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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Vampire Be Gone!

Halloween and food just seem to go together, and I’m not just talking candy here. Did you know that the green stuff Linda Blair’s character “projects” in The Exorcist was pea soup? And of course, one member of the monster quartet (i.e. the mummy, Frankenstein, the werewolf, and Dracula) has a very special relationship with a certain vegetable. According to mythology, garlic wards off vampires, so it was hung on doors and windows, worn as jewelry, rubbed on cattle, and used to expose vampires in hiding (true blood-suckers refused to eat it when offered).

But all folklore aside, garlic really does fend off some nasty and unwanted beasts, namely bacteria, heart disease, inflammation, high blood pressure, cancer, and type 2 diabetes complications (it’s like the disease police). About 10 years ago, a team of researchers found that freshly pressed garlic extract (even when highly diluted), reduced or killed a number of germs, including drug-resistant strains of bacteria. And that same antibacterial substance in garlic (allicin) has been shown to protect cells from cancer-causing substances and slow the spread of cancer (I think this allicin stuff deserves a medal).

Now, I could go on all day about the many published studies touting garlic’s health benefits, but I think you get the picture – it’s good stuff (good enough to tolerate a little garlic breath even!). Just one last tip - to get the most bang for your bulb, choose fresh garlic, and let it sit for about 10 minutes after chopping (this boosts allicin big time).

Ok, fun fact time:
-Garlic is closely related to onions, leeks, and shallots
-Garlic is a good source of vitamin C
-Garlic is also referred to as the stinking rose
-Rubbing your hands on a stainless steel bowl will quash garlic odor
-There are a number of annual garlic festivals around the country but the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California is one of the best known in the U.S. (over 4,000 volunteers staffed the event last year)
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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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