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Raw Garlic

Body+Soul, April/May 2005

Here's the goal: Eat three cloves of raw garlic this week. That may sound daunting, but it's easy. Try putting it on your pasta, in a salad dressing, or into a dip for vegetables or pita.

Why garlic? In the raw, garlic is one of nature's most effective health foods, more so than when it's cooked, as heat destroys some of its beneficial properties. Research indicates that garlic may help prevent cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure and reducing overall cholesterol levels, including short-term reduction of LDL (bad cholesterol), and inhibiting blood clotting. Garlic may also help ward off cancer; it stimulates the body's natural killer cells and may help to neutralize some of the carcinogens that make their way into our diet. The pungent, distinct aroma that garlic releases when you crush its cloves is a sulphur compound called allicin, a natural weapon against infection. A 2002 study also shows that a diet rich in garlic -- as well as other foods from the allium family, such as onions, scallions, shallots, and leeks -- may cut by half the risk of developing prostate cancer. As a natural antioxidant, garlic may also help protect our cells from degenerative changes, especially in the liver and the brain.

Make raw garlic a part of your healthy eating plan with these three easy recipes. Depending on your pungency preference, you can use one to three cloves per recipe.

Roma Tomato Salad with Feta and Garlic
Lemon, Sesame, and Garlic Hummus
Garlic-Cilantro Pesto Sauce with Sun-Dried Tomatoes