Garlic: Benefits, Side-effects, Supplements, Uses, and Capsules

Garlic (Allium sativum) is a bulbous plant characterized by a relatively large, usually globe-shaped underground bud that has thick, fleshy, overlapping leaves that grow from a short stem. It is closely related to onions, shallots, and leeks and has been used in various ancient cultures of Egypt, Greece, Rome, and India. It is believed that garlic first appeared in Asia, particularly China, before 2000 BC as both a food and a medicinal agent. 

Garlic contains a sulfur compound called allicin, responsible for its pungent smell and various health benefits like controlling cholesterol levels, preventing cardiovascular disease, and as an antibacterial agent. However, it also has unwanted side effects such as bad breath, skin irritation, and body odor.
Garlic can be eaten raw but is available in different forms like garlic extracts and supplements. Various nutraceutical firms are now producing garlic supplements for their medicinal properties. Some notable companies are Nature’s Way, NOW, Omega Nutrition, and Herb Pharm.

Garlic is often used as a savory flavor enhancer in culinary dishes throughout the world, especially in  Asian, African, European, Latin American, and North American cuisine. It has been utilized as an antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal agent to help the body resist and destroy viruses and other microorganisms by having a direct effect on said agents and also by boosting the immune system.

What Are the Proven Benefits of Garlic?

The proven benefits of garlic involve combating inflammation and positively impacting heart health. Research conducted by Jan Borlinghaus et al. shows that garlic contains organosulfur compounds (OSCs), the active constituent that alleviates viral infections like colds and flu. As disclosed by the USDA, this vegetable is also rich in quercetin, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Quercetin can minimize the risk of allergies and enhance immune response, which may help prevent infection from spreading throughout the body.

Taking garlic helps to reduce cholesterol levels, as reported by Dr. Clare Stevenson and her peers as published in Annals of Internal Medicine. In another study led by Dr. Reid, released in the National Library of Medicine, garlic helps lower blood pressure in patients with treated but uncontrolled hypertension.

1. Contains Health and Medicinal Properties

Throughout history, garlic has primarily been used for its health and medicinal properties in China. Chewing, slicing, or crushing it releases sulfur-containing compounds that contain antibiotic and antifungal properties. The release of hydrogen sulfide has been shown to relax blood vessels and provide anti-cancer effects. 

2. High Nutritional Value

Even when used in small quantities, garlic still retains its health-promoting properties due to the enzymes and compounds it contains. The chemical composition of garlic is influenced by its variety, origin, growing location, season, climate, and cultivation practices. According to the USDA, fresh garlic contains the following:

  • vitamins C and B6
  • Minerals (calcium, sodium, iron, germanium, and selenium)
  • carbohydrates
  • dietary fiber 
  • proteins 
  • amino acids 
  • lipids
  • organic sulfur compounds 
  • phenolic compounds 
  • complex substances (such as saponins, lectins or agglutinins, and prostaglandins)

A publication in the American Cancer Society Journal by Dr. Arabinda Das suggested strong evidence that organic sulfur compounds found in garlic suppress cancer growth. This study has found that all three pure organic-sulfur compounds— DAS, DADS, and DATS are effective in eliminating cancer cells in the brain, and DATS has been shown to be the most potent.

Their recommended dosage of garlic should never exceed 5% of a person’s diet due to its high toxicity if used in excessive doses.

3. Low Calorie

Garlic is highly nutritious but has very few calories. The number of calories in a food or drink can indicate how much energy it contains. If we eat more calories than we use up, the excess is stored as fat in our bodies. The more calories a food has, the higher the potential energy output. 

In food preparation, garlic is used in tiny quantities. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate guidelines, it is on the list of foods you can include in your diet. While garlic intake may have benefits, they’re only applicable if the person eats it regularly.

4. Improves Immune System

Garlic includes compounds like allicin that help the immune system fight germs. A study published in the Journal Of Immunology Research by Dr. Bayan et al. shows that garlic can improve immunity by stimulating specific cells in the body. In particular, it encourages macrophages, lymphocytes, natural killer (NK) cells, dendritic cells, and eosinophils to function better. This is done by modulating cytokine secretion, immunoglobulin production, phagocytosis, and macrophage activation. Dr. Bayan and her team have shown that garlic helps reduce the risk and shorten the duration of infection by helping to alleviate symptoms. Regularly consuming garlic helps prevent colds and flu.

Bayan’s team suggests that taking 2-3 cloves of raw or cooked garlic a day or drinking garlic tea will not only relieve your stuffy nose and bring relief from colds; it will also build your immune system over time against these frequent visitors.

5. Regulates the Blood Pressure

A study conducted by Karin Reid and Peter Fakler published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that people with hypertension saw their systolic and diastolic blood pressure drop after taking a garlic extract. High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects 30% of adults worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It causes the heart to work hard, leading to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

New research headed by Richard Cohens suggests that garlic increases the production of nitric oxide which is produced by basically all types of cells in the human body. It’s a vasodilator, meaning it relaxes the inner muscles of the blood vessels which cause them to widen. In turn, nitric oxide increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure. Another 2016 study published by Dr. Karin Ried provided evidence that aged garlic extract supplements lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.

6. Reduces Cholesterol Levels

Daily consumption of garlic is an excellent way to lower cholesterol levels due to the antioxidant Allicin. Garlic studies suggest that 600-1,200mg of garlic per day is used between multiple doses. The minimum effective garlic dose is 1 clove, eaten 2-3 times a day.

Cholesterol is a type of fat that performs essential functions in the body, including preserving cell membranes, facilitating cell signaling, and synthesizing certain hormones. It’s also needed to make vitamin D and coenzyme Q10.

There are two kinds of cholesterol: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol, and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or “good” cholesterol. You may be at risk for serious health problems if your blood shows too much LDL cholesterol compared to low HDL cholesterol levels. A 2016 study issued in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine decided that a garlic-lemon juice blend improves cholesterol levels.

A review of studies from 1955 to 2013 also found that garlic “moderately to significantly” reduces total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels when consumed for more than two months. Consuming garlic over a more extended period may result in an 8% drop in total cholesterol.

Puja Agarwal Ph.D. says that, ideally, you would have to eat about four cloves of fresh garlic a week if you want to reduce cholesterol levels.

7. Meets Antioxidant Needs

Increasing intake of antioxidants can help protect the body’s cells against free radicals, unstable molecules from external sources such as pollution, cigarette smoke, or radiation. Experts agree that too many free radicals can lead to oxidation stress – an unpleasant condition associated with many types of chronic illnesses, including heart disease.

Garlic contains antioxidants, including selenium (a micro-nutrient that helps promote overall health), vitamin C (which has protective properties), and phytochemical quercetin (which can prevent inflammation).  According to Japanese studies, aged garlic extract increases the expression of antioxidant enzymes through the Nrf2/ARE pathway. By reducing cholesterol and blood pressure and providing antioxidants, garlic could have a positive effect on lowering the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

 

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8. Helps The Liver

The consumption of fresh garlic helps to protect the liver from natural and environmental toxins. The liver is one of the body’s major organs because it filters all substances that enter and leave the body. It maintains good blood circulation and breaks down the nutrients in food so they may be distributed throughout the body. The liver plays a big part in the body’s defense system and helps get rid because of toxins that affect the entire body’s function.

The medicinal benefits of garlic have drawn our attention due to its immense properties to keep the liver healthy by promoting its purification and speeding up its function. Garlic helps the liver activate the enzyme cytochrome, which helps the molecules become more soluble in water, making it easier to flush them out of the body. In addition, it also has high levels of the natural compounds allicin and selenium, which aid in liver cleansing.

Experts recommend using at least four cloves of fresh garlic a day in food preparations. A good tip is to add fresh, minced garlic to meals at the end of the cooking process to preserve the enzymes and nutrients. 

Another aspect of garlic’s positive influence on liver function is its effects on cholesterol. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition has confirmed that the daily use of fresh garlic extract reduces pre-existing high triglyceride and VLDL levels in the liver.

9. Improves Athletic Performance

Athletic performance is the ability of an athlete to perform physical routines or specifically designed movements in a sport. During exercise, garlic releases nitric oxide, a gas that relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. This gas also increases oxygen delivery to the muscles. Ancient Greek athletes ate garlic before getting into physical contests to boost their performance.

Currently, modern athletes (and regular people, too) use it for reducing exercise-induced fatigue. Tracey Brigman, a nutrition expert at the University of Georgia, says choosing whole over minced garlic provides more health and medical advantages. Allicin in garlic can also be taken as a supplement in pill form to improve athletic performance.

10. Reduce Bones Loss

A study conducted by Mukherjee, M. et al, has proven that garlic helps to stave off bone loss in females by increasing estrogen levels. Trends in dietary analysis revealed the consumption of garlic had the most potent protective effect against radiographic hip osteoarthritis. Furthermore, diallyl disulfide, a compound found in garlic and other alliums, inhibits the expression of matrix-degrading proteases, providing a likely mechanism of effect.

A daily dose of garlic extract was proven to decrease estrogen deficiency and help combat osteoarthritis. 

11. Food Tastes Better

The flavor of garlic is bold and intense, bordering on spicy when raw and nutty when cooked. Sulfur compounds, including diallyl disulfide, contribute to its “mustard-like” flavor profile. When garlic is dried and crushed, its raw taste disappears and becomes much better for seasoning your dishes.

Linda J. Harris of the Department of Food Science and Technology University of California suggests that garlic should be stored in a dry, well-ventilated location in breathable containers such as mesh bags. The more garlic is chopped, the more Allicin is produced and the stronger the flavor. However, there’s no established perfect way to cut it because it all comes down to preference.

What Are the Uses of Garlic?

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD): Cardiovascular disease is a term for a number of diseases related to the heart and blood vessels. Some of these conditions are caused by fatty deposits building up in the arteries (atherosclerosis) thereby increasing the risk for blood clots.

Garlic and its preparations have been shown to help prevent and treat the following cardiovascular diseases:

    • Atherosclerosis
    • Hyperlipidemia
    • Thrombosis
    • Hypertension
    • Diabetes
    • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
  • Cancer: This is a term for over 100 life-threatening diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and invade nearby tissues. Cancer cells can also reach other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems. Diallyl sulfide (DAS), diallyl disulfide (DADS), and diallyl trisulfide (DATS) extracted from garlic have been shown to possess anticancer activities in human glioblastoma cells based on a study published in the American Cancer Society Journal by Dr. Arabinda Das
  • Common Colds: Many different viruses can cause the common cold, including chest and head ailments. These illnesses happen when cells in your body become filled with fluid or thick mucus due to an infection. Garlic is believed to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties which can reduce or relieve common colds according to research led by Elizabeth Lissiman et al., in 2014.
  • Gum Disease: Also generally called periodontitis, it is a condition that can lead to tooth loss. Evan Frisbee, DMD of WebMD, describes periodontitis as an advanced stage of gum disease. It starts with bacterial growth in the mouth and may end—if not properly treated—with severe damage, including the destruction of tissue around the teeth. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, researchers found that garlic intake can be effective as a preventative measure for periodontitis.

Garlic and Cardiovascular Health

According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death globally, with 85% of these deaths attributed to heart attack and stroke. More than 17 million people died from CVD in 2019. Research shows that garlic has many various health benefits, including those that are advantageous to the heart.

Many studies have found that garlic may contribute to a healthy circulatory system by preventing cell loss, regulating cholesterol, and decreasing blood pressure. Additionally, other research has found that it can reduce plaque buildup in arteries.

A 2019 study published in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine headed by Karin Ried showed that taking garlic supplements could lower blood pressure. This decrease reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 16-40%.

Garlic and Cancer Treatment

Raw garlic and its extract have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer in epidemiological studies. More than 2,000 research papers have been published on the chemical compounds that make up Allium sativum

Increased interest in using garlic for cancer prevention has led to an examination of the molecular effects of “homemade” garlic extract (GE). Compared with traditional remedies, there are some benefits to using GE related to cancer treatment. One clove of garlic contains a variety of phytochemicals with potential cancer-fighting benefits. While the indication that it lowers colorectal risk is the strongest, this vegetable is also being studied for its function in reducing the risk for other forms of cancer. 

Garlic and Common Cold

On average, adults come down with colds two to four times a year, while kids get six to eight. A 2014 study looked at the effects of aged garlic extract (AGE) on colds. Participants who took the extract had fewer episodes of colds than those who were given a placebo. It was also noted that the AGE group reported less severe symptoms if they did catch a cold. This suggests that AGE could help reduce inflammation, not just the flu and common cold.

What Are the Side-Effects of Garlic?

When taken by mouth: Garlic is likely safe for most people and can even provide health benefits when eaten. However, it can cause some side effects when swallowed since it is rather potent. These side effects may include:

  • bad breath 
  • heartburn
  • gas
  • diarrhea
  • bleeding
  • allergic reactions 

When applied to the skin: The use of garlic on the skin can cause inflammation and blisters. The severity of garlic burns can be increased by several factors: concentration, freshness, duration of exposure, application area, pre-existing skin condition, and individual reactions.

What Is the Nutritional Value of Garlic?

Garlic has a high nutritional value containing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help prevent heart disease, amongst other illnesses. A single clove of raw garlic contains 4.5 calories, 2.81 mg of vitamin C, carbohydrate 993 mg, protein 191 mg, calcium 5.43 mg, iron 0.051 mg, and potassium 12 mg. These values are based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

It is not known how much garlic must be taken to have a beneficial effect. The dosage of raw garlic touted in medical journals is usually one to two cloves per day. An equivalent dose of 300 mg dried garlic could be taken up to three times a day for a full therapeutic effect.

What Is the Vitamin Profile of Garlic?

Vitamins are essential for the body to grow and function normally. Each vitamin has specific jobs. With lower levels of certain vitamins, you may be at risk of getting health problems. Garlic cloves have amazingly huge levels of vitamins. The following are the vitamin values per 100 grams of garlic based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) website.

  • Vitamin A- 9 IU
  • Vitamin B1/ Thiamine- 0.2 mg
  • Vitamin B2/ Riboflavin- 0.11 mg
  • Vitamin B3/ Niacin- 0.7 mg
  • Vitamin B5/ Pantothenic acid- 0.596 mg
  • Vitamin B6/ Pyridoxine- 1.24 mg
  • Vitamin B9/ Folate total- 3 ug
  • Vitamin C total ascorbic acid- 31.2 mg
  • Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)- 0.08 mg
  • Vitamin K- 1.7 µg
  • Choline total- 23.2 ug
  • Carotene, Beta- 5 ug
  • Lutein + zeaxanthin- 16 ug

In modern medicine, garlic is advocated as a health-benefiting food due to its vitamins and multiple health advantages, which are supported by centuries of use and research.

What Is the Mineral Profile of Garlic?

Like vitamins, minerals are essential for the body’s growth and physiology. Minerals help with many biological processes, from building strong bones to sending nerve impulses. Minerals are also utilized to synthesize hormones or maintain a regular heartbeat. The following are the mineral values per 100 grams of garlic based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) website.

  • Calcium-181 mg
  • Copper-0.299 mg
  • Iron-1.70 mg
  • Magnesium-25 mg
  • Manganese-1.672 mg
  • Phosphorus-153 mg
  • Selenium-14.2 µg
  • Zinc-1.160 mg

What Are the Forms of Garlic?

Garlic can be taken in several forms to meet the user’s individual needs. The most popular form is garlic pills, e.g., tablets and capsules with an enteric coating to prevent ‘garlic breath.’

1. Garlic Extract

Many people enjoy garlic for its smell and rich nutrient content, but it can be hard to consume due to its strong flavor. An alternative is garlic extract (a common garlic supplement) which has the same health benefits as fresh garlic bulbs.

Aged garlic extract (AGE) is a safer and more effective form of processed garlic. AGE is created via the aging of garlic. Fresh garlic is sliced, macerated, and placed in a 15 to 25% ethanol environment for 18-20 months. The incubation medium or extract is then filtered and concentrated to dryness. AGE is used for immunity and is an antioxidant. It also enhances other cellular antioxidants like glutathione, which helps maintain a healthy immune system and discourages toxicity and toxic peroxides. The product is an ingredient in many cold-prevention medicines and supplements.

Based on a case report published in Urological Research, a patient taking aged garlic extract has experienced renal hematoma after an extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) procedure. The bleeding was attributed to garlic’s antiplatelet action. Studies show that herbal supplements such as garlic extracts should be stopped for up to 15 days before undergoing specific tests and treatments to minimize the risk of bleeding.

 

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2. Garlic Supplement

A dietary supplement is a product taken by mouth that contains at least one ‘dietary ingredient.’ Dietary ingredients are essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs or botanicals. Allicin, which is found in garlic, is a scientifically proven ingredient commonly used in certain dietary supplements.

Garlic has been touted as an essential nutrient for many conditions, including high blood cholesterol and hypertension. While generally safe to consume, garlic supplements have some possible side effects that can be significant, including an increased risk of bleeding and drug interactions.

Garlic supplements have been shown to boost the immune system, thereby helping to prevent the severity of everyday illnesses such as flu and the common cold. Human studies have found garlic supplements to lower blood pressure and reduce LDL cholesterol by about 10-15%. Garlic products sold as health supplements such as Vital Nutrients, Douglas Labs, Dr. Mercola, etc., may vary widely in the amount of Allicin, the active ingredient in garlic. 

3. Garlic Powder

Garlic powder is made by dehydrating garlic before milling it down to a finer consistency and can be an excellent replacement for fresh garlic. It is mainly used as a seasoning in various dishes because of its rich flavor and aroma. McCormick garlic powder provides a flavorful addition to just about any dish without overwhelming it.

Garlic powder has been shown to boost immunity and act as an anti-inflammatory agent. It can also protect you from food poisoning by destroying the causative bacteria. However, garlic powder can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms. People with garlic intolerance may experience heartburn or diarrhea. 

4. Garlic Pills and Capsules

Garlic’s history of offering health benefits has led to the creation of garlic pills. Since allicin becomes less potent after cutting or crushing fresh garlic, scientists at pharmaceutical companies found a way to keep the compound stable in the form of oil. Garlic oil is made through steam distillation, this process extracts the oils from raw cloves. It is then stored and taken in capsules or pills. 

Research indicates that garlic oil supplements may have varying levels of effectiveness depending on the quality of the supplement. Garlic pills provide many of the same benefits as the plant itself. Oral intake of Progressive Labs garlic capsules has been suggested to help treat high blood pressure, coronary artery disease (hardened arteries), stomach cancer, colon cancer, and rectal cancer. It may also prevent tick bites.

Herbs like garlic are healthy when consumed as food but can be harmful when taken as pills and capsules in high quantities. Garlic can alter liver enzymes, thin the blood, and change kidney functions. Get advice from your healthcare provider about which dose might be most appropriate for your condition.

5. Raw Garlic

Garlic is usually consumed cooked; however, it can also be eaten raw, which might be better since raw garlic retains higher amounts of Allicin. Despite its robust and savory flavor, raw garlic is safe to eat, and it adds a great touch to many dishes. It is common to add raw garlic to dips, dressings, and sauces, like aioli and pesto.

Raw garlic is high in nutrition and low in calories. It can help lower cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. Uncooked garlic also assists in the detoxification of heavy metals.

Common side effects of eating raw garlic may include unpleasant breath and body odor, heartburn, burning in the mouth or throat, and diarrhea.

6. Cooked Garlic

Fresh raw garlic extracts have anti-inflammatory effects, but short-term heating can reduce them. This finding comes from a study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. Its strong, raw flavor is the reason why it is typically cooked before eating.

Researchers found that oven baking (392 degrees Fahrenheit) or boiling (up to 3 minutes) did not negatively affect the ability of garlic in inhibiting platelet aggregation, according to the study announced in 2007 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Heating garlic for more than 10 minutes can eliminate its typical anti-clotting effects. It is recommended to crush it first and add it to the dish toward the end of the cooking time to retain its beneficial properties. Cooked garlic can still improve health and boost immunity, albeit at a milder rate. The primary benefit of cooked garlic is that it is more palatable and enjoyable than raw garlic.

7. Processed Garlic

Garlic was traditionally only available as large bulbs but today garlic can be found jarred whole, sliced, or finely minced. Though the flavor is not as flavorful as fresh garlic, processed garlic is more than just a time-saving convenience.

The ability of garlic to produce hydrogen sulfide is not affected by the manufacturing processes. Commercial garlic still promotes vasorelaxation, thereby lowering the blood pressure and improving blood flow to all the vessels.

What Are the Garlic Types?

Garlic is grown and marketed under different names. It can be hard to tell the difference, but science has provided insights into this confusing topic. 

Botanically, all of the typical culinary garlic is in the species Allium sativum. (This does not involve elephant garlic, which is the species Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum.) There are two subspecies within Allium sativum: the hardneck (ophioscorodon) and softneck (sativum). 

According to Dr. Gayle M. Volk, as published in the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, garlic types can be further classified into ten varieties. Artichoke and Silverskin are softneck garlic types. Hardneck garlic cultivars include varieties such as Rocambole, Porcelain, Marble Purple Stripe, Purple Stripe, Glazed Purple Stripe, Turban, Asiatic, and Creole type garlic.

Hardneck garlic is more savory, and the cloves are bigger and simpler to peel than soft necks. It usually produces one layer of clover surrounding the stalk in its bulb. Softneck garlic, on the other hand, usually has 12 to 20 cloves arranged in three to six layers in a bulb. The softneck type has the best storage life and is easier to braid than hardnecks. 

What Is the Taxonomy of Garlic?

The taxonomy of garlic classifies the numerous species of the plant-based on their morphology. It focuses on how garlic is categorized, named, and described.

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Phylum: Spermatophyta
  • Class: Magnoliopsida 
  • Order: Asparagales
  • Family: Amaryllidaceae
  • Genus: Allium L.
  • Species: Allium sativum L

Garlic belongs to the angiosperms, one of four groups in the Kingdom Plantae. It has photosynthetic chloroplasts and reproductive properties, which grant it a place in this Kingdom. Garlic has roots, leaves, stems, and structures that produce seeds which is a characteristic of the plant phylum Spermatophyta. 

The order of Asparagales is a diverse group that includes monocots. Garlic belongs to this order because it has a single leaf when it begins to sprout. The family Amaryllidaceae consists of bulbous plants, which is a distinct characteristic of garlic. The genus Allium is Latin for garlic, and the type species for the genus is Allium sativum, meaning “cultivated garlic.”

How Do Scientists Classify Garlic?

Garlic is classified by scientists based on its characteristics, structural parts, and functions. Carl Linnaeus first described the genus Allium in 1753. Allium is part of the Amaryllidaceae family under the Allioideae subfamily. In some older classification systems, Allium was classified as being part of the Liliaceae family. However, modern research has shown that the grouping is inaccurate. Allium is one of the 57 genera and has more than 500 species. According to classification systems that recognize the Alliaceae, this is the largest genus of Amaryllidaceae and the Alliaceae as a separate family.

What Is the History of Garlic?

Cultures all over the world have used garlic for thousands of years. Five thousand years ago, ancient Egyptians and Indians utilized it, while records of the Babylonians’ usage of the herb goes back only 4,500 years. As far as writings suggest, garlic was grown in China as far back as 4,000 years ago.

Garlic is a staple of Central Asian cuisine because it is native to that part of the continent. Today, it can be seen growing wild only in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. In earlier times, garlic grew wild in a much larger region including the Mediterranean, China, India, Egypt, and Ukraine. 

Humans have been migrating and traveling through Central Asia for centuries, collecting wild garlic along the way. People today carry on this tradition by cultivating garlic as food and medicine.

Garlic is a widely-grown crop produced both by local and larger-scale farmers. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, garlic planting covers an estimated two and a half million acres, which accounts for about 10 million metric tons of the total garlic produced globally.

What Is the Etymology of Garlic?

garlic (n.)

Middle English garlek, from Old English garlec (West Saxon), garleac (Mercian), “garlic,” from gar “spear” (about the clove), gar, + leac “leek.” Garlic-bread is attested by 1947.

What Is the Evolution of Garlic?

A study has shown that garlic most likely evolved from the wild garlic, A. longicuspis. It probably developed in South-central Asia, in the so-called “garlic crescent” running east from the Black Sea through the southern Caucasus Mountains of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, an area where garlic remains popular today. The rugged foothills of the Himalayas are most likely the true birthplace of garlic. However, it was well known and used in almost all early civilizations, including Babylonians, Egyptians, Romans, and Chinese.

What are Some Food Recipes that Include Garlic?

A clove or two of garlic can add plenty of punchy flavor to a dish for just a handful of calories.  Here are some popular garlic-infused recipes. Some are easy, like soup, others more involved like entrées, but each can make the kitchen smell amazing.

  1. Garlic-Chili Vinegar
  2. Fermented Garlic Honey
  3. Garlic Broth
  4. Garlic Fried Rice
  5. Chrissy Teigen’s Thai Soy-Garlic Fried Ribs
  6. Garlic Knots
  7. Grilled Garlic-and-Black-Pepper Shrimp
  8. Roast Chicken Legs with Lots of Garlic
  9. Garlic Beef, Broccoli, and Cauliflower Stir Fry
  10. Herby Pasta with Garlic and Green Olives

What Is the Cultivation Process of Garlic?

Garlic cloves need six to eight weeks of cold weather (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) before flowering and producing bulbs. When there is enough moisture and a warmer temperature, roots will come out, and leaves will appear. Cloves typically develop their roots and do the majority of their growth during the fall and winter. Here are the steps in planting and cultivating garlic.

  1. Buy and choose your ideal garlic from shops that specialize in locally grown plants. Types that are locally grown will be the most suitable for the climate where you live.
  2. Plant garlic in the fall or early spring, since it needs chilly weather to grow properly. A longer growing season allows it to produce large, more flavourful summer harvests. Planting two to four weeks before or after the typical first frost date in your area is recommended.
  3. Prepare the planting beds with organic matter like compost and worm castings. Utilize sandy loam and well-drained soil with an optimum pH of 6.0 to 7.0 for optimal growth.
  4. Prepare the cloves for planting by removing the outer layer. Slowly break apart the cloves and choose the bigger ones for planting. The bigger the clove, the greater chance it’ll create a nice, big head of garlic in the end. Plant cloves 4 inches apart, stick the pointed end up and push it 2 inches deep into the soil. Rake or smooth the soil surface gently with your hands.
  5. Fertilize growing garlic in the early spring and as the bulbs start to grow. If the soil feels dry about an inch down, it is time to water your plant. As it ripens, reduce watering to harden the bulbs. Keep an eye out for White Rot (a fungal infestation) and pests, such as onion thrips.
  6. It’s time for a harvest when the garlic tops turn yellow. Carefully pry them loose using a garden fork and pull them out. Lay them in a pile after brushing off the excess soil. Once you’re done harvesting, place the plant in an airy, dry, and dark area. Tie the stems together and hang them upside down.

In addition to the pleasure of gardening, you’ll love the taste of the vegetables you grow.

What Are Similar Plants to Garlic?

The following are the commonly used Allium vegetables which are rich in flavonols and used worldwide in different dishes. Compounds known as organosulfur compounds are among the most beneficial health components of alliums.

  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Scallions
  • Bell peppers
  • Onions 
  • Chives 
  • Shallot
  • Leeks

 

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What Is the Difference Between Garlic and Ginseng?

The general population uses herbal remedies like garlic and ginseng. Although they both have several health benefits, their main difference is their taste. The strong, clove-like smell of garlic makes it a popular cooking ingredient; ginseng, however, does not have a strong smell as its roots have been polished, removing its odor, before being sold in stores throughout China.

Both garlic and ginseng possess health benefits. Years of scientific research show that both of these popular ingredients possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. When combined, they may have additional advantages. In addition to increasing the antioxidant status and reducing oxidative damage to nucleic acids in the body, garlic and Panax ginseng extract showed protective effects against EDTA-induced liver injury.

The herbs, garlic, and ginseng can be found in dishes like stir-fries and soups or taken in supplement form. Ginseng has been used as a tonic and alternative medicine since ancient times in Korean, Chinese, and Japanese cultures. It is recommended that ginseng not be taken during pregnancy, because one of its chemicals has been linked to possible birth defects. Ginseng affects blood sugar levels and might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Patients must avoid taking ginseng with other supplements that can lower blood sugar, such as garlic.

In addition to their invigorating characteristics, these herbs are valued for their vitamins and minerals. Based on a 2,000 calorie diet, garlic has 1.6% of your daily vitamin C, while ginseng has only 0.3%. Ginseng has 0.1% iron, slightly lower than garlic’s 0.3%, and garlic has 181 mg of calcium while ginseng does not have any. In a serving of 3 grams each, garlic yields 4.5 calories while ginseng only contains 2.4 calories.

Resources

  1. Rivlin, R. (2001). Historical Perspective on the Use of Garlic. The Journal Of Nutrition, 131(3), 951S-954S. doi: 10.1093/jn/131.3.951s
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