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About Garlic and Health Benefits of Garlic

GarlicFor thousands of years garlic has been used in food and medicine in various cultures around the world. It is a known fact that garlic was used in Egypt at the time the pyramids have been built. Garlic is mentioned in the Bible and Talmud, and by Hippocrates, Galen and Pliny the Elder. All mention the garlic as having properties that help in combating many conditions such as parasites, respiratory problems, digestion, and low energy.

Greek and Roman soldiers used it as did the Chinese as far as 510 A.D. In Korean’s tradition gods were said to give a six clove garlic to mortal women before they mated with them that would give the women supernatural powers and immortality. The practice of hanging garlic, chili peppers and lemon to ward off potential evil in still very common in India and has been adapted by European writers to ward off vampires, zombies and other evil beings.

Garlic is easy to grow and can be cultivated year round in mild climates. In cold climates garlic is planted in the fall, before the ground freezes and harvested in late spring. The plants are hardy and are rarely attacked by pest and diseases. The plant even repels rabbits and moles. It is grown all over the world but China is by far the biggest producer of garlic followed by India and South Korea.

Culinary uses

Garlic is used around the world for its pungent flavor for seasoning and as condiments. It is an important staple of the Mediterranean cuisine, Eastern Asian cuisine and Northern African cuisine. The flavor and aroma varies with different cooking methods. It is paired well with onion, tomatoes, and ginger.

Garlic can be eaten row, cooked, stir fried, roasted and fermented as they do in Korea where heads of garlic are fermented at high temperatures resulting is a sweet and syrupy product called Black Garlic.

Garlic can be applied on bread, in such dishes as garlic bread, garlic toast, bruschetta, crostini and canapé. It can flavor oils, be added to meats, fish and vegetables. Mixing garlic with egg produces aioli, a sauce used in Italian cuisine.

Garlic is sold in its natural shape of a bulb, or in jars of separated and peeled cloves. It is also sold in minced form and in powder form. 1/8 of a teaspoon of powdered garlic equals one clove of garlic, but it has a slightly different taste.

The sharp flavor of the garlic is created when cells are broken by chopping, chewing or crushing. This also releases the sulfur which creates the smell. To alleviate the smell, which may continue for hours after the garlic has been consumed, chewing parsley has been known as the best blocker. And indeed many of the recipes containing garlic contain parsley as well.

Garlic has been called “The Stinking Rose” and is celebrated in festivals across the United States.

Health Benefits

Garlic is known to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant properties. The key ingredient in garlic is called allicin and is an antibiotic. But garlic also contains B and C vitamins, proteins, minerals, the sulfur containing compounds alliin, ajoene, daillysulfide and dithiin, and different enzymes. All this gives garlic its legendary healing powers. From Louis Pasteur who started using garlic as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene during WWI and WWII, to the discovery in 1924 that garlic is an effective way to combat scurvy because of its high vitamin C content, garlic has not stopped amazing researchers with its abilities.

The latest discoveries talk about garlic being used reasonably successfully in treating AIDS patients for one of the conditions associated with the disease. And in 2010, a double blind study involving 50 patients concluded that garlic is superior to the placebo in treating hypertension.

The research continues trying to find out what else does this magic bulb contain. This is what we know, so far, about garlic’s uses in medicine.

Garlic as medication

Garlic can substitute commercial medication in treating some illnesses. With others adding garlic to the diet, preferably in its natural form can bring relief for many modern day ailments.

  • Allergies: Since garlic has anti-viral properties, it helps the body fight against allergies, and airborne viruses. It strengthens the immune system to help the body fight intruders.
  • Colds: Garlic is the perfect combination to fight off colds and cough. Vitamin C and the anti-bacterial properties are what it takes to fight off cold that just started or shorten the time it will take the body to heal. A drink made of hot water, minced garlic, lemon and honey will get you on your feet when you have a cold.
  • As antibiotic: Research have compared the effectiveness of garlic in comparison to prescription antibiotics and found that garlic can be more effective as a broad spectrum antibiotic. One significant advantage of the garlic is that the bacteria doesn’t seem to evolve and block its effectiveness as it does against commercial medications.
  • High blood pressure: Garlic naturally causes the blood to thin and keeps it from clothing. By helping keep the blood vessels elastic, it reduces the effects of hypertension and lowers blood pressure.
  • Heart disease: Lowers the bad cholesterol level and raises the good cholesterol levels, thus helping the body fight the plaque in the arteries. Regular consumption of garlic has been shown to protect the aorta against hardening.
  • Diabetes: It is thought that garlic helps regulate the release of insulin.
  • Cancer: for years researchers have been saying that garlic help eliminate unwanted cells in the body. It not only slows the rate of growth in the tumor but help reduce it by 50% in certain breast cancers. It has beneficial effects on stomach cancer as well.

Garlic has been regards as a force for good and evil. In Europe many cultures have used garlic for protection against evil magic perhaps because of its potent preventative medicine. It was considered a powerful ward against werewolves, demons and vampires. In Hinduism garlic is considered a stimulant to increase one’s desire.

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