Garlic: Health Benefits and Nutritional Values

Numerous vegetables having great health benefits are used form ancient time as food and medicine. The therauptic value of these foods made them a sure ingredient in many medicines and home remedies from ancient time onwards. Garlic is one such food that is categorized as food and medicine. It origin is traced back to more than 7000 years ago in many parts of the world but many evidences show that it had originated in central and South Western Asia as a wild plant that belongs to the onion family. Later it was domesticated in many parts of the world and Greeks and other European countries included it in many culinary and medicinal uses from ancient period of Hippocrate, and Galan. Ancient Greeks had the superstition about garlic that it to get rid off evil spirits and other negative elements and they use to carry it during voyages and travels. During the mid 15th century garlic was used widely in traditional cuisine of English. Ancient Egyptians, Asians, Europeans and Mediterranean natives also had used garlic for both medicinal and culinary purposes.  Garlic is scientifically classified in the category of genus allium, and in the family of Amaryllidaceous. Today in many modern cuisines of various countries garlic is an indispensable part. The bulb of the garlic plant is used in culinary purposes. Garlic bulbs are cluster form of garlic cloves. It has pungent spicy flavor.

It is widely used in many cuisines of Eastern Asia, South Asia, Middle East, Northern Africa, Southern Europe and Central America. Normally it is used in spicy dishes as flavoring agent. Garlic pods are used in many varieties of soups, broths, stew and cooked in many meat, poultry and seafood dishes for adding flavor. It is often used with onion, tomato, ginger and other vegetables. In most fried spicy dishes garlic is an indispensable part. The skin of the garlic cloves is normally discarded but in certain Korean culinary preparations the skin of tender pods are also used. Garlic tenderizes the meat and it is unavoidably used in many non – vegetarian cuisines in many parts of the world.

From ancient period onwards garlic is used for several medicinal purposes as it is enriched with various essential nutrients and photo chemical compounds. Several researches have been conducted in relation to the health benefits of garlic and the nutrient data base of USDA had provided the nutritional statistics of garlic. Garlic contains 149 kilocalorie per 100gms. It is rich in dietary fiber, protein and sugars. All the essential vitamin B complex compounds including thiamine or vitamin B1, riboflavin or vitamin B2, niacin or vitamin B3, pantothenic acid or vitamin B5, vitamin B6 and foliate or vitamin B9 are abundantly present in garlic. It also contain vitamin C. The minerals include iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc. Selenium is another mineral content that is found in garlic unlike other vegetables.

Several studies are conducted on animals for detecting the health benefits of garlic. One of the studies conducted on animals by the Czech research center found that cholesterol accumulation in animals was reduced when they were regularly given garlic. It has anti bacterial and anti viral quality and prevent bad odor causing bacteria. The low fat content reduces the cholesterol level and improves cardio vascular health.  It also helps to burn the fat deposit and fight against obesity. The vitamin C prevents the infections and minor ailments like cold and cough. In many home remedies garlic is used for preventing throat infections and fever. It is also used as good antiseptic for healing wounds. The dietary fiber prevents constipation and improves digestion. The iron produces more red blood cells. The calcium improves the bone density and there by maintains bone health.

Despite the intense pungent flavor that is allergic to certain people the regular intake of garlic maintains proper health by preventing various ailments and improving the external and internal body functions.