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  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World
  • The Fantastic Spices World

GARLIC ( Allium sativum ( L. ) )
Names in Other Languages:

English Garlic
French Ail, Thériaque des pauvres
German Knoblauch
Spanish Ajo
Italian Aglio
Turkish Sarımsak
Japanese 蒜 Ninniku, ガーリックGarikku

FAMILY: Alliaceae

ORIGIN:   Garlic is originated from Himalayas, Siberia and it has spread world-wide, and it is harvested in China, India, Gilroy in California as well.


The garlic bulb forms at the foot of the plant and has a broad, oval, flattened basal plate and up to 15 bulblets or "cloves". The cloves are enclosed in a paper-like skin. The entire garlic bulb is surrounded by several dry, brittle, white to reddish layers of skin, which readily break up. Garlic is so widely grown that it cannot be regarded as an exotic plant.


The bulb’s small cloves contain the active ingredient used in cooking and for medicinal purposes. The single leaves are known as cloves of garlic. Some cuisines make minor use of fresh garlic leaves.


Strong and characteristic odour, which is markedly different in fresh and fried state. The pungency of fresh garlic vanishes after cooking or frying.


Fresh peeled garlic cloves have the following composition:

Moisture:62.8 % Total ash:1.0 % Calcium:0.03 % Vitamin C:13 mg/100 g
Protein:6.3 % Fiber:0.8 % Phosphorus:0.31 % Nicotinic acid:0.4 mg/100 g
Fat:0.1 % Carbohydrates:29.0 % Iron:0.001 % Calorific value:142 calories/100 g.
Source: http://www.indianetzone.com/1/garlic.htm

Garlic powder or the dehydrated garlic has the following composition:

Moisture:5.2 % Calcium:0.1 % Vitamin B2:0.08 mg/100 g
Protein:17.5 % Phosphorous:0.42 % Niacin:0.7 mg/100 g
Fat:0.6 % Sodium:0.01 % Vitamin C:2.0 mg/100 g
Total ash:3.2 % Iron:0.004 % Vitamin A:75 I.U./100 g
Fiber:1.9 % Potassium:1.1 % Calorific value (food energy):80 calories/100 g.
Carbohydrates:71.4 % Vitamin B1:0.68 mg/100g.  

Source: http://www.indianetzone.com/1/garlic.htm

Garlic contains a wealth of sulfur compounds; most important for the taste is alicin (diallyl disulfide-S-oxide), which is produced enzymatically from alliin (S-2-propenyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide) if cells are damaged; its biological function is to repel herbivorous animals. Allicin is deactivated to diallyl disulphide; therefore, minced garlic changes its aroma if not used immediately. In the essential oil from steam distillation, diallyl disulphide (60%) is found besides diallyl trisulphide (20%), diallyl sulfide, ajoene and minor amounts of other di- and polysulphides. [1]

The typical garlic flavor and odor are produced by the essential oil allicin.

Oil content: 0.12 - 0.20% essential oils [2], in particular allicin


Garlic is one of the most frequently used plants in many parts of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and there are many different ways of using garlic. It is used not only to flavour curries but can be used for drinks and savoury deserts. To add a mild flavour to food the fresh cloves are cooked whole. If a stronger flavour is required, garlic cloves are crushed or ground and added to the dish. If garlic is cooked for too long, it can become bitter. Garlic head with small cloves are often stronger than larger ones.

An oil is processed from garlic which is used commercially as a flavouring. It it can be added to flavour otherwise bland vegetable oils.

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES:   The smell of garlic is caused by allicin, which is derived from precursors such as alliin by the enzyme alliinase which is liberated when the clove is broken up. The active compound resembles the well known drug N-acetyl-L-cysteine (Mucomyst), which has mucolytic and antioxidant properties. Garlic contains several potent antioxidants, and there is evidence that its addition to the diet may help reduce the incidence of gastric and colorectal cancers. [3]

The chemicals in garlic can help reduce serum cholesterol, hypertension, blood clotting, blood sugar, bowel parasites, respiratory and other infections, and the aging process itself. However, additional clinical evidence is still needed to determine whether its widespread popularity as an herbal medicine can be justified by measurable benefits of significance.

The taste of garlic is acceptable to many animals, and our eating of garlic has not been proved to deflect the attention of mosquitoes, vampires or wolves.

-->  Cardiovascular Benefits

Numerous studies have demonstrated potential benefits of regular garlic consumption on blood pressure, platelet aggregation, serum triglyceride level, and cholesterol levels. Routine eating of garlic may also help stimulate the production of nitric oxide in the lining of blood vessel walls, which may help to relax them. As a result of these beneficial actions, garlic can be described as a food that may help prevent atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke.

One reason for garlic's beneficial effects may be its ability to lessen the amount of free radicals present in the bloodstream. [4] Garlic is a very good source of vitamin C, the body's primary antioxidant defender in all aqueous (water-soluble) areas, such as the bloodstream, where it protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation. Since it is the oxidized form of LDL cholesterol that initiates damage to blood vessel walls, reducing levels of oxidizing free radicals in the bloodstream can have a profound effect on preventing cardiovascular disease.

Garlic's vitamin B6 helps prevent heart disease via another mechanism: lowering levels of homocysteine. An intermediate product of an important cellular biochemical process called the methylation cycle, homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls.

The selenium in garlic not only helps prevent heart disease, but also provides protection against cancer and heavy metal toxicity. A cofactor of glutathione peroxidase (one of the body's most important internally produced antioxidants), selenium also works with vitamin E in a number of vital antioxidant systems. Since vitamin E is one of the body's top defenders in all fat-soluble areas, while vitamin C protects the water-soluble areas, garlic, which contains both nutrients, does a good job of covering all the bases.

Garlic is rich in also manganese, which also functions as a cofactor in a number of other important antioxidant defense enzymes, for example, superoxide dismutase. Studies have found that in adults deficient in manganese, the level of HDL (the "good form" of cholesterol) is decreased. [4]

-->  Practical Tip:

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Level III-3 evidence shows that consuming a half to one clove of garlic daily may have a cholesterol-lowering effect of up to 9%.[5]

-->  Anti-Inflammatory, Antibacterial and Antiviral Activity

Garlic, like onions, contains compounds that inhibit lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase, (the enzymes that generate inflammatory prostaglandins and thromboxanes), thus markedly reducing inflammation. These anti-inflammatory compounds along with the vitamin C in garlic, especially fresh garlic, make it useful for helping to protect against severe attacks in some cases of asthma and may also help reduce the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Alicin is a good antibacterial and antiviral agent that help to kill harmful microbes. In research studies, allicin has been shown to be effective not only against common infections like colds, flu, stomach viruses, and Candida yeast, but also against powerful pathogenic microbes including tuberculosis and botulism. [4]

-->  Garlic and Onions Protective against Many Cancers

Consuming garlic and onions may lower the risk of several cancers. There are several investigations about this and it is shown that consuming garlic had a 39% reduced risk for cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx, 57% reduced risk for esophageal cancer, 26% reduced risk for colorectal cancer, 44% reduced risk for laryngeal cancer, 10% reduced risk for breast cancer, 22% reduced risk for ovarian cancer, 19% reduced risk for prostate cancer, and 31% reduced risk for renal cell cancer, compared to those eating the least garlic.

-->  Promotes Optimal Health

The organosulfur compound found in garlic called ajoene may also be useful in the treatment of skin cancer.

Substances found in garlic, especially allicin, have been shown to not only protect colon cells from the toxic effects of cancer-causing chemicals, but also to stop the growth of cancer cells once they develop. While more research is needed to confirm, recent animal research has also suggested that garlic may confer protection against the development of stomach cancer through its potential ability to decrease H.pylori-induced gastritits.

Cooking garlic with meat appears to reduce the production of carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals that can occur in meat as a result of cooking methods, such as grilling, that expose meat to high temperatures.

Good intakes of vitamin C and selenium, with which fresh garlic is well-endowed, are also associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer, making garlic a smart addition to any colon cancer prevention plan.

Cardiovascular disease is a well-known side-effect of diabetes, but garlic may provide some protection. When diabetic laboratory animals were given garlic extract for an 8-week period, the hyperreactivity of their blood vessels to noradrenaline (a vasoconstrictive hormone) and acetylcholine (a compound involved in nerve transmission) was significantly lessened. According to the researchers, their results suggest that garlic may help prevent the development of abnormal vascular contraction seen in diabetics.[4]

-->  Promotes Weight Control

The most potent active constituent in garlic, allicin, has been shown to not only lower blood pressure, insulin and triglycerides in laboratory animals fed a fructose (sugar)-rich diet, but also to prevent weight gain and it is noticed that allicin may be of practical value for weight control.[4]

-->  Protection against Asbestos

Asbestos, a well-known carcinogen, is thought to cause cell mutations by generating reactive oxygen species (free radicals) and depleting one of the body's most important internally produced antioxidants, glutathione. Garlic contains numerous sulfur compounds and glutathione precursors that act as antioxidants and also demonstrate anti-carcinogenic properties.[4]


Garlic is generally a very safe plant. Occasional reports show that adverse effects have occurred in humans. These include a burning sensation in the mouth and intestine, sickness, and odour from the breath and the body. It may also cause a reaction in the skin of some people, possibly due to the sulphur-containing compounds. Because of this, garlic should not be placed directly on the skin.

Garlic may interfere with some prescribed medicines. For example, those used for preventing blood clots could be enhanced by garlic. There may also be an increased risk of bleeding with the use of garlic in patients undergoing surgery.

Few experimental or clinical studies have been conducted to assess the use of garlic in pregnant or breastfeeding women. Consumption of garlic by breastfeeding women may alter the taste and smell of breast milk and so alter the feeding behaviour of babies.


[4] http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?pfriendly=1&tname=foodspice&dbid=60
[5]Tapsell LC, Hemphill I, Cobiac L, Patch CS, Sullivan DR, Fenech M, Roodenrys S, Keogh JB, Clifton PM, Williams PG, Fazio VA, Inge KE. Health benefits of herbs and spices: the past, the present, the future. Med J Aust. 2006 Aug 21;185(4 Suppl):S4-24. 2006. PMID:17022438
Pictures Source: www.ivanborsato.it/?p=353