Boost Your Family's Health With Nutritious Garlic

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, Mealtime

If you're looking for a great way to add some flavour to your family's meals, garlic should be at the top of your grocery list. While it's often associated with dishes like garlic bread and Caesar salad, you can add garlic to just about any meal for a nice flavour boost -- as well as some great health benefits.

Garlic is a member of the onion family, used not only for cooking purposes but for medicinal purposes, too. Aside from helping the body to fight cancer and cardiovascular diseases, it also acts as an anti-inflammatory and has anti-viral properties. You could say that each clove can be used to eat or treat. The white paper-like coating that covers each clove is not edible, however the leaves and flowers around the garlic head are. And believe it or not, the odour normally associated with garlic is actually what makes it so healthy!
What's With the Smell?
The power of garlic comes from its rich sulfur-containing compound called allicin. Allicin is an amino acid and is not present in fresh garlic. Instead, it is produced when the garlic cloves are chewed or crushed. The heat-causing action of cutting and breaking garlic apart is when allicin is produced. Notice that a clove of garlic on your counter does not smell, but once you start cutting into it, the smell begins. The smell is a small price for the health benefits that allicin can provide, though -- Allicin can be very effective against infections like a cold or flu, or even stomach viruses. It has also been shown to help reduce inflammation in the body, which makes it a must-have diet item for individuals suffering from arthritis.

Rich in Vitamins
Not only is garlic rich in natural medicine, but it also offers an array of nutritional benefits. A little garlic is all you need to get a healthy dose of manganese, potassium, zinc, selenium, arginine and polyphenols. It is also a good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C. So you can really feel good about serving garlic-infused dishes to your kids. Chopped garlic or cloves are a great addition to beans, soups, sauces or even roasted root vegetables.

Cooking Tip
The best way to break a garlic bulb is using the palm of your hand, or the flat end of a large knife. Press firmly on the bulb at an angle to separate the cloves. You can also roast entire bulbs of garlic for a simple and delicious appetizer! Check out this great roasted garlic recipe.


Karla Heintz, B.Sc., is a nutrition educator and author of Picky? Not Me, Mom! A Parents' Guide to Children's Nutrition. If you have a question you would like answered please leave it in the comment section below. Thanks!

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.