Garlic: why it is good to add it to your diet and what benefits it has
Garlic and its varieties
Garlic is a bulb belonging to the Liliaceae family: its scientific name is Allium, latin word that means hot and burning. This plant is used, especially in the kitchen to flavor several dishes, however has also a therapeutic use because it has many beneficial properties, recognised even by popular medicine.
Of asian origin (think of south-western Siberia), the garlic is widespread all over the world: its cultivation , in fact, first extended to Ancient Egypt and from here to the entire Mediterranean area. Over time its diffusion has known no limits. Various local varieties are found in many different countries: for instance, in Italy they are very well known and like the white Piacentino cultivar, the Serena, the delicate Voghera garlic and red garlic of Sulmona, the only italian variety that blossoms.
Very delicati aso is the Caraglio garlic, originally from a Piedmontese village near Cuneo: it is protected by a consortium and it is characteristic of the Grana Valley and its particular conditions.
Instead, the red garlic of Nubia (in the province of Trapani), that of Proceno and that of Resia are all very intense.
To cultivate garlic, it can be divided into same size cloves that are planted in the active part of the soil with their top facing upwards. The plant has sterile flowers and seeds, that is why the only way to spread its species is to plant the single cloves of the bulbs. It’s advised to carefully pick the sections so that you can have in the future plants that are highly resistant to parasites and to diseases. Once autumn comes, the plant dries and goes limp: at this point is possible picking the tuber: if instead we bury the bulb, this will sprout again in spring and lateral bulbs will form too, which make the cultivation abundant.
Why use garlic: its benefits and nutrients
Garlic is characterised by a particular smell, due to the presence of organic substances such as sulfur, allicin, allyl and allyl disulfide.These compounds are responsible for the numerous beneficial properties of the tuber, known since ancient Egypt times: in fact, it was part of the diet destined from the authorities to the slaves, that were working on the construction of pyramids and other buildings, to keep them healthy. Garlic contains a high percentage of vitamin B and C, that, together with selenium and sulphides, result in antioxidants.
These bulbs are anti-hypertensive, they protect from winter diseases such as the flu and common cold and from intestinal parasites and prevent the formation of platelets and blood clots. This action is done by ajoene, a substance that has an antitumor function. Finally, garlic has a detoxing function as the sulfate compounds found in the tuber bind to lead, mercury and cadmium molecules: in this way these dangerous metals can be eliminated from the body. Recently a study from Liverpool University has demonstrated how the daily intake of essential oil or garlic extract reduced the risk of cardiac arrest. These products are characterised for having high contents of garlicin, allyl disulfide, alli propyl allycin (substances with antibiotic functions), vitamin A,B,C and allide.
More than that, it has a balsamic and antiseptic action on the respiratory system: for this reason, essential oil and generally garlic are taken to support catarrhal bronchitis and hypercholesterolemia treatments. The consumption of this tuber is indicated especially for children and the elderly, who are more susceptible to bacteria and infections.
How to consume garlic
Generally, garlic is used raw and finely minced to flavor sauces, salads and meat based dishes: its consumption is recommended not only to flavor, but also for a anti-infective action and for an overall well-being for the organism.
It is taken as a digestive stimulant in the form of infusion: it is sufficient to infuse 5-10 grams of garlic in a liter of water. If you want to make a decoction with antiseptic properties, you need to put 10-15 grams of tuber in a liter of water. To overcome the classic bad breath problem, it is sufficient to take off the green inner bud from the cloves or eat an apple immediately after.