Garlic is a plant of the Allium (onion) family. Its close relatives are the onion, shallot, leek, chive, and Chinese onion. Garlic is arranged in a head, called a ‘bulb’. On the average there are about 10–20 cloves of garlic in a bulb.
Garlic is easy to grow and can be grown year-round in mild climates. Garlic plants are usually hardy and not affected by many pests or diseases. Garlic is widely used around the world for its pungent flavor as a seasoning or condiment. Garlic is available in many forms, from whole cloves and smooth pastes to powders and supplements like garlic extract and garlic oil.
Garlic has been cultivated for thousands of years and has is an indispensable ingredient of most cuisines. It is native to Central Asia, and grows wild in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. However, throughout ancient history, the use of garlic for its health and medicinal properties is was well documented by many major civilizations, including the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese. Currently the largest producers of garlic are China, India, South Korea, Egypt, and Russia.
Garlic is an essential ingredient in the cuisine of various regions, including eastern Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, northern Africa, southern Europe, and parts of Latin America. It is used in dressing, stew, curry, bread, dipping sauce, pickles, pretty much everything except desserts.
Garlic is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin B6, a very good source of vitamin C and copper, and a good source of selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B1, and calcium. However, it is the sulfur compounds in garlic that are the superstars in terms of health benefits. It is important to note the high concentration of sulfur in garlic since it is a property of garlic that is not found in most foods.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GARLIC
The sulfur compounds in garlic have been shown to offer health advantages in a wide variety of body systems, including the cardiovascular, immune, digestive, endocrine, and detoxification systems.
Improves Cholesterol Levels
Garlic reduces total and LDL cholesterol. The effect of garlic on blood cholesterol levels is so good and strong that allopathic, homeopathic and herbal medicines, all are garlic based.
Boosts Immune System
Garlic is known to boost the function of the immune system. It increases immunity against the common cold, and reduces the average length of cold symptoms.
Curtails Blood Pressure
Studies have found garlic to have a significant impact on curtailing blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
Help Detoxify Heavy Metals
The sulfur compounds in garlic have been shown to protect against organ damage from heavy metal toxicity.
Strengthens Cardiovascular Health
Garlic provides us with cardiovascular benefits in a variety of ways. There are many ways in which garlic provides cardiovascular support, but the best researched are the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties found in garlic. Further support to the cardiovascular system comes from the anti-platelet activity of garlic. Researcher has shown that garlic decreases the risk of blood clotting due to excessive platelet clumping.
Various health benefits from garlic combine together to make it helpful in reducing the risk of numerous cardiovascular diseases, including heart attack, coronary artery disease (CAD), high blood pressure (hypertension), and atherosclerosis. In addition, it is notable that the flexibility of the blood vessels has been shown to improve with garlic consumption.
Helps Prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Garlic contains antioxidants that support the body’s protective mechanisms against oxidative damage.
The combined effects of the antioxidant properties, as well as effects of reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, may reduce the risk of common brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
ADVERSE EFFECTS OF GARLIC
- Garlic is known to cause bad breath and body odor. Sipping milk at the same time as consuming garlic can significantly neutralize bad breath.
- People sensitive to garlic may show symptoms such as irritable bowel, diarrhea, mouth and throat ulcerations, nausea, or breathing difficulties.
- Applying garlic topically for purposes like naturopathic uses and acne treatment may cause serious burns.