In addition to being used in gastronomy internationally, garlic has myriad health benefits.
Its use goes way back in time. There is historical evidence that the Egyptian and Indian cultures cooked with garlic 5,000 years ago.
“It is one of the main ingredients in Mexican and international dishes. People usually have it cooked or [add it to their dishes] dehydrated,” said Elvia Prieto Mendoza, a gastronomy graduate from Le Chef College in Boca del Río, Veracruz.
“Garlic has such a strong smell and flavor that diners often cannot stand it even when cooked. For this reason, I try to chop it finely or use garlic powder while cooking.”
Regardless, it is a valuable ingredient in Mexican cuisine. Cooks use it to prepare rice, salsas, traditional sauces — for instance, mole or pipián — and all kinds of meats, including pork, chicken, beef, rabbit or fish. There are many garlic-based preparations in Mexican cuisine, such as the so-called mojo de ajo (meat fried in blackened garlic) or ajillo (vegetables fried in garlic, guajillo pepper and white wine).
Besides its taste, people recognize the health benefits of this popular vegetable.
“Garlic provides many nutrients necessary for optimal body function. [Scientists] have found that it benefits especially the circulatory system,” said Prieto Mendoza.
It contains manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium, fiber, calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B1 — all important for optimal blood circulation.
For those suffering from circulatory problems, garlic is a great ally. Regular garlic intake can help lower blood pressure.
Garlic also brings benefits for pregnant women. Medical studies show that frequent garlic intake lowers the risks of premature labor and prevents infections during pregnancy.
People who suffer from high cholesterol can use garlic to help keep it at normal levels.
Garlic is highly beneficial for older adults who have arthritis. Rich in selenium and sulfur, it can help alleviate joint problems.
“I suffer from high triglycerides,” said Arturo Segarra Vidal, who lives in Veracruz. “My doctor prescribes me a low-fat diet, medications, and he recommended I eat garlic to lower them naturally. Garlic will help the medications bring my levels back to normal.”
Garlic also boosts the immune system, and it is a potent antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial agent.
Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos; edited by Kristen Butler.
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