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Submitted by on May 27, 2019
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The health benefits of garlic have been known for centuries along with its culinary taste, but modern scientists are still studying its anti-microbial, antiviral and antifungal properties.

The health benefits of garlic or Allium sativum are enormous botanically and scientifically, and this is one of the culinary and healing wonders of nature. This vegetable root has a taste similar to herbs that enhance the flavor of any dish.

In addition, it contains natural ingredients that provide various health benefits and treatments. Like some roots of the genus Allium, garlic has a bloated layer of fleshy leaves with roots that grow from the bottom, and the stem blooms at the opposite end. Other vegetables of the same genus, such as onions, chive, and Chinese scallion, have similar characteristics, including strong smell and taste, which are enhanced when the clove is crushed or ground.

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Basic Facts and History of Garlic

Garlic is supposed to come from the region of Central Asia. The oldest recorded history, lauding the benefits of this root, is thousands of years old. Ancient Sanskrit texts from India, dating back to 5000 BC, mention the health benefits of garlic. It is reported that other such ancient civilizations on the Asian, European and African continents grew roots for food, medicine, and even ritual purposes.

In particular, the Mediterranean region continues its centuries-old gastronomic tradition of using garlic as a component of vegetables or herbs to obtain beneficial and aromatic properties. In addition, the ancient Egyptians and other developed civilizations also used their extracts to treat various wounds and infections, fully aware of the antimicrobial and antibiotic properties of garlic.

Garlic thrives in temperate climates. In tropical regions, garlic is often grown in higher places, where lower temperatures favor production. In terms of soil condition, this vegetable root prefers loamy soil or sandy loam soil, which has sufficient drainage capacity to maintain the ideal amount of moisture needed for plant growth.

Culinary Use of Garlic

Garlic is now the main vegetable in almost every kitchen. Widely used in various cuisines as an ingredient and herbal flavoring. Cloves are commonly used for cooking, but other parts of vegetables, including flowers and unripe bulbs, are also used as a culinary ingredient. As a taste enhancer, it is prepared from various types of meat, fish and vegetables. In its raw form, garlic can be added as an herb to some sauces and spices.

Garlic cloves and leaves are sautéed or stir fried with onions, ginger and other vegetable or meat ingredients in Southeast and other parts of Asia. In the Spanish, Greek and other Mediterranean culinary traditions, garlic is often combined with the main ingredients, such as onions, tomatoes and olive oil, to improve the taste of the dish. Garlic olive oil is also a popular addition to bread and pasta. In the regions of Valencia and Catalonia in Spain, olive oil with garlic is mixed with egg yolk and mustard to produce aioli.

Medicinal and Health Benefits of Garlic

Garlic is believed to provide many healing and beneficial properties. It is known that this root crop facilitates cardio-vascular health due to its ability to prevent hypertension, cholesterol, atherosclerosis and other diseases. The component of garlic that is responsible for this health benefit is allicin, a remarkable compound derived from aliina and alginase.

In addition to the cardiovascular effects, allicin also has antibacterial, antimicrobial and even antifungal properties. Allicin also helps produce certain types of antioxidants, such as glutathione and catalase. These two antioxidant enzymes are believed to remove toxins from the body, stimulate the immune system and prevent the risk of cancer and other diseases.

As a soluble compound, its effectiveness is significantly reduced when it is prepared or exposed to acids in the gastrointestinal system, which reduces the health benefits of garlic. To preserve the optimal benefits of this compound and improve its absorption in the body, it is often extracted from garlic and processed into food additives.

In addition to allicin, garlic has diallyl disulfide or DADS, a more stable compound that can withstand high cooking temperatures. DADS is believed to have anti-cancer and immunostimulating properties. Together with allicin DADS also improves the cardiovascular system, improving blood circulation and reducing cholesterol levels. As an anti-cancer compound, DADS is purported to facilitate the growth of certain types of cancer cells.

With regard to antifungal and antimicrobial properties, garlic is often added as an ingredient to local lotions, oils and creams to treat certain skin conditions. These medicinal solutions are used as a treatment site for acne, acne, and recurring fungal diseases, such as athlete’s foot, pocket itching, and tapeworm. Garlic is also used as a natural remedy for parasitic infections in the body. It is believed that this is the best option for the treatment of parasites from roundworms and other gastrointestinal parasites.

Although a standard dose of garlic has not yet been established, some recommend a daily intake of one or two raw cloves per day to achieve optimum benefits of this vegetable root. However, strong compounds in garlic can have an adverse effect on the gastrointestinal tract, especially when consumed raw. Garlic supplementation is an alternative and safe way to meet this requirement. The best supplements usually contain all the main ingredients without the strong smell of garlic.

Risks and Warnings of Garlic

There are people who do not tolerate garlic and experience allergic reactions when consumed. Allergy symptoms can be moderate to severe, depending on consumption and the level of tolerance of a person. Abdominal pain, stomach acid and even gas can manifest as an allergic or digestive reaction to garlic. Excessive consumption of raw garlic also leads to similar effects.

As for the dietary supplement, less is known about its contraindicated properties if taken with other types of medication. However, medical advice on the appropriate dose and intake is recommended for people who are planning to take garlic supplements while taking anticoagulant or other cardiovascular therapy.

Exposure to crushed garlic juice can also cause skin irritation, characterized by a slight burning sensation and reddening of the area. The level of discomfort and severity of irritation depends on the tolerance of the individual to the substance. In some moderate to severe cases, burning and blistering of the skin results from prolonged exposure to garlic juice.

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