Facts about garlic

We found 20 facts about garlic

World leader in medicinal plants

Garlic, well known to all, is a vegetable, spice, and medicinal plant - in this field, it is a leader with clinically proven effectiveness. It is produced on an industrial scale - China is the leading producer in the world, and it is also cultivated in many home gardens, mainly for food purposes, and sometimes due to its beneficial effects on other species. He is also credited with a magical role, believing that he protects homes from black magic, evil forces, and vampires. But above all, it is difficult to imagine any cuisine in the world that does not use this spice.

Common garlic (Allium sativum) is a perennial plant belonging to the allium subfamily (Allioideae Herbert), included in the Amaryllidaceae family.

There are about 800 species here, of which about 690 belong to the garlic genus. Representatives of this genus are distributed on all continents of the Northern Hemisphere and are also found in very scattered areas in the equatorial zone and in South Africa in the other hemisphere. Many species of the garlic genus are popular vegetables, many species are cultivated as ornamental plants.

Common garlic is a vegetable, spice, and medicinal plant.
Garlic comes from Central Asia.

Its original form was a wild variety of Allium longicuspis, which today can be found in China and Korea.

Its breeding began about 5000 years ago.

The Chinese were the first to use garlic and it was popularized there, mainly due to its properties, which were also noticed by the Indians - around 450 BC. There was even a song praising this vegetable.

In ancient times, garlic was also popular in the Mediterranean.

It is mentioned in writings from, among others, ancient Greece, Rome, Phoenicia, and Egypt; it was known by the Arabs and Assyrians.

Garlic is also mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Numbers.

Chronicles say that the builders of the pyramids also used garlic to strengthen their bodies. When there was a shortage of garlic on the construction site, there was a rebellion. According to manuscripts, in Egyptian times, as many as 22 out of 800 preparations known to science at that time were based on garlic.

Garlic is a herbaceous plant reaching 20-100 cm in height.

It has an underground bulb (a transformed underground shoot with a storage and spore function, the main part of which are leaves), called a bulb. An onion is composed of several or a dozen or so bulbs, called cloves (these are buds with a storage function). The head is spherical, and slightly flattened.

Garlic has weak and shallow roots.

Only adventitious roots grow from the heel, which die when the plant stops growing.

The assimilating leaves reach a length of up to 50 cm, are even-narrow, flat, or trough-shaped, and range in color from green to bluish-green.

The number of assimilation leaves indicates the size of the underground bulb.

The garlic inflorescence (apparent umbel) is spherical and consists of a few white or light pink flowers placed on long pedicels.

The flowers of cultivated varieties are sterile - the seeds do not set. Between the flowers, 20-30 angular air bulbs with a diameter of up to 1 cm are formed, which are used for vegetative (asexual) reproduction.

Each garlic clove consists of a tubular, muscular leaf surrounding a light green bud at the base.

Fresh garlic cloves contain approximately 60-65% water, 32% carbohydrates (including inulin), and 5.6-6.45% protein. They also contain vitamins: C, which is the most abundant (up to 31 mg in 100 g), B vitamins (especially B1), PP, and A. Among the minerals, large amounts include potassium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, as well as sulfur. Garlic cloves contain a volatile oil with alliin (an organosulfur chemical compound) and the enzyme alliinase, which, when crushed, converts alliin into allicin and pyruvic acid. In addition, garlic oil contains, among others: salicin, phytosterols, spirogenic acid, ammonia, and many smelly alkyl and methyl disulfides and trisulfides (also with antibiotic properties).

The oil content in the bulbs may vary from 0.005% to 0.4% depending on ecological conditions.

In some situations, garlic may be considered a poisonous plant - it can cause poisoning, including death to dogs and cats. It can also be dangerous to humans if consumed in excessive amounts. In extreme situations, it may damage the liver and kidneys. Some people are allergic to garlic, which may result in allergic contact dermatitis, anaphylactic shock, photodermatosis, or even skin burns. It may also affect the effectiveness of some medicines by making them more or less effective.

In general, however, garlic is a widely accepted medicinal plant with effectiveness confirmed by clinical trials.

It is officially listed in the pharmacy code (Pharmacopoeia), described in volume 3 of the European Commission monograph ESCOP and volume 1 of the World Health Organization WHO monograph.

The herbal raw materials include garlic bulbs, garlic powder, and garlic oil.

The main active substance is alliin, which is broken down by the enzyme alliinase to allicin. Other metabolites are ajoenes, which include: platelet aggregation inhibitors (anticoagulant).

The documented spectrum of action of garlic is very broad, but further research is still being conducted.
  • increases the secretion of gastric juice, while protecting against heartburn
  • has a cholagogic and antidiarrheal effect
  • has a positive effect on the respiratory tract
  • regulates bacterial flora
  • promotes better blood supply to the coronary vessels
  • having antibacterial, antifungal, and anthelmintic properties, it acts as a mild antibiotic
  • fights urinary tract infection
  • has a preventive and curative effect on lead poisoning
  • fresh garlic juice inhibits the development of influenza viruses
  • has a diaphoretic effect, reduces fever and blood pressure
  • is an antioxidant that protects the liver
  • lowers the level of prostaglandin PG2
There are also contraindications to the use of garlic.

It is not recommended for coughs tinged with blood, fever associated with pneumonia, or advanced nephritis. Garlic should not be used in cases of acute gastritis or infants under 10 months of age. Garlic and its preparations become dangerous when used in large quantities.

In addition to its health benefits, garlic is primarily a vegetable and a spice at the same time, and this is its basic function in the kitchen.

Although raw garlic has a characteristic (unpleasant) taste and smell, when added to cooked and fried dishes, it loses it, enriching the taste of the dish.

Some people are afraid of eating garlic because of the unpleasant smell in their mouths.

It is removed by chlorophyll contained in green parts of plants (parsley, nettle, sorrel, rue), consuming an apple, roasted coffee beans, juniper berries, coriander, and cardamom seeds, and drinking milk also helps.

Common garlic does not produce seeds, so it is propagated by planting bulbs (cloves) from the underground head or aerial bulbs from the inflorescence.

Air bulbs grow slower - they usually need two years of cultivation to produce a bulb of the desired size. Bulbs are usually planted in early spring, but they can also be planted in autumn. The one planted in spring is harvested in August or September, and the autumn one - in July. A folk tradition is to plant garlic on the shortest day of the year.

China has been the clear leader in garlic production in the world over the last few decades.

The main production center is in Shandong Province. China produces over 75% of the world's garlic (23.305.888 tons per year). India ranks second with an annual production of 2.910.000 tons. Worldwide, 30.708.243 tons of garlic are produced annually.

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