Garlic and onions and shallots, oh my!

It’s finally allium season and we’re sooo incredibly happy about it. Allium is a large genus of fragrant, nutritious, bulbous herbs in the lily family that includes hundreds of species, such as onions, garlic, scallions, shallots, leeks, and chives (1). This genus offers a wide range of fragrant and nutritious little beauties with a variety of uses, such as culinary, medicinal supplements, personal care and so much more. At Goodful we feel that alliums are an important part of the diet, especially in winter months when the body is more susceptible to illness. 

Garlic has high antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunogenic (triggering an immune response) properties, and as such years of research has been conducted to determine the efficacy of garlic to prevent and treat ailments such as heart disease and even cancer. While more research still needs to be done, there’s been quite a bit of evidence that at least shows how garlic can be used therapeutically. 

To assess how garlic interacts with the immune system, a 90-day double blind, placebo-controlled parallel intervention study was conducted to gauge immune cells after participants were given 2.56g of aged garlic extract (AGE). It was found that the group given the extract had reduced severity of cold and flu symptoms (2).

So what gives garlic its antiviral properties? That would be the enzyme called Allicin that’s released once garlic is broken down whether it’s being chopped or chewed. To get the maximum amount of nutrients from garlic, it’s recommended to let the garlic clove stand or sit out for at least 10 minutes after chopping and expose little to no heat (3). The organosulfur compounds that give alliums their sulfuric smell is also what makes it a potent nutrient. This compound is responsible for the antimicrobial and antitoxin properties. Nutritionally speaking, garlic and other alliums are all star players when it comes to staying healthy this winter and all year round!

1. “Allium.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/allium. Accessed 13 Feb. 2022.

2.  Percival SS. Aged Garlic Extract Modifies Human Immunity. J Nutr. 2016 Feb;146(2):433S-436S. doi: 10.3945/jn.115.210427. Epub 2016 Jan 13. PMID: 26764332.

3. Kun Song, John A. Milner, The Influence of Heating on the Anticancer Properties of Garlic, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 131, Issue 3, March 2001, Pages 1054S–1057S,

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