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Recently, one of my cousins posted a recipe for garlic soup on Facebook along with the advice to have it frequently during the winter to help defeat colds, flu, and viruses. I ‘liked’ her post and commented, “Grandma Clark used garlic as a cure-all.” Then I went merrily on my way.
But this post stuck in my mind and got me thinking about my grandmother and her advocacy of garlic as a wonder ‘drug.’
My Childhood with Grandparents
I lived with my grandparents for many years during my childhood — years which had a profound effect on who I am today. My grandfather wasn’t home during most of my waking hours because he worked long hours at his Shell gas station — 6am to 10pm. As a result, the profound effect that I mentioned came mainly from my grandmother.
Since I’m in my 70’s, the years I’m referring to were in the late 40’s and early 50’s. That was long before ‘health foods’ were popular. In fact, there weren’t many places to buy vitamins or other ‘health’ products. But my grandmother was already a firm believer that taking supplements, herbs, and honey was crucial for good health.
And despite no Whole Foods, GNC, or other places to buy health foods easily, Grandma had found sources. She regularly took me by the hand, and we traipsed from the far west side of Chicago to the mid-north area to buy the supplements, herbs, and honey she thought necessary — the kind of honey that would be called organic today.
Grandma boiled herbs and made me drink a juice glass of the liquid every day. How I hated it!
I also hated taking vitamins. No one else I knew had to take them. And eventually, Grandma found the place I was hiding the vitamins whenever she turned her back and gave me a serious spanking.
Garlic was definitely the cure all that she often used when people came to her for health advice. I remember a man who had something wrong with one side of his face. He’d been to doctor after doctor with no success. Grandma was his last resort. She used garlic and cured him completely. Sorry but I don’t know what was actually wrong or how she administered the garlic. Was it topical, or did he take it internally? I’m not sure.
Benefits of Garlic
Don’t just take my grandmother’s word for the benefits garlic can deliver. Modern scientific research has confirmed that garlic contains many compounds that deliver numerous health benefits.
· Even a small amount of garlic gives you many nutrients (manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium, calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin B1) with very few calories.
· In one study, garlic supplements reduced the number of colds by 63%, compared with 6% for those receiving a placebo.
· Garlic has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
· Garlic has been shown to reduce both total cholesterol and LDL.
· Antioxidants in garlic help prevent dementia.
There are many more possible benefits from garlic and garlic supplements, but I think you already get the idea — start using more garlic for optimum health.
Grandma’s Favorite Ways to Eat Garlic
Both Grandma and Grandpa loved to consume –
· slices of garlic in hot milk
· slices of raw garlic on homemade, buttered bread
They didn’t eat garlic like that very often because they didn’t want to offend visitors with the smell of the potent edible as it oozed from their skin for days afterward. But my grandfather retired and they moved to Central Illinois. When a snow storm hit, they’d chow down on their favorite ways to eat garlic because they knew no one would be coming to visit for a long time.
An Inoffensive Way to Eat Garlic
Of course, I use a lot of garlic in my cooking, but I don’t believe that a person gets enough garlic in cooked food to promote optimum health. Cooked food just doesn’t contain enough to protect someone from all the nasty bugs that want to invade our bodies.
You can probably imagine my happiness when I discovered pickled garlic (shown above) when I was leading tours in Russia and the Baltics. My Russian friends told me that I could pop the whole garlic cloves into my mouth, chow down on several, and my breath would not offend anyone — at least, not from the garlic.
I got the instructions to make my own pickled garlic when I got home. Tried it and failed miserably. So, when I went back to lead the tour again, I bought kilos of pickled garlic at the wonderful market in Riga, Latvia.
Since the garlic is pickled, it lasts indefinitely, and I still have a little left a few years later. Pretty soon I’m going to have to try to pickle it myself again. Hope I can be successful the next time.
By the way, garlic is generally pickled without being peeled, but when you eat it, pull off the outer skin before eating. I had some tour members who ate it — skin and all.
If you’re interested in testing out garlic this winter as a way to stay healthy, try this garlic soup and don’t just let it sit in the frig. You have to consume it.
My grandparents both lived into their mid-90’s. Was garlic responsible for their long lives? I don’t know, but it probably helped.