Garlic: More than just flavor, a powerful addition to your diet!

Health Benefits of Garlic With Senior Star

Most people know that garlic adds robust flavor to food. However, you might be surprised to learn that this root vegetable may be small, but it’s certainly mighty! Garlic is a powerful ally when it comes to maintaining health, especially as we age. 

Garlic’s Ancient Roots

Garlic goes back thousands of years with origins in Mesopotamia, China, and Egypt.

Closely related to onions, shallots, and leeks, garlic has a long history in folk medicine as a treatment for everything from arthritis to snake bites.

Every part of the garlic plant is edible, but we most commonly consume the bulb, cooked, raw, or powdered. Garlic has a strong, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens with cooking.

Garlic is often associated with Italian food, but much of our garlic is actually produced in Canada. According to Canadian Food Focus, garlic is grown across Canada with more than 2,000 acres devoted to its production each year. Garlic is grown in Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec.

The Health Benefits of Garlic

1. Boosts Immune System

Garlic is renowned for its ability to boost the immune system. It contains compounds like allicin, which have antimicrobial, antiviral, and even anti fungal properties.

Regular consumption of garlic can help ward off common illnesses such as colds and flu, but also more serious diseases like cancer.

One study looked at 40,000 women between the ages of 55 and 69 and found that those who routinely ate garlic had a 35% lower colon cancer risk.

2. Supports Heart Health

Studies have found that garlic can be used to help manage several risk factors associated with heart disease. It has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and prevent plaque buildup in arteries. These effects collectively contribute to a healthier cardiovascular system.

3. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Promising research indicates that garlic’s anti-inflammatory properties may benefit people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These properties can help reduce inflammation in the body, alleviating symptoms and potentially slowing the progression of these conditions.

4. Improves Bone Health

Bone density often decreases with age, increasing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Garlic contains trace minerals such as manganese, which is vital for bone formation and calcium absorption. Consuming garlic regularly can support bone health and reduce the risk of bone-related issues.

How to Incorporate Garlic into Your Diet

Adding garlic to your diet is just as easy as it is delicious. Here are some practical and tasty ways to enjoy the benefits of garlic:

  1. Fresh Garlic in Cooking: One of the simplest ways to use garlic is to add fresh cloves to your cooking. Whether you’re making soups, stews, or stir-fries, finely chopped or crushed garlic can enhance the flavor and health benefits of your meals. 
  2. Garlic Powder: If fresh garlic is too strong for your taste, garlic powder is a milder alternative. Sprinkle it over salads, veggies, or even popcorn. It’s a convenient way to add garlic to your diet without the strong aroma.
  3. Garlic Supplements: For those who might have difficulty incorporating enough garlic into their meals, garlic supplements are available in various forms, including capsules and tablets. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen to ensure it’s safe for you.
  4. Garlic-Infused Oils: Garlic-infused olive oil is a tasty and versatile option. Use it as a dressing for salads, a dip for bread, or a drizzle over cooked vegetables. It combines the health benefits of garlic with the heart-healthy properties of olive oil.
  5. Roasted Garlic: Roasting garlic brings out its natural sweetness and reduces its sharpness. Simply cut the top off a head of garlic, drizzle it with olive oil, wrap it in foil, and roast in the oven until soft. Spread the creamy, roasted garlic on fresh bread or mix it into mashed potatoes for a savory treat.

Garlic: A Powerful Superfood

Garlic is more than just a flavorful addition to your meals; it’s a bonafide superfood! Try adding garlic to your diet, and you can enjoy both the taste and the health perks it offers. 

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