Why Athletes Should Eat Raw Garlic

Vampires. Of course, the primary reason athletes should eat raw garlic is vampires. But aside from those long-fanged blood-suckers, there are a few other secondary reasons to eat it.

This week, we’ve got one of my favorite fresh, whole garlic recipes, and what a bit of raw garlic can do for you on and off the bike, trai:

Tuesday’s Healthy Fuel Recipe: Fresh Pickled Garlic

Ingredients:

  • whole garlic cloves, peeled*
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp whole pepper corns
  • pinch dried oregano
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • vinegar (I’ve used white)

Instructions:

Place garlic cloves, red bell pepper, and the rest of the ingredients, through sea salt, in a 16 oz. mason jar or container. Add olive oil. Fill jar with vinegar until full. Place in refrigerator for at least 3 weeks.

Eat raw, on salads, added to sautes, etc.

Go ahead and ride at night. No worries about vampires.

Comments:

Garlic smells, looks, and grows like it just *is* healthy for us,
am-i right? Sort of like asparagus and broccoli. One look, one smell, one taste, and you’re sure you’re getting healthier. Here’s what that wonderful garlic flavor is doing inside your body:

First, cardiovascular protection: Garlic is able to lower our blood triglycerides and total cholesterol, at least moderately. What’s more, it’s highly anti-inflammatory and highly anti-oxidant, which means less damage to blood vessel cells (where plaques get lodged and do damage), less oxidative stress, and more healing. Garlic has vast set of sulfur-containinng compounds that reduce both oxidative stress and inflammation, and these work to protect our heart, our vessels, and our cells.

Next, antibacterial and antiviral benefits: These benefits can reduce infections in our mouths, throats, stomachs, and GI tracts (including yeast overgrowth).

Third, cancer prevention. Like many other fruits and vegetables, allium vegetables (including garlic), have strong anti-cancer properties. In longitudinal studies, high intake of garlic is associated with reduced amounts of almost all cancers, (except breast and p
rostate, interestingly). In fact, it’s the sulfides (once again) that likely play the largest role in anti-cancer prevention. These sulfurs activate a molecule in cells that triggers many metabolic activities, including programmed cell death, in the cell nucleus when something’s gone array (such as overgrowth in the case of cancer and tumors).

Why raw? When it comes to vegetables, cooking is tricky. Some nutrients become more bio-available (well-absorbed) when cooked and some are destroyed. In the case of garlic, the less heat the better. In fact, it’s those wonderful sulfur compounds that are reduced with heat. So, eat raw when you can. Add to the end of cooking time when possible, rather than earlier on. And, try to heat no higher than 350 def F.

Bonus Recipes:
My other favorite raw garlic recipes:

Wonderful Asian Ginger Dressing

Best 10-Minute Fresh Salsa

 

Again, the primary reason is vampires. Secondarily, increase garlic in your diet to reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, and cell detox while increasing cancer prevention and antibacterial/viral action in your gut. Really it’s a win/win either way.

Fuel Your Adventure.  Nourish Your Body.

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***Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietician, sports nutritionist, avid endurance athlete, and owner of Apex Nutrition, LLC. She has partnered with Heights Performance to help clients get and stay healthy, lose fat, recover from injury, and reduce the risk of chronic disease. She is also an expert in endurance sports nutrition, and focuses on optimal performance, best strength to weight ratio, recovery, endurance and stamina. She teaches clients to eat nourishing, real foods without spending hours in the kitchen or hiring a personal chef. Kelli can help you put great nutrition into everyday life.***