Many people love to add garlic to meals: in spaghetti, stir-fries, soups, stews and other family-favorite recipes. This habit isn't just good for flavor, it can also help your waistline and boost your health. Forget about an apple a day; it's garlic's turn to shine. If you haven't used your garlic press in a while, it's time to move it to the top shelf.
Your Heart Loves Garlic
Eating more garlic can help your ticker keep on going strong for ages. It’s no wonder that cultures that enjoy a lot of garlic (e.g. Asia and Eastern Europe) have such a reputation for longevity. The power of garlic offers several benefits for heart health:
Significantly reduces blood pressure
Lowers cholesterol levels
Decreases overall risk of heart disease
Provides antioxidants to protect the heart
Helps to expand blood vessels
Some studies have even suggested that garlic can be just as effective as common medications for lowering high blood pressure. To get this effect, though, you have to eat the equivalent of about four cloves of garlic each day. Of course, you should discuss any supplements with your doctor before changing treatment plans.
Garlic Can Strengthen Your Immune System
There are many ways to get your daily garlic boost: garlic supplements, garlic extract, fresh cloves, crushed garlic or garlic used in cooking. Virtually all forms of garlic have positive effects on your immune system.
Several studies show that this potent herb can reduce the number of times you get sick and cut the duration of illnesses such as the common cold. Compared to the test group, people taking garlic experienced a sick-day reduction of over 60%!
Garlic Can Help Reduce Inflammation
Many people deal with more inflammation than they think. Whether you have periodic pain from sore muscles or chronic inflammation from arthritis, some garlic can do you a world of good.
The Arthritis Foundation recommends garlic for fighting inflammation and mentions that this spice may even prevent cartilage damage. Certain compounds in garlic can block cytokines, the chemical messengers that go haywire and trigger chronic inflammation.
You can also apply garlic oil directly to inflamed areas to reduce pain and swelling. Just rub a little garlic oil on tender joints or painful muscles and give yourself a gentle massage.
The Importance of a Good Garlic Press
A garlic press saves you time when cooking. You don’t need to worry about mincing, slicing or even peeling; the press does it all for you. Even better, you get delicious garlic without having to deal with smelly oil on your fingers.
The other reason to invest in a garlic press is that it increases the health benefits of garlic. The secret behind garlic’s power is a natural compound called allicin. The enzymes in allicin need to be activated before they work, which only happens when cloves are chopped, chewed or crushed.
Unless you’re into eating raw garlic, a press is the easiest way to get this nutrition boost going. To maximize the benefits, let crushed garlic sit for 5–10 minutes and add it to food at the very end of cooking so you don’t lose many vitamins.
Tons of Flavor for Cooking
This herb also offers wonderful advantages for natural cooking. With such potent flavor, you can make food taste better without needing to add a ton of salt or fat. Every clove of garlic infuses food with valuable nutrients, such as manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and calcium.