*Garlic is the name of the plant, Allium sativum, of the onion family Alliaceae.
*The part of this plant most commonly used is the bulb, which has many firm white or off-white or pinkish fleshy sections called cloves, separated by thin, white, papery non-edible layers of skin.
*Tender leaves, spathes, flowers and stems are also edible.
*Garlic is valued both as a cooking spice and for its medicinal properties.
*It has a very pungent aroma and a spicy and pungent flavor.
*It is used throughout the world as a seasoning and condiment to flavor soups, stews, curries, etc, especially meat and poultry dishes.
*Garlic is available in two forms –
(1) Fresh – Raw and fresh garlic cloves are used chopped, sliced, crushed or minced.
(2) Ground – Garlic cloves are dried and then ground and used just like fesh garlic. One medium clove of fresh garlic is equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon of ground garlic.
(3) Flakes – Fresh garlic is sliced and dried.
(4) Crushed or minced – Fresh garlic is crushed or minced and canned along with some vinegar.
*Buying and storage: Buy healthy looking fresh whole garlic free from bruises, wrinkles and slime. Store them whole in a well-ventilated area of the cupboard and they will keep for several weeks, or peeled and covered in vinegar in the refrigerated for up to 4 months. Store ground garlic in air-tight containers to preserve the flavor in the cupboard. Garlic can be frozen – unpeeled garlic cloves can be frozen as it is, and peeled garlic cloves have to be submerged in oil and frozen immediately.
Is it raw?
Yes and No.
*Yes, fresh and ground garlic are raw.
*No, because sometimes the crushed, minced and chopped available in the supermarkets may have some preservatives. Make sure you read the label.
1. Garlic is very rich in sulphur-containing compounds (thiosulfonates, sulfoxides, dithiins), like allicin, alliin, ajoene, which are responsible for the pungent odor. These also have many health promoting effects.
2. Regular consumption of garlic controls the blood pressure, lowers the cholesterol and triglyceride levels in blood, and prevents platelet aggregation, thus reducing the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke.
3. The sulphur containing compounds stimulates the secretion of nitric oxide that relaxes the blood vessels, maintains the blood pressure, na dimproves the boold flow through the vessels.
4. Inhibits the formation of plaque in and calcification of coronary arteries, thus preventing stroke.
5. Reduced formation of plaque also reduces the build up of LDL cholesterol in blood.
6. Excellent source of Vitamin C, a natural water soluble antioxidant. It enhances the body's immune system, increases the elasticity of skin and blood vessels, increases absorption of iron from the intestines, and prevents bruising of the skin.
7. Very good source of Vitamin B6, which helps in the synthesis of antibodies in the immune system apart from red blood formation, protein metabolism and functioning of the central nervous system.
8. Very good source of manganese, which is an essential cofactor in many enzymatic reactions in the body, especially in the production of energy and antioxidants defences.
9. Vitamin C, manganese and selenium together act as antioxidants in scavenging the free radicals, thus reducing the risk of degenerative diseases and heavy metal poisoning.
10. The sulphur-containing compounds, allicin, alliin, and ajoene, have anti-inflammatory properties. Regular consumption of garlic reduces the risk of anti-inflammatory diseases like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis.
11. Garlic also inhibits the enzymes lipoxygenase and cycloxygenase that are needed for the synthesis of prostaglandins and thromboxanes, thus reducing the pain and inflammation.
12. Has anti-carcinogenic properties that help reduce the risk of certain cancers.
13. Helps control the blood sugar, so it is good for diabetics.
14. Good source of minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and manganese, which play a very important role in maintaining proper metabolic activities of the body
15. Good source of other B-group vitamins that are essential for enhancing the release of energy from foods.