April 19 is National Garlic Day

April 19 is National Garlic Day

If you or a loved one are a vampire, don’t leave the safety of your house on April 19, this Wednesday! It’s National Garlic Day, so we at Herbsea encourage you to learn why garlic is so much more than a flavor-enhancing bulb.

Long known by the dubious moniker “stinking rose,” garlic is a member of the lily family, and is closely related to onions, shallots, leeks and scallions. And, while we tend to immediately associate garlic with Italian cuisine, its use as a food and medicine originated in Asia more than 7,000 years ago!

Of course, modern research has shown several benefits to human health. There are numerous studies showing that garlic has a beneficial effect on cholesterol profiles, blood pressure and in helping to reduce cold symptom intensity; the latter may be due to its suggested antibiotic-like properties.

And did you know that there is more than one type of edible garlic? There are approximately 300 varieties grown throughout the world. And, as with anything else people enjoy, there is a Garlic Capital of the World – Gilroy, California.

Hundreds of studies have been performed on garlic, seeking to reveal and validate its health-promoting properties. A newer meta-analysis (which is a study of studies), sought to clarify how garlic performs. Previous studies have shown or suggested that garlic can slightly reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (the unhealthy cholesterol) in one to three months. This new meta-analysis, by Zeng et al, published in 2012 in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, reviewed 26 clinical trials of garlic’s impact on cholesterol.

The research team concluded that the evidence from the previous studies showed that garlic was indeed more effective than placebo in helping to promote healthier cholesterol levels, notably significant reductions in total cholesterol and in triglycerides. Interestingly, this team did not find that garlic had any true impact on other lipids, notably low-density lipoproteins and high-density lipoproteins (HDL, the healthy cholesterol).

If you are concerned about supporting your cardiovascular system, adding garlic may be a good idea. If you love the way it tastes, add it more frequently to foods – whole or minced, garlic adds a layer of flavor to stir fry. There are garlic supplements for those who want the benefits but don’t prefer the taste.

By the way, if you are someone who just loves garlic in foods, a real garlic fan or aficionado, make plans for the 39th Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, held this year July 28 to 30. Visit http://www.gilroygarlicfestival.com.

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