Garlic

Benefits of garlic

GarlicGarlic is a product which is used all over the world. It is used for cooking, flavoring and is also used as a traditional medicine. Garlic belongs to the same family as onion, shallots, chives and leek. While garlic is currently found all over the world, it has its origins in central Asia. This article will not only the address the history of garlic, but will also talk about the health benefits of garlic.

History

Garlic is native to central Asia and is considered to be one of the oldest plants in the world. Garlic has been around for over 5000 years. The first people to cultivate the plant were the Ancient Egyptians. The Ancient Egyptians used garlic for different purposes and garlic played, and continues to play, a major role in their culture. Garlic was considered to have sacred qualities. Also, it was placed in the tomb of Pharaohs since they believed it helped the souls of the Pharaohs. Moreover, garlic was also given to the salves building the pyramids. Garlic is believed to enhance strength and contribute to endurance. It was for this reason garlic was also honored by Romans and ancient Greeks. The Roman and the ancient Greek athletes would eat garlic before attending a sports events. The same was true for soldiers. They would eat raw garlic before going off to war to increase their endurance and their strength. Garlic is currently used all over the world. The use of garlic has spread throughout the globe by different tribes and explorers migrating. Once garlic became known in both India and China, this is where it was first used for therapeutic purposes. Ever since, garlic is used in many different cultures for both its medicinal properties as well as a culinary addition. The United States, China, South Korea and India are some of the biggest commercial producers of garlic in the world.

Description

While garlic is only a small vegetable, it has a very large reputation for its qualities. In some cultures garlic is used for a different purpose than its culinary additions or medicinal properties. In some cultures it is used to bring good luck and to protect one another against evil spirits. While this might not always be true, it is a fact that when garlic is used for cooking it transforms any meal into a healthy culinary experience full of flavor. Garlic is arranged in a bulb, which is a head, which is in average about 2 inches in diameter. This bulb consists of different small separate cloves which are almost similar in size. The cloves as well as the rest of the bulb are wrapped in paper-like sheets which can be peeled off. These sheets can be white, pink, off-white of more purple in colors. Moreover, while garlic might have a firm texture, it is relatively easy to crush and cut it. In cooking, garlic can be used either in whole cloves or can be cut in small slices or pieces to give the meal more flavor. Garlic has a very distinct taste. By some it is described to have a hot pungency which is shadowed by a subtle background sweetness. Elephant garlic also exists. These are large bulb of garlic and its cloves are also larges compared to normal garlic. However, elephant garlic is more related to leek and does not offer the same benefits as regular garlic. Garlic can also be consumed dry or in powder form. Fresh garlic, powdered garlic and dry garlic are all available throughout the year and can be purchased at almost any local supermarket.

Cardiovascular benefits

Garlic is known for having a positive influence on our cardiovascular system. The research that has been conducted on the cardiovascular system and garlic has mostly been on garlic powder and garlic oil. Research on our cardiovascular system and garlic in food form is still lacking and requires further study. Nevertheless, despite the lack of research on fresh garlic, different studies of food show that the allium vegetable contains cardiovascular-protective properties. These studies have shown that garlic lowers our cholesterol levels and our blood triglycerides. Moreover, research also states that garlic has the ability to prevent our blood vessels from becoming blocked. Garlic helps to prevent blood clots from forming in our blood vessels. The cardiovascular protection garlic provides has been linked to one specific property. This particular property is called ajoene. Ajoene is known for having anti-clotting properties. Ajoene prevents certain cells in our blood from becoming sticky. By preventing these cells to stick together is prevent forming a clot in our blood vessels. Moreover, garlic also has the ability to lower blood pressure. The property that is most relevant in lowering blood pressure is called allicin. This property helps our blood vessels to relax. This means that when they contract, our blood is forced to pass through smaller vessels and the blood pressure is thereby increased. Allicin prevents unwanted contractions and in turn prevents unwanted increased in our blood pressure.


Antibacterial benefits

While garlic has a positive influence on the cardiovascular system, garlic is probably known for its antibacterial properties. For many centuries, garlic has been used for its antiviral properties. Research on garlic has been conducted on its influence of the cardiovascular system, but also on its ability to control infections caused by viruses and bacteria. Also, research has also been conducted on its ability to control infections caused by other microbes, such as worms and fungi. A research study from 2005 has shown that fresh garlic contributes to help patients who are suffering from the bacterium present in burn wounds. Another feature of garlic is that it helps in the treatment of certain bacterial infections which are difficult to treat. Certain bacterial infections cannot be treated with pharmaceutical medicine since the bacteria have become resistant to prescription antibiotics. Similar to the research on garlic and its influence on the cardiovascular system, the research on antibacterial benefits mostly involves powdered garlic of extracts from fresh garlic. Research on the health benefits of garlic should therefore be extended. Research is currently also being done on the influence of garlic and the bacterium of helicobacter pylori. The helicobacter bacterium is a key risk for stomach ulcers. Research is currently being done on what the influence could be of garlic’s antibacterial benefits on this bacterium. While garlic might not be able to alter the course of the infection when the bacterium is present, it could contribute to the regulation of the body’s response to the infection.

Easy to include in diet

It is incredibly easy to include garlic to your diet. Garlic is a great addition to sauces, soups and savory dishes. It is also a great product to add to stir fry or wok-meal. It is recommended that when you add garlic to a stir fry to cook it first in combination with onions in order to get the right flavor. The strong taste of garlic is also a good addition when you want to give some extra flavor to bland recipes. The hot pungency of garlic adds a nice flavor to bland dishes. Garlic can be used in different forms. We have addressed the fact that garlic can be used in powder form, but garlic can also be used as garlic extracts, garlic oil and garlic paste. It is said that in order for garlic to provide the therapeutic benefits it is recommended to eat one clove with every meal. This implies that the minimum should be about two cloves a day. However, it is also commonly known that garlic has one big downside being bad breath. Thus, it is absolutely recommended to brush your teeth well after eating a clove of garlic. Moreover, garlic is also not recommended for people who use blood thinning medication or people who have bleeding disorder. Moreover, some people are actually allergic to garlic and get a rash when they eat it. Also it is recommended to crush or cleave garlic when you want to use it for cooking. If it is cooked before crushing it then it will not have the same health effects. Garlic can also be used as a dressing when combined with olive oil and a bit of salt. If you do not want to cut the small cloves, you can also use a garlic press which will do the work for you.

How to select and store

In order to have the maximum flavor and nutritional benefits of garlic, it is recommended to use fresh garlic. While it is understandable that garlic flakes, oil and powder are more convenient when cooking, they do not have the same health benefits and culinary flavor compared to fresh garlic. In order to know for sure that the garlic you are buying is good, gently squeeze the bulb to check it is not damp. Avoid buying damp garlic and garlic that has broken skin. Also, try and avoid garlic which has begun to sprout or is starting to mold. These are indications that the garlic is starting to rot and the flavor of garlic will also be different. The size of garlic is not an indication that it is good and fresh. Therefore, if your recipe requires you to use a lot of garlic, peel the big cloves and use those instead of buying a large bulb. Fresh garlic is available all year and can usually be found with the vegetables or next to the onions. Whole garlic bulbs usually stay fresh for about a month. However, when the bulb is opened and broken it usually only lasts for a couple of days. It is recommended to store garlic in a loosely covered container in a dark place. Also, try and avoid sunlight or heat since this could cause the garlic to mold and rot. It is not necessary to keep garlic in the refrigerator but it can be kept in the freezer. However, when garlic is stored in the freezer it changes its texture and flavor.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1794x
Added: 03-07-2016 20:51
Last modified: 31-07-2016 20:04

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