Garlic is a bulbous, perennial plant with a powerful onion-like aroma and famously pungent taste. Of all the plants you wouldn't expect to find as part of the lily family garlic is likely at the top of the list. Even so, it's true that garlic is actually a lily.
The bulb of the garlic plant is made up of sections called cloves, and each clove is encased in its own membrane. Each clove develops from an auxiliary bud at the base of the leaf. The leaves typically reach about 12 inches in height.
Garlic has been used as a condiment, as flavoring for food, and as a nutraceutical for more than 5,000 years. The parts used for wellness include the bulbs and the oil extracted from them.
While garlic originated in Asia, it is now grown throughout the world. Its history can be traced back to China, where garlic has become an important element of traditional Chinese health practices. Garlic is also known by a variety of other names including (appropriately!) stinking rose.
- For centuries, garlic has been used for its exceptional revitalizing properties.
- When raw garlic is crushed, an enzyme (allinase) acts on an amino acid (alliin) to produce the compound allicin.
- Garlic has been used for its antioxidant properties.
- Garlic is believed to support heart health by helping maintain healthy blood flow.
- The key therapeutic ingredient in garlic is alliin an odorless, sulfur-containing compound derived from the amino acid cysteine. Alliin forms allicin when raw garlic is chopped, crushed, or chewed. It is the allicin which gives garlic its health promoting properties and its overpowering odor!
- Garlic contains many active constituents including enzymes, B vitamins, Vitamin C, volatile oil with sulfur-containing compounds, and flavonoids.
- It has trace amounts of minerals like zinc, iron, copper germanium, selenium, and magnesium.
- Garlic has antioxidant properties which help protect against cell damage caused by free radicals.
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