Garlic: Important Facts, Health Benefits, and Recipes

Garlic is a plant that comes from the Allium family and is used in recipes in almost every culture. Allicin, the phytochemical in garlic, contributes to the many health benefits found in garlic. This article will highlight the health benefits and important facts about garlic and includes a variety of recipes that have garlic in them.

What is Garlic?

  • Garlic is a plant in the Allium (onion) family. It is closely related to onions, shallots and leeks. 
  • Garlic plants grow from bulbs in tall flowering stems. They can grow up to 3 feet high. They flower in the warmer months (July through September in the Northern Hemisphere).

Is Garlic Good For You?

Yes! Scientists have found that most of its health benefits are caused by sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed, or chewed. Allicin is the most known compound that provides the health benefits.

Health Benefits Of Garlic

1. Garlic is good for heart health - Allicin has been found to lower cholesterol and blood pressure in some studies.

2. Garlic may stimulate the immune system.

3. Garlic is an anti-inflammatory. 

  • It is recommended that if you have sore and inflamed joints or muscles, rub garlic oil onto them.
  • The Arthritis Foundation says garlic could help prevent cartilage damage from arthritis.

4. Garlic may help prevent cancer.

5. Garlic is a natural antibiotic.

6. The allicin in garlic is an antioxidant.



History, Background, and General Facts about Garlic

  • Garlic’s origin is considered Middle Asia. There are a lot of different theories as to where in Asia, but most people say that it originates from West China.
  • People regularly used garlic in ancient Egypt, China, and India. Garlic was one of the most used health remedies dating back to 2700 B.C.
  • Garlic was a valuable remedy used to help a lack of appetite, cough, skin disease, and rheumatism in ancient Indian medicine
  • The Ancient Greeks consumed garlic, but were forbidden to enter temples if they had eaten it because of the smell. They also fed their armies garlic before battle for strength.
  • Hippocrates (the father of medicine) mentioned using garlic as a remedy against intestinal parasites. 
  • Garlic is said to be an aphrodisiac. 
  • People have prepared teas and tinctures from garlic and mixed them with honey throughout history, to help gastric infections, and fight cold and fever.
  • Garlic was one of the earliest substances to enhance performance in sports. It was given to Olympic athletes in ancient Greece.

What Are The Cuisines That Regularly Include Garlic?

Almost every cuisine uses garlic. The only cuisines that don’t are typically:

  • Religious groups such as Buddhists and Jain
  • Specific diets: FODMAP diet

What Is The Best Way To Store Garlic?

The best way to store garlic is in a cool, dry place away from heat and sunlight, such as in a bowl on the kitchen counter.

What Are The Different Types Of Garlic?

  • Softneck Garlic - most common variety 

  • Artichoke Garlic 

  • Silverskin Garlic

  • Hardneck Garlic

  • Rocambole garlic

  • Porcelain garlic

  • Purple stripe garlic

  • Marbled stripe garlic

  • Glazed purple garlic

  • Asiatic garlic

  • Turban garlic

  • Creole garlic

  • Elephant garlic

Toxicity and Side Effects Of Garlic

  • Garlic supplements may be unsafe to take if you are planning to have surgery. It may prolong bleeding and interfere with blood pressure.Talk to your doctor about taking garlic supplements.
  • If you regularly take any medications, talk to your doctor before you start using garlic supplements.

Nutrition information is for 1 clove garlic.