Garlic

G A R L I C

Garlic (scientific name Allium sativum) is a species in the onion genus, Allium.  Its close relatives include the onion, shallot, leek, chive and Chinese onion.  With a history of several thousand years of human consumption and use, garlic is native to Central Asia and northeastern Iran, and has long been a common seasoning worldwide.  There are two subspecies of garlic, ten major groups of varieties, and hundreds of varieties or cultivars.

Nutrients

In normal servins of 1–3 cloves (3–9 grams), garlic doesn’t provide a significant nutritional value, with the content of all essential nutrients below 10% of the Daily Value (DV).

A clove of raw garlic contains about:

  • 4 calories
  • 1 gram carbohydrates
  • 2 gram protein
  • 1 gram fiber
  • 1 milligram manganese (3 percent DV)
  • 9 milligram vitamin C (2 percent DV)
  • 4 milligrams calcium (1 percent DV)
  • 4 micrograms selenium (1 percent DV)

However when expressed per 100 grams, garlic contains several nutrients in rich amounts (20% or more of the DV), including vitamins B6 and C, and dietary minerals like  manganese and phosphorus. Per 100 gram serving, garlic is also a moderate source (10–19% DV) of certain B vitamins, including thiamin and pantothenic acid, as well as the dietary minerals, calcium, iron, and zinc.

The composition of raw garlic is 59% water, 33% carbohydrates, 6% protein, 2% dietary fiber and less than 1% fat.

garlic

Health Benefits

*Studies had found a moderate inverse association between garlic intake and some .  Another meta-analysis found decreased rates of stomach cancer associated with garlic intake.

* Garlic has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

*Garlic helps to cleanse the system and flush out toxins.

*Consuming garlic on a daily basis (in food or raw) helps to lower cholesterol levels because of the anti-oxidant properties of Allicin.

*The properties of garlic protect the skin from the effect of free radicals and slow down the depletion of collagen which leads to loss of elasticity in aging skin

*Rubbing crushed garlic extract on your scalp or massaging with garlic-infused oil is known to prevent and even reverse hair loss.

*Garlic is rich in nutrients like selenium, quercetin and vitamin C, all of which help treat eye infection

*Raw garlic is used to treat colds and coughs.s and swelling.

*Garlic has been widely recognized as both a preventative agent and treatment of many cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, including atherosclerosis, hyperlipidemia, thrombosis, hypertension and diabetes. Garlic had been shown to help reverse early heart disease.

*Garlic contains antioxidants that can support the body’s protective mechanisms against oxidative damage that can contribute to these cognitive illnesses.

*Garlic has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels, potentially stop or decrease the effects of some diabetes complications, as well as fight infections, reduce LDL cholesterol and encourage circulation.

When To Avoid

*Garlic should be avoided before surgeries or medical operations.

*Do not consume more than 2-3 garlic cloves in a day without consulting a doctor.

Where It Is Cultivated

In 2014, world production of garlic was 25 million tons, with China alone accounting for 80% of the total. India was the second largest producer with just over 1 million tons, while other countries grew less than 0.5 million tons in 2014.   Much of the garlic production in the United States is centered in Gilroy, California, which calls itself the “garlic capital of the world”.  In the US, it’s become cheaper and easier to import garlic from places like China. Unfortunately, China isn’t stringent with its safety regulations. Reports run rampant of garlic bleached in chlorine, fumigated in pesticides, grown in untreated sewage water, and even contaminated with lead.  The bleach in particular is used to cover up dirt spots, even though they’re perfectly natural. According to the Australian Garlic Industry Association‘s Henry Bell, while bleaching kills insects, prevents sprouting, and helps whiten the bulb, it’s also fumigated with a dangerous toxin called methyl bromide.  When taken in high doses, methyl bromide can cause central nervous system and respiratory problems. According to the UN, it’s 60 times more dangerous than chlorine—so the lower cost is not worth the risk. Luckily, you can easily tell the difference between Chinese and American garlic.

Buying Garlic

Buy unblemished bulbs with dry skins and firm cloves. Skip the peeled stuff in the refrigerated section.  In order to meet import regulations, Chinese garlic must have the root removed to prevent soil born diseases and illnesses from entering the country. American farmers won’t pay the extra expense to do it as it’s not required for them.  You can also weigh it, Chinese garlic contains more water, so it’s lighter. It’s actually 37% solid, compared to the American 42%. To test it, give it a squeeze: a firmer bulb is the way to go.  Try to taste it by it self first, the Chinese garlic has a slight metallic taste. The flavor is believed to be due to allicin level, the contributing compound to taste and smell in garlic. The American ones had 4400ppm (parts per million), and the Chinese ones had 3500ppm.  US garlic may cost a bit more but health does not have a prize.

Storage

Store bulbs in a cool, dry place (not in the fridge) (to inhibit sprouting). Unbroken bulbs should last several months; use individual cloves within 10 days. Peeled cloves can also be stored in wine or in vinegar on the refrigerator.   Commercially, garlic is stored at 32 °F, in a dry, low-humidity environment.

Cultivation

Garlic is one of the more simple crops to grow. It thrives in different zones all across the United States and the world. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, they should plant the cloves during the fall season and harvest them in late spring/early summer.

Use For Cooking

For garlic infused oils it is required to use measures to be taken to prevent the garlic from spoiling using a mild solution of vinegar so it minimizes bacterial growth.   Storing the garlic oil does not assure the safety of the garlic kept in oil, requiring use within one month to avoid bacterial spoilage.

You can add raw garlic to recipes that are sautéed, roasted or baked. You can also add garlic on salad dressings, marinades, tomato sauces, soups or stews.

You can chop or sit garlic, chopping the garlic activates alliinase enzymes in the garlic’s cells and the sitting allows these enzymes to convert some of the garlic’s allin into allicin.

Roasted Garlic

garlic-7.jpg

  • Cut 1/4 inch off the top of a whole bulb.
  • Place the bulb on foil, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, a lillte salt  and wrap tightly
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes until tender.
  • Squeeze the garlic “paste” out and use it on any recipe.
  • Enjoy!

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