All of us are familiar with the term - "An Apple a day, keeps the doctor away". But, "A garlic a day, keeps the doctor miles away". Yes. You heard it right.This edible antibiotic is a powerful and wonderful food and known for its numerous medicinal properties. And it does keep the doctor miles away.
Herbalists and folk healers have used garlic to treat myriad diseases for thousands of years. Garlic has been intensively studied in recent years, and numerous research papers have been published in medical journals since the 1980's. Louis Pasteur , the great scientist was the first person to demonstrate garlic's antisceptic properties that was put to use in World war I and II.
Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion kingdom. It is a bulbous plant with more than major ten group and hundred varieties. The whole of garlic is called a head and when peeled gives about 10 to 12 cloves held together. Garlic is grown globally but China , by far is the largest producer of garlic accounting for about majority of the world's produce followed by India.
Reasons why you should add garlic to your food
- Garlic is a wonderful seasoning herb to add aroma, taste and added nutrition to your diet. It is very nutritious and low in calories. 100 gms of garlic will roughly provide 150 calories.
- The magic component present in garlic is called Allicin , that is formed when the sulphur containing compounds in garlic are released and distributed during cooking or chewing . Other Allicin products are Ajoene, allyl sulphides, S- allyl cystein.These products have been associated with anti clotting, anti fungal, anti hypertensive, anti oxidant and cholesterol lowering effects.
- Allicin in Garlic is known to reduce the cholesterol levels in blood. Numerous studies that have been conducted proved the Hypoholesterolemic effects of garlic on patients and has improved effects on their lipid profile.
- Garlic acts as an anti hypertensive agent and reduces increased blood pressure.
- Garlic is found to reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attacks and a condition called atherosclerosis that causes hardening of fat around the heat walls. It acts as a n anti clotting agent and blood thinning agent.
- Garlic prevents cholesterol oxidation in the cells and thus is a powerful anti oxidant.
- Consumption of more than 6 cloves a week has found to be effective in lowering the risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancer. It is also used in the treatment of lung cancer and breast cancer.
- Garlic components act as powerful anti viral, anti fungal and anti bacterial agents. It inhibits fungi causing Athlete's foot.
- Garlic consumption curbs vaginal yeast infections.
- Garlic is used effectively to treat gastro-intestinal disorders and indigestion.
- Garlic is used to treat fever, cough , head ache and congestion. A spicy soup prepared with lot of garlic seasoning stimulates and clears the nasal tract.
- Garlic is a Galactogogue recommended for new mothers as it is known to aid Lactation. Apart from increasing the milk supply, it is also known to reduce colic in babies when eaten along with food in moderation.
- Garlic is hypo glycemic in nature and helps lower blood glucose levels. Diabetics should use garlic in moderation.
- Many proponents of herbal medicine prescribe garlic for improved health benefits. Garlic is also
Culinary use of Garlic
- Used as a seasoning and flavouring agent. Check out my Garlic Fried Rice recipe.
- Used in variety of sauces and in pickling.
- Used as an important component in combination while cooking Onions, Tomatoes and Ginger in many cuisines.
- Used to extract oil and also applied to breads and pastas to enhance flavour.
How to get the best out of garlic
- To extract garlic's full nutritional power, it should be chopped or crushed and then left to air for 10 mins before cooking. This allows Allicin and other potential derivatives to be activated.
- Garlic can cause bad breath and leave a strong garlicky odour to your breath when consumed. It is caused by the chlorophyll content. This takes a while to disappear . Chewing parsley leaves, gum or rinsing with lemon juice helps to a certain extent. Remember not to sit too close to anyone if you have consumed lot of garlic.
- Consuming too much garlic causes indigestion. When handled raw, can cause severe skin irritation .
- Both fresh and raw supplements are said to enhance the effect of blood thinning medications. So, people who consume such medicines should consume garlic in moderation.