Combat Vampires – and Disease – With Garlic
With Halloween fast approaching, I was doing a little reading on vampires and their severe case of alliumphobia, or a fear of garlic. Although it is somewhat unclear why garlic is such a powerful tool against vampires, its health benefits are better understood.
Some of Reasons Garlic is So Good
Here are a few things the naturally occurring sulfur compounds, particularly allicin, in garlic just might do for you:
- Allicin has antibacterial properties. This may help to kill any bacteria present in our food that could lead to food poisoning. Once ingested it may help to fight off any bacterial infections. Or it can be rubbed raw on acne or athlete’s foot to help kill off the bacteria or fungus (many creams which would be considered safer contain 0.4-1% ajoene which is the ingredient from garlic).
- Several sulfur compounds have been shown to help with inflammation. So if you can handle the smell; try rubbing garlic oil on inflamed joints or sore muscles.
- Several small studies have shown that garlic can improve heart health by lowering cholesterol and/or blood pressure. Researchers believe our red blood cells turn the sulfur in garlic into hydrogen sulfide gas which expands our blood vessels, making it easier to regulate blood pressure. Not to mention it is a great way to get flavor without adding any salt/sodium.
- Several animal studies have shown that garlic may minimize bone loss.
Garlic, especially in supplement form, can interact with medication and cause side effects so please talk to a health care professional before starting any supplements.
Spicy Garlic Chickpeas
- 2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas; drained and rinsed
- 4-6 crushed garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add garlic, red pepper and chickpeas and cook until garlic is golden and chickpeas begin to blister, approximately 6-8 minutes.
- Enjoy as a snack or a healthy, protein-rich side dish to go with salad or lean-meat entrée.
Lauren Cornay, RD, LN, is a registered dietitian at Avera Heart Hospital. Get more insight on nutrition and health.