Garlic is a member of the Lily family and is a cousin to onions, shallots, leeks and chives. Elephant garlic has larger cloves, it is more closely related to the leek and therefore does not offer the full health benefits of regular garlic. For generation, people are not only using Garlic as a spice to enhance the flavour and taste of their food but also for the numerous excellent medicinal values which it possess.
Garlic is rich in a variety of powerful sulfur-containing compounds including thiosulfinates (allicin), sulfoxides (alliin), and dithiins (ajoene). While these compounds are responsible for garlic’s characteristically pungent odor, they are also the source of many of its health-promoting effects. Once you get past its pungency, the medicinal value of garlic is unmatchable
Most of the health effects are caused by one of the sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed.These compounds enter the body from the digestive tract and travel all over the body and exerts the potent biological effects .
Since the ancient times, garlic has been used for its power to cure for so many human ailments. That’s why it has been called and nicknamed as the “Wonder Drug”.
Traditionally it was used in ancient cultures to reduce fatigue and enhance the work capacity of labourers.
According to the National Library of Medicine, part of the NIH (National Institutes of Health), USA, garlic is widely used for several conditions linked to the blood system and heart, including atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), coronary heart disease and hypertension etc.
Garlic is also used today by some people for the prevention of lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, rectal cancer, and colon cancer.
More recent research has identified additional sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for garlic’s star status as a health-supporting food. These sulfur compounds include vinyldithiin, and thiacremonone. The hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) that can be made from garlic’s sulfides when produced and released from our red blood cells, can help dilate our blood vessels and help keep our blood pressure under control.
In addition to the sulfur-related compounds, garlic is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin B6, good source of vitamin C and selenium.
To truly reap the benefits of garlic, you must eat it fresh and raw. If you can’t handle the strong raw taste,you may cook it lightly. In market its also available in powder, flake, paste and pill form, which are not as much beneficial as fresh and raw cloves. It is very nutritious but has very few calories.It contains the following nutrients :
- Manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Selenium,Fibre
- Good amounts of Calcium , Copper, Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron and Vitamin B1 and also contains the trace amounts of various other nutrients.