Garlic is a vegetable that belongs to the onion family and is also considered a herb used in cooking foods and making medicines. It is a species in the onion genus, Allium, with its close relatives including onion, shallot, leek, chive, Welsh onion, and Chinese onion.
Garlic is among the most important of the plants that are traditionally used in medicine today.
It is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world mostly grown in Central Asia and northeastern Iran with China producing 80% of the world supply. It has long been of importance in cooking worldwide and has a long history of several thousand years of consumption and use among humans.
It boasts of a number of vital benefits. We all use garlic in our cooking without knowing its benefits.
The garlic bulb is the most commonly used portion of the plant. The bulb consists of eight to 20 teardrop-shaped cloves enclosed in white parchment-like skin.
How should you eat garlic and how much of it should you eat per day?
The best way to eat garlic is by eating it raw on an empty stomach because it contains Allicin and it is released by chewing or mincing the herb. It reduces inflammation in the body and offers antioxidant benefits. This compound, however, gets diluted during the process of cooking.
Fresh garlic also contains an amino acid called alliin. When you crush or cut the clove, an enzyme called alliinase is released.
Chew and eat two cloves first thing in the morning on an empty stomach followed by a glass of water. This will improve your digestion and appetite.
Studies have shown that the powerful antibiotic properties of garlic are most effective when eaten on an empty stomach. When you eat it before breakfast, the bacteria are exposed to its action without any obstruction by the stomach’s contents.
Alternately, you can eat one garlic clove twice a day with your meals. If you are taking its pills (supplements), the doses range from 600 to 1,200 mg per day. A typical dose is one 300 mg dried garlic powder pill two to three times a day, or 7.2 grams of aged garlic extract per day.
Allicin, the primary biologically active compound in garlic, helps in thinning the blood and reduces cholesterol levels thereby improving your cardiovascular health. Allicin also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, antibacterial, and anticancer properties.
The only drawback in eating it raw is its pungent taste and odor it gives to your breath. To counter this disadvantage, you can go in for its supplements. However, enteric-coated supplements will be more helpful in this regard.
If you want to give it to children, please consult your health provider.
Nutrition in garlic
Raw garlic is 59% water, 33% carbohydrates, 6% protein, 2% dietary fiber, and less than 1% fat
It has immunity-boosting and potential antioxidative properties due to its nutritional content. It has low-calorie content and is free from fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar.
Its health-boosting properties are due to more than 200 chemicals it contains. It contains:
- sulfur compounds (allicin, alliin, and agoene)
- volatile oils,
- enzymes (allinase, peroxidase and miracynase),
- carbohydrates (sucrose and glucose),
- minerals (selenium),
- amino acids such as cysteine, glutamine, isoleucine, and methionine which help to protect cells from the harms of free radicals,
- bioflavonoids such as quercetin and cyanidin, allistatin I and allistatin II,
- vitamins C, E, and A which help to protect us from oxidation agents and free radicals,
- and other vitamins such as niacin, B1 and B2, and beta-carotene.
Nutrition in one clove of garlic
The following nutrition information is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture for one medium clove (3g) of raw garlic
- Calories: 4.5
- Fat: 0g
- Sodium: .5mg
- Carbohydrates: 1g
- Fiber: .1g
- Sugars: 0g
- Protein: .2g
- Calories: None
- Micronutrients: Garlic contains few vitamins and minerals, although a single clove does provide a small amount of vitamin C and manganese.
Nutrition in 100 grams of garlic
Though the nutritional value in one clove of garlic is not impressive, when expressed per 100 grams, it contains several nutrients in rich amounts (20% or more of the Daily Value). These include vitamins B6 and C, and the dietary minerals manganese and phosphorus.
100 grams of garlic are also a moderate source of certain B vitamins, including thiamin and pantothenic acid, as well as the dietary minerals calcium, iron, and zinc.
Wikipedia gives a detailed table of its nutritional content.
Consuming garlic every day benefits us across many body systems due to its medicinal properties. Its use in alternative medicine is well known and its benefits are time-proven.
It is effective in curing bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections, improves your immune system, and has anti-cancer and antioxidant features.
1) Antibacterial and antiviral properties
Garlic is useful in treating infections like the common cold and cough due to its anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. This is attributed to the active sulfur compound called Allicin, which helps improve our immune system. Please note that its powerful antioxidant properties help in fighting infections.
2) Antifungal properties
Due to these antioxidant properties, garlic is used in treating recurrent intestinal parasite infections and yeast infections. Here again, Allicin is responsible for this action.
3) Benefit in diabetes
Garlic contains no sugar and it stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreas, thereby helping in controlling blood sugar in diabetes.
4) Benefit on cholesterol
Garlic is a powerful antioxidant because it contains selenium, a trace element. It prevents oxidation of LDL, the bad cholesterol, and helps in preventing the formation of plaques on the arterial wall (called atherosclerosis). If you have high cholesterol levels, make it a habit of eating one to two cloves with lunch or dinner.
5) Anti-allergy properties
Allergy is a manifestation of our immune system. Because of its strong antioxidant property, garlic gets rid of the free radicals, which are responsible for so many ailments.
This action helps it to prevent seasonal allergies. However, rarely garlic itself can cause mild allergic reactions in some individuals.
6) Benefit on cancer
Garlic is also known for its anti-cancer properties. It contains selenium, which is a trace element found in the soil. Selenium is an antioxidant, which helps to fight the free radicals in treating cancer.
7) Benefit in pregnancy
In mothers who have had a history of a low weight baby, research shows that consumption of garlic by the mother during pregnancy helps to increase the weight of the baby. It also reduces the risk of pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia.
8) Prevents erectile dysfunction
There are two ways garlic benefits patients with impotency or erectile dysfunction. Due to its action on cholesterol, mentioned above, it increases blood circulation in the body including to the penis. This improves erection. It also stimulates the production of an enzyme called nitric oxide synthase, which improves blood circulation so necessary for a proper erection.
9) Improves skin
Due to the strong antioxidant properties of selenium, garlic removes the free radicals, which are responsible for skin wrinkles and aging of the skin. It should form one of the daily components of your diet that will help improve skin complexion.
10) Garlic helps control high blood pressure and heart
Garlic supplements are prescribed for hypertension to reduce blood pressure. It is ajoene, a chemical found in garlic, which keeps the blood thin and prevents the formation of clots. This helps in reducing raised blood pressure and prevent heart disease. The selenium reduces LDL, the bad cholesterol, and increases HDL, the good cholesterol, which makes it beneficial to the heart.
11) Improves iron metabolism
Garlic increases the production of an iron and protein compound called ferroportin. This is done by the active sulfur compound present in it. Ferroportin is the compound, which makes iron available in the body when needed.
12) For treating acne
Due to its antibiotic properties, the local application of mashed garlic works wonderfully well in treating acne. Team this up with eating its two raw cloves in the morning with breakfast.
13) Helps to lose weight
Garlic helps in weight loss in 2 ways:-
Firstly, Allisin present in it suppresses appetite, which helps in losing weight.
Secondly, it also stimulates the secretion of adrenaline, which increases metabolism and helps to burn calories.
14) Benefit on insect bites and skin warts
Apply crushed garlic on an insect bite wound or a skin wart for a speedy recovery.
Uses of garlic
You come across garlic being used in various forms in our day-to-day life. It is used as a medicine in health conditions, as powder, in making bread and butter. Even its peel and leaves of its plant are used in cooking
- Garlic is commonly used for cooking food as a flavoring agent.
- In medicine, it is used as alternative medicine and as a prevention for conditions associated with the cardiovascular system. These conditions include hypertension, high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, and atherosclerosis
- As a cleaning agent: Add 5 or 6 finely chopped cloves to a spray bottle filled with plain white vinegar. Let this soak for about an hour, and then spray this mixture onto any surface you would like to disinfect such as the kitchen top.
- Garlic products sold as herbal health supplements have medicinal uses because of their antibacterial and antiseptic properties. However, most of the home remedies for medical conditions are more effective if you consume it raw.
- For local application, apply garlic to the skin. It is found to be effective in treating fungal infections such as ringworm, jock itch, or athlete’s foot.
- Tender garlic leaves, which grow from its bulb are used in cooking and are popular as a vegetable in some parts of Asia. You cut the leaves, wash and clean them, and stir-fry them with eggs, or meat, or vegetables.
- Garlic powder has a different taste from fresh garlic. Due to its pungent flavor, the powder is widely used around the world as a flavoring agent in the making of mayonnaise sauces, salad dressings, gravies, stews, pickles, and more.
- Garlic is also used in the making of bread and butter spread. Spread its butter onto the bread slices and toast in an oven before eating. It can even be used as a pizza base.
When taken by mouth, raw garlic can cause
- bad breath
- a burning sensation in the mouth or stomach
- increases the risk of bleeding.
Before you start eating garlic every day, you would do well to talk to your doctor, especially when you are pregnant or having health problems like bleeding disorders, diabetes, high cholesterol, stomach ulcer, and liver or kidney diseases.