So, how many recipes do you see without Garlic…at least not many on this site! I love it…and secretly believe that it, coupled with ginger, are the magic ingredients that can make any food taste yummy! That its comes with so many benefits only makes it more worthy to me
Garlic is scientifically known as Allium sativum and famous for its medicinal value since time immemorial. Garlic cloves contain several noteworthy minerals, vitamins, anti-oxidants and phyto-nutrients with proven health benefits.
Its bulbs contain organic thio-sulfinites that on enzymatic activation can form allicin. Activation is often caused bulb disruption via crushing or cutting. Allicin is the most active component of garlic and has been known and proven to have several health benefits. Allicin reduces cholesterol production by inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase enzyme in the liver cells. Allicin also decreases blood pressure via nitric oxide based reduction in blood vessel stiffness. It also blocks platelet clot formation and has fibrinolytic action in the blood vessels, which helps decrease the overall risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD) and stroke. Research studies have implied that garlic may be a potent anti-carcinogen for stomach cancer. Further, garlic is known to have strong anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activities.
Garlic, a rich source of minerals and vitamins, contains potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and selenium. Selenium and manganese are required by several anti-oxidant enzymes in the body, which play an important role in aging and immunity. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.
Garlic also contains anti-oxidant flavonoids like beta carotene, zea-xanthin and vitamins like vitamin-C. While vitamin C is famous for it role in enhancing the body’s immunity, anti-oxidants have risen to fame for their role in keeping biological aging at bay. The following table lists the nutrient value of garlic per 100 grams.
While still in its early stages, research has implied that garlic consumption may actually help to regulate the number of fat cells that get formed in our body. This is a noteworthy discovery since it targets fat reduction at the very basic level. While it is possible to reduce the amount of fat stored in fat cells, it is not possible to reduce the number of fat cells except via natural cell death based on cellular wear and tear. This limits the amount of weight that can be reduced in any person in a given period of time. 1,2-DT (1,2-vinyldithiin), another of the garlic sulphur compounds has shown to inhibit the conversion of premature fat cells into mature fat cells.
How best to consume garlic:
- Allow garlic to stand for a while after chopping or cutting it. The process of chopping or cutting garlic activates allicin formation. Once formed, allicin is stable for a about 12 hours unless overcooked. While cooking garlic, try to cook it on a slow flame only till it light golden in colour
- Some of garlic’s unique components are most durable in food (versus processed extract) form. Allicin stays intact for only 2-16 hours at room temperature when it is present in purified (extracted) form. But when it’s still inside of crushed garlic, allicin will stay viable for 2-1/2 days. Hence try to use fresh (unpeeled) garlic for cooking.
- Garlic is known for its pungent ‘garlicky’ smell, which is caused by allyl methyl sulfide (AMS). AMS is a gas which is absorbed into the blood during the metabolism of garlic. From the blood, it travels to the lungs and from there to the mouth, causing bad breath and skin, where it is exuded through skin pores. Washing the skin with soap is only a partial and imperfect solution to the smell. Studies have shown sipping milk at the same time as consuming garlic can significantly neutralize bad breath. Mixing garlic with milk in the mouth before swallowing reduced the odor better than drinking milk afterward. Plain water, mushrooms and basil may also reduce the odor; the mix of fat and water found in milk, however, is most effective.
Fun facts about garlic:
- It belongs to the same species as onions, shallots, leeks, chives and rakkyos.
- It has a history dating back to 6000 years, with mention in Bible as well.
- There are a number of garlics with Protected Geographical Status in Europe
- Garlic flowers are a rare delicacy and their taste is very subtle and refreshing compared to the usual strong flavour of garlic.
- Like for a lot of other things, China is the largest producer of garlic, followed by India and South Korea.