Since time immemorial garlic has been recognized in almost all the cultures for its medicinal as well as culinary properties. This wonderful herbal plant, grown for its underground root or bulb, contains many health promoting phyto-nutrient substances that have proven beneficial against coronary artery diseases, infections and cancers.
The root herb plant belongs to the family of Alliaceae of the genus Allium; and scientifically known as Allium sativum. It is believed to be originated in the mountainous Central Asian region from where it has spread all over the temperate and subtropical regions of the world.
Allium sativum is a perennial crop and is grown by methods similar to those used in growing onion. Fully grown plant reaches about 50 to 60 cm in height and bears underground bulbous root containing about 8-20 bulb lets known as cloves. The whole bulb is encased by several layers of white or mauve-tinged thin papery coverings.
Health benefits of Garlic
- Wonderfully flavorful garlic cloves contain many noteworthy minerals, vitamins, anti-oxidants and phyto-nutrients that have proven health benefits.
- Its bulbs contain organic thio-sulfinites such as diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide and allyl propyl disulfide that can form allicin by enzymatic reaction which is activated by disruption of bulb (like crushing, cutting etc).
- Laboratory studies show that allicin reduces cholesterol production by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase enzyme in the liver cells.
- Allicin also decreases blood vessel stiffness by release of nitric oxide (NO); thereby bring reduction in the total blood pressure. 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 also found that consumption of garlic is associated with possible decrease in the incidence of stomach cancer.
- Allicin and other essential volatile compounds in the garlic also found to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activities.
- Garlic is an excellent source of minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. The bulbs are one of the richest sources of potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium. Selenium is a heart-health protective mineral, and is an important cofactor for anti-oxidant enzymes in the body. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.
- It contains many flavonoid anti-oxidants like carotene beta, zea-xanthin, and vitamins like vitamin-C. Vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
Garlic cloves have amazingly high levels of vitamins and minerals. Just 100 g provides (in % of Recommended daily allowance)
- 95% of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine),
- 52% of vitamin C,
- 33% ofcopper,
- 21% of iron,
- 18% of calcium,
- 26% Selenium, and
- 73% of manganese
- but no cholesterol.
Selection and storage
- Garlic bulbs are generally harvested when the lower leaves turn yellow and showing signs of dryness. Later the bulbs are air dried under the shade for few weeks before sold in the market.
- In the store several forms of garlic found, such as whole bulbs, dried, individual cloves, processed cloves, powder or paste.
- Dry bulbs can be stored at room temperature placed in a cool dark environment away from humidity where they stay in good condition for several weeks. Garlic paste, however should be stored inside the refrigerator.
- This herb has been used since long time in many traditional Indian and Chinese medicines as remedy for cold, cough, bronchitis…etc.
- Garlic oil has been used as a local applicant for “ring worm” infection of skin.
- In modern medicine, this exotic herb intake is advised as health benefiting agent for its anti-microbial, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and immune boosting and cholesterol lowering properties.
Both cloves as well as tender green tops of garlic plant are used in a variety of recipes.
In general, leaves are less pungent than the cloves and used in recipes in a similar way like onion tops. The outer coat is generally peeled by hand and internal creamy white, smooth bulblet is either chopped using a knife or crushed just before adding to the recipes.
Here are some serving tips:
- Garlic is used to enhance the flavor of vegetable, meats and sea-food preparations.
- It is also used to add spicy pungent flavor in the preparation of breads, toast and Bruschetta (a grilled bread slices rubbed with garlic paste with toppings such as olive oil, pepper, tomato, cheese, meat…etc.)
- It is also been used in the preparation of season soups, and sauces.
- Tender garlic tops are used like vegetables just like onion tops along with vegetables, eggs in some recipe preparations in East Asian countries.
The sulfide compounds in the garlic metabolized to allyl methyl sulfide which is excreted through sweat and breathe producing unpleasant odor and breath (halitosis).
- Its cloves contains allicin which acts as blood thinner. It is therefore, advised to avoid in patients on anticoagulants like warfarin as the resultant combination might cause excessive bleeding.
- Garlic-in-oil as in the preparations of pickles favors growth of clostridium botulism which may result in a condition known as botulism (paralysis of nervous system). It is therefore, advised that garlic preparations should be preserved inside the refrigerator and should be used as quickly as possible.
Here are some of my healthy recipes that feature garlic:
- Beef and Bean Tacos
- Beetroot Soup
- Curried Chicken and Zucchini Soup
- Kumara and Coriander Soup
- Minestrone Soup
- Mushroom and Barley Soup
- Roasted Ratatouille with Rye Toast
- Split Pea Soup
- Super Bean Chili
Source : www.nutrition-and-you.com
Mellow white miso paste is the secret ingredient in this amazing roast turkey rubbed with Meyer lemon and roasted garlic. The miso gives the turkey a mildly salted taste without the hassle of brining....