Garlic belongs to a similar family as onions, shallots, and leeks. It is a vegetable and the word Garlic is derived from the English word, garlēac, meaning 'spear-shaped leek'. It is mostly used as a condiment in various ways to flavour food. It is used in almost all cuisines, be it Asian, European, African, Latin American, and North American. Garlic grows as bulb not aerially but underground in the form of a bulb. It is enclosed in a papery skin, while the bulb has individual sections called cloves, which can range from 10 to 20 cloves per bulb. These cloves are further enclosed in a paperlike skin, which contains the yellowish flesh within, which is used in cooking. Garlic is quite preferred in cooking due to its pungent smell and delicious taste. It has been used since ancient times. The Greek physician Hippocrates used to prescribe garlic for a wide range of illnesses like respiratory problems, parasites, poor digestion, and fatigue. The Olympic athletes during ancient Greece were given garlic to improve their athletic performance. The health benefits of garlic are due to the presence of sulfur compounds which are formed when a garlic clove is chopped or crushed. These sulfur compounds when intaken produce health benefits in the body. Garlic cultivation originated in Egypt and then spread to Asia and finally spread to Europe and the United States. China at present is the world’s largest producer of garlic and India ranks second in production.
While buying fresh garlic, choose the bulbs that are firm, avoid those that are soft and have signs of mold. Do not opt for sprouted bulbs as this indicates they are old and not fresh.
Excessive consumption of garlic may result in digestive disturbances in the body.(2)
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