What would garlic tell you if it could talk?

You probably know garlic is good for your cholesterol. And if you like garlic, you wouldn’t even think of making your favorite recipes without it — which is a good thing because this pungent herb may also be good for your blood sugar.

According to early research with animals, garlic may increase insulin secretion, which would lower blood sugar, and improve insulin sensitivity, in effect helping to reverse diabetes. Since supplements show no blood sugar benefits, enjoy garlic the old-fashioned, tasty way. A recent animal study found that high doses of raw garlic significantly reduced blood sugar levels.

“The stinking rose” offers other health benefits as well. Study after study shows it can help keep cholesterol under control by lowering “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and pumping up “good” (HDL). In an analysis of five trials in which participants received either garlic supplements or placebos, the authors concluded that you could lower your total cholesterol by about 9 percent with the equivalent of 1 1/2 to 3 cloves of garlic daily for two to six months. Garlic also thins the blood, making it less likely to form artery-clogging clots.

Health Bonus
A diet rich in garlic could mean a lower risk of several types of cancer, including cancer of the stomach and colon. Garlic also has the ability to bring down high blood pressure.

Glycemic Load: Very low

Unless you enjoy chopping, buy a garlic press. Keep your garlic in a cool, dark place, either in a plain old cup in your cabinet or in a fancier garlic keeper — the kind made of terra cotta or pottery with a lid to keep light out and holes in the sides to let air in. Don’t keep it in the fridge, or it will sprout quickly.

To peel garlic with minimal hassle, bang the side of the clove with the side of a large knife. The peel will practically slip off at that point.

Menu Magic

  • Add sautéed garlic to just about any chicken, fish, beef, or tofu dish.
  • Use roasted garlic as a spread for bread instead of butter or add it to mashed potatoes or pasta. To roast, break the heads into cloves but don’t peel them. Spread them on a baking sheet, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 375°F (190°C), shaking the pan occasionally, until tender, about 30 minutes. Then simply squeeze the cloves out of their skins.
  • Add minced garlic to rice or other grain dishes before cooking.
  • Add minced garlic to vinaigrette dressing.
  • Sauté vegetables such as spinach or mushrooms in olive oil and garlic.
  • Make a garlic/mustard marinade for beef by mixing spicy mustard, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and chopped garlic (lots of it). Add the beef to the marinade and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • If you’re grilling, feel free to add the whole garlic bulb to the grill. Turn it so all sides are exposed to the heat. It’s ready to eat when the skin is dark brown and peels easily.

Perfect Portion: all you can eat
The more, the better.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest