Garlic provides more than a warm, rich taste in pastas and pizzas. Mounting evidence consistently links this plant to lower cancer risk. In one of the latest studies, men who ate less than a clove of garlic a day cut their risk of prostate cancer in half compared to men who ate none.
And it’s good for more than just prostate cancer. Studies also tie garlic consumption to the prevention of colon, stomach and possibly breast cancers. One of the most prominent garlic researchers in the U.S. states that garlic probably has broad anti-cancer effects throughout the body.
If you aren’t a garlic lover, you’ll be glad to know that the entire garlic and onion family contains cancer-fighting compounds. While the contents of garlic, onions, scallions and leeks differ slightly, all these foods have compounds that block cancer-promoting enzymes, promote DNA repair and regulate the cell life cycle.
Whole Garlic Better Than a Pill
Sometimes people turn to supplements because they think that large amounts of garlic are best, but this does not seem to be the case. One prominent researcher has reported benefits with 1-2 cloves of garlic a week; other researchers suggest that 4-5 cloves a week may be more ideal. Loading up with large amounts of garlic every day, however, may increase the risk of digestive problems.
Garlic supplements also perform inconsistently in cancer studies. These inconsistencies may be due to wide variations among garlic products. More likely, the many different compounds in whole garlic offer better protection because they interact with each other in complex ways not yet fully understood. Supplements contain only a few of these compounds.
Another misconception is that garlic must be consumed raw to be beneficial. It is true that when garlic is cooked immediately after peeling, certain enzymes are inactivated and cancer fighting benefits are lost. But if you peel and chop garlic, letting it rest 15 minutes before cooking it, the full benefits remain.
Add some garlic to your dinner with this easy side dish.
Garlic-Spiked Broccoli and Mushrooms with Rosemary
Makes 8 servings.
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 2-3 garlic cloves (minced)
- 2 cups sliced button or cremini mushrooms
- 4 cups chopped broccoli
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp. dried)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add mushrooms and sauté 3 minutes, until mushrooms release juice. Add broccoli and rosemary and cook 3-5 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Per serving: 27 calories, 1 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 3 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein,
Mediterranean-style dishes make good use of garlic. For a free brochure with more recipes, call the American Institute for Cancer Research at 1-800-843-8114, ext. 10, and request Healthy Flavors of the World: Mediterranean.