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Garlic: Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, has been used throughout its history for both culinary and medicinal purposes.


Garlic is obtained from the bulb of the plant allium sativum. It is used as a flavouring agent for cooking, but also has medicinal properties.  It has enjoyed a reputation as a miracle healer. Garlic when consumed, one-half to one clove per day, reduces total serum cholesterol by 9%. In a German study published on Atherosclerosis subjects who consumed garlic everyday had upto 18% less plaque in their arteries.

Garlic had been in use before the antibiotic era in the treatment of bronchitis, brochiedasis and lung abscess. Garlic juice diluted with water has sometimes been used as lotion for cleaning septic wounds.
Garlic inhibits platelet aggregation. Clotting time and fibrinolytic activity are considerably delayed after eating raw garlic. Garlic is said to reduce the size of tumours.

Garlic is easy to grow and can be grown year-round in mild climates. While sexual propagation of garlic is

indeed possible, nearly all of the garlic in cultivation is propagated asexually, by planting individual cloves in the ground. In cold climates, cloves are planted in the fall, about six weeks before the soil freezes, and harvested in late spring. Garlic plants are usually very hardy, and are not attacked by many pests or diseases. Garlic plants are said to repel rabbits and moles. Two of the major pathogens that attack garlic are nematodes and white rot disease, which remain in the soil indefinitely once the ground has become infected. Garlic also can suffer from pink root, a typically nonfatal disease that stunts the roots and turns them pink or red.

Culinary uses
Garlic is widely used around the world for its pungent flavor as a seasoning or condiment.
The garlic plant's bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant. With the exception of the single clove types, garlic bulbs are normally divided into numerous fleshy sections called cloves. Garlic cloves are used for consumption (raw or cooked) or for medicinal purposes. They have a characteristic pungent, spicy flavour that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking.

Other parts of the garlic plant are also edible. The leaves and flowers (bulbils) on the head (Spathe) are sometimes eaten. They are milder in flavor than the bulbs, and are most often consumed while immature and still tender. Immature garlic is sometimes pulled, rather like a scallion, and sold as "green garlic". When green garlic is allowed to grow past the "scallion" stage, but not permitted to fully mature, it may produce a garlic "round", a bulb like a boiling onion, but not separated into cloves like a mature bulb. Additionally, the immature flower stalks (scapes) of the hard neck and elephant types are sometimes marketed for uses similar to asparagus in stir-fries.

Inedible or rarely eaten parts of the garlic plant include the "skin" and root cluster. The papery, protective layers of "skin" over various parts of the plant are generally discarded during preparation for most culinary uses. The root cluster attached to the basal plate of the bulb is the only part not typically considered palatable in any form.

Garlic is a fundamental component in many or most dishes of various regions, including Eastern and Southern Asia, Middle East, Northern Africa, Southern Europe, and parts of South and Central America. The flavour varies in intensity and aroma with the different cooking methods. It is often paired with onion, tomato and ginger.

Garlic may be applied to breads to create a variety of classic dishes, such as garlic bread, garlic toast, bruschetta, crostini and canape.
Oils can be flavored with garlic cloves. These infused oils are used to season all categories of vegetables, meats, breads and pasta.
In some cuisines, the young bulbs are pickled for three to six weeks in a mixture of sugar, salt, and spices. In Eastern Europe, the shoots are pickled and eaten as an appetizer.

Garlic powder has a different taste from fresh garlic. If used as a substitute for fresh garlic, 1/8 tsp. of garlic powder is equivalent to one clove of garlic.

Medicinal use and health benefits:
Garlic has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity. Garlic is also claimed to help prevent heart disease (including atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure) and cancer. Garlic is used to prevent certain types of cancer, including stomach and colon cancers. In fact, countries where garlic is consumed in higher amounts, because of traditional cuisine, have been found to have a lower prevalence of cancer. The known vasodilative effect of garlic is possibly caused by catabolism of garlic-derived polysulfides to hydrogen sulfide in red blood cells (RBCs), a reaction that is dependent on reduced thiols in or on the RBC membrane. Hydrogen sulfide is an endogenous cardio protective vascular cell-signaling molecule. Garlic has been found to reduce platelet aggregation and hyperlipidemia.

Allium sativum may have other beneficial properties, such as preventing and fighting the common cold. This assertion has the backing of long tradition in herbal medicine, which has used garlic for hoarseness and coughs. Garlic is also alleged to help regulate blood sugar levels. Regular and prolonged use of therapeutic amounts of aged garlic extracts lower blood homocysteine levels and has been shown to prevent some complications of diabetes mellitus. People taking insulin should not consume medicinal amounts of garlic without consulting a physician.

Garlic cloves are used as a remedy for infections (especially chest problems), digestive disorders, and fungal infections. Garlic can be used as a disinfectant because of its bacteriostatic and bactericidal properties. Garlic has been used reasonably successfully in AIDS patients to treat some fungal and protozoan disease.

Garlic has been found to enhance thiamin absorption, and therefore reduces the likelihood for developing the thiamin deficiency beriberi. It is found to be an effective way to prevent scurvy, because of its high vitamin C content.

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz):
Energy - 623 kJ (149 kcal)
Carbohydrates - 33.06 g
Sugars - 1.00g
Dietary fiber - 2.1 g
Fat - 0.5 g
Protein - 6.39 g
Beta-carotene - 5 μg (0%)
Thiamine (Vit. B1) - 0.2 mg (17%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) - 0.11 mg (9%)
Niacin (Vit. B3) - 0.7 mg (5%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) - 0.596 mg (12%)
Vitamin B6 - 1.235 mg (95%)
Folate (Vit. B9) - 3 μg (1%)
Vitamin C - 31.2 mg (38%)
Calcium - 181 mg (18%)
Iron - 1.7 mg (13%)
Magnesium - 25 mg (7%)
Phosphorus - 153 mg (22%)
Potassium - 401 mg (9%)
Sodium - 17 mg (1%)
Zinc - 1.16 mg (12%)
Manganese - 1.672 mg
Selenium - 14.2 μg

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