Garlic belongs to onion genus (close relatives are onion, leek etc.) and native of central Asia. The use (as spice and for medicinal properties) of garlic dates back to 6,000 years back and was known to Egyptians. The largest producer of garlic is China with more than 75% of world production.
Garlic has various uses, including culinary use (as spice), medicinal use and also used for spiritual purpose. Garlic is in various uses, including medicinal uses for several millennia and one of the most important medicinal herbs in recorded history. Even Romans used garlic before going to war. There are numerous health benefits of garlic. Some important health benefits of garlic are
1. Garlic is highly nutritious and has very few calories: garlic is rich in various nutrients such as vitamins (vitamin B1, B6, vitamin C etc.), minerals (selenium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, iron etc.), fiber etc. There are also many sulfur containing compounds such as allicin (this compound is responsible for distinct flavor of garlic) and many other allyl polysulfide compounds.
2. Garlic for common cold: common cold may not be a serious health problem, but it is certainly an annoying health condition. Many of us suffer from common cold several times a year, especially during seasonal changes. There are several remedies for common cold and garlic is one of the commonly used and most potent home remedy for common cold. Regular consumption of garlic can prevent common cold in large percentage of individuals and also can reduce the duration of illness by several days, as seen several clinical trials.
3. Garlic is good for cardiovascular health and blood pressure: regular consumption of garlic supplement (0.5 gram to 1.5 gram daily) can help control blood pressure. Since, high blood pressure is responsible for most cardiovascular problems such as stroke and heart attack, garlic is great way to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, as cardiovascular problems cause largest number of deaths every year.
Garlic improves your lipid profile: regular garlic intake can reduce cholesterol level by modest 5% to 15%, especially LDL cholesterol, which plays an important role in reducing cardiovascular deaths.
4. Garlic is rich in antioxidants: high antioxidant content of garlic is very good for body to fight free radicals that are responsible for oxidative stress. Regular consumption of garlic or its supplement provide good antioxidants and help prevent various disorders related to oxidative stress/damage such as Alzheimer’s disease. Many experts claim that regular consumption of garlic by Indians (in various food preparations as spice along with turmeric which is also daily used spice in India) is responsible for significantly low rate of Alzheimer’s disease in India.
5. Garlic can prevent various cancers: allium vegetables, including garlic contain many anticancer ingredients and regular consumption of garlic (as food or as garlic supplement) can help prevent most types of cancers. However one has to consume daily for these benefits and moderate intake of garlic (e.g. few times a week) seem to confer anticancer benefits only for colorectal and renal cancer. Hence, to get anticancer benefit one should consume garlic (supplement or as food) daily. Garlic is listed/classified as “anti-cancer” food.