family: onions, leeks, spring onion, chives and shallots also allow us to benefit from them while bringing a variety to our plates!

One point to note: the anticancer activity of garlic falls by 50% when heated at 100°C for 10 minutes. The properties of raw garlic are therefore superior to those of cooked garlic. Just so you know…

A universal panacea?

Science has also shown that garlic has strong antibacterial, immunostimulant, and anti-thromboticproperties.

Studies have also established its effectiveness in disorders due to hypertension, arthritis, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disorders in general.

Taking some regularly during the cold months is a really good idea to build a strong immune system. It will help protect ourselves from colds, flu and other winter ailments.

Fermented garlic: even better?

I love to add garlic to my lacto-fermentations. It brings a delicious flavour and I am convinced that it complements the action of fresh garlic. It becomes crunchy, loses its spiciness and gracefully leaves no memory in your mouth!

It is interesting to add some to your menu because it has been shown that certain properties are clearly increased tenfold when garlic is lacto-fermented.

This is particularly the case in the cardiovascular area and for the protection of the liver.

What about black garlic?

When I was working in a restaurant in London, a Chef, friend of mine of Chinese origin, gave me a head of black garlic that she had fermented herself. I didn’t know garlic in that form then. Its licorice taste with hints of tamarind and balsamic vinegar got me! It is completely different from raw garlic. The enzymes eliminate the smell and strong taste during fermentation. It’s absolutely delicious as a sauce to accompany salads or vegetables. In Asia it has been in use for centuries!

It comes from a hot fermentation at 65°C and 85% humidity for a minimum of 4 weeks. It is quite restrictive as a preparation and also energy consuming. I prefer to buy it in my organic store where I know that the production conditions are well controlled.

On the health side, studies show that it retains properties (anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-allergic, cardioprotective, etc.), but they prove to be less powerful than in raw garlic.

“Have you been eating garlic?”

This question comes without warning, whatever the situation you may find yourself in… And suddenly you remember at lightning speed all the people you spoke with just before, and the one in front of you…

This immeseasurable embarrassment won’t go through you anymore if you follow one of these tips:

  • Mint: I use a drop of peppermint essential oil after the meal. I always carry some with me. I find it really makes a difference. You can also make an tea with a few leaves.
  • Parsley: it is rich in essential oils, take a sprig and chew it for a few minutes in your mouth.
  • Soda powder: wash your teeth well, including your tongue, and then wash your mouth with a glass of warm water mixed with a spoonful of soda.
  • Anise: you can try to chew some anise seeds after eating.
  • Cinnamon: drink as a herbal tea after a meal rich in garlic.
  • Clove: rich in essential oils, one or two can be chewed to cleanse the mouth.
  • Lemon: drink some juice with sparkling water.

I haven’t tried all of these tips yet but I would be curious to know yours 😉 Feel free to share them !

As a conclusion, let’s not deprive ourselves. Garlic is a friend to all of us! And from now on, permission grantred, let’s enjoy these beneficial bulblets (also called cloves) to the fullest! Bon appétit! 🙂

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