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What is garlic?
Garlic is a therapeutic and medicinal bulbous plant. A single garlic bulb contains around 10-20 cloves. Garlic has a strong flavour and odour; it is widely found globally and popularly used in cooking. Garlic contains various nutrients and bioactive compounds with health-boosting effects. In Indian and Chinese medicine, garlic is used to treat infectious diseases, respiratory and cardiovascular disorders.
Garlic: Benefits & Uses
Here are a few health benefits of eating garlic.
- Rich in nutrients: Garlic is nutritious and contains various nutrients like zinc, sulphur, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium, and selenium. It also consists of bioactive and sulphur-containing compounds like tannins, saponins, flavonoids, alliin, allicin, and S-allyl cysteine.
- Antioxidant: Garlic especially aged garlic extract, has been shown to exert strong antioxidant properties and fight oxidative stress.
- Anti-inflammatory: Garlic can benefit people with joint pain and inflammation through its anti-inflammatory effect. It also minimizes the risk of diseases that may occur due to chronic inflammation in the body, like diabetes and heart disease.
- Healthy heart: Studies support that regular garlic intake can help restore healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It also helps keep blood pressure levels in control and reduce heart disease risk.
- Anti-diabetic: The presence of sulphur-containing compounds in garlic may help reduce insulin resistance in people with diabetes.
- Anti-microbial: Garlic contains allicin with powerful anti-microbial properties to help fight infections against bacterial strains of Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Mycobacterium, etc.
- Anti-fungal and anti-viral: Garlic can also support the immune system in fighting against several fungal and viral infections like the common cold.
- Boost athletic performance: Garlic can help athletes and active people improve their exercise capacity by reducing fatigue and enhancing muscle recovery.
How does garlic work?
Allicin is the primary bioactive compound present in garlic. When we chop or crush the garlic, the alliinase enzyme gets activated and produces allicin from alliin. Alliin is a sulphur-containing compound with various health-boosting effects.
How to choose the right garlic for you?
Here are some points to consider while selecting a garlic extract or supplement.
- Garlic supplements are available in forms like powder, capsules, tablets or oils. One can choose based on the requirement.
- It is better to opt for standardized extracts of garlic containing an active compound - allicin.
- Check the ingredient list carefully, as the product should be free from harmful additives and fillers.
- People with allergic to food substances should read the warnings and allergen information.
- It is advisable to opt for a reputed and certified brand. Consult a healthcare professional if you need clarification on your requirement.
How to use garlic?
Here are a few tips for using garlic and its extract.
- One can use raw garlic or garlic oil in curries, stir-fries, soups, sauces, dips and salad dressing to enhance the flavour while enjoying its health benefits.
- Garlic supplements such as tablets, capsules, or garlic extracts can be used per the brand's recommended usage instructions. However, if you plan to take them for medicinal purposes, it is better to consult a doctor.
- One can use garlic powder as a spice in spice blends for cooking or marinating.
Where to buy garlic?
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Is garlic safe to use?
Garlic is generally considered safe to use when taken in moderation. It is advisable to take garlic in excess as it may lead to indigestion issues. People on medications like blood thinners must take garlic tablets or extracts after consulting their doctors.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is black garlic?
It is a fermented garlic kept at a specific temperature and humidity for weeks to months. It has a dark colour with a unique flavour and soft texture.
2. What are some garlic benefits for men?
Garlic support healthy cardiovascular, prostate and sexual health in men by maintaining blood flow and preventing clot formation in blood vessels.
3. What is garlic scientific name?
The scientific or botanical name of garlic is Allium sativum L.
4. Are there any garlic side effects?
Garlic is generally considered safe to use, but it may cause some digestion issues like bloating, heartburn or stomach upset when taken in excess.
5. What is the nutrient value of garlic?
Garlic nutrition per 100 g as per ICMR -
Energy 124 kcal
Protein 6.9 g
Carbohydrate 21.9 g
Fat 0.16 g
Biotin 2.5 mcg
Folate 85.7 mcg
Vitamin C 12.6 mg
Calcium 20 mg
Magnesium 27 mg
Potassium 430 mg
6. Can I take garlic for cholesterol?
Garlic has been shown to benefit cholesterol levels by keeping harmful LDL cholesterol levels in control and boosting HDL levels.
7. What is Aged Garlic Extract (AGE)?
This garlic extract undergoes an ageing process for around a year and is packed with potent antioxidant and heart health-boosting properties.
8. Can I use garlic for hair?
One can take garlic to promote blood circulation and a healthy scalp.
It can help boost hair growth and reduce hair fall.
9. What are some garlic medicinal uses?
Garlic exhibits various medicinal properties like antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and immunity boosting.
10. What is garlic in hindi?
In Hindi, Garlic is known as Lahsun.