Garlic is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world and is a perennial belonging to theLiliaceaefamily. Garlic, a herb related to onion, leeks and chives is distinguished by its pungent aroma and distinct flavour.
Some call it a vegetable because it’s an edible plant. Others call it an herb, defined as any plant used as medicine, seasoning or flavouring. But it's also a spice, which is a dried plant-derived substance used to flavour food.
Calorie for calorie, garlic is incredibly nutritious. One clove of raw garlic contains manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium and fibre as well as small amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus and iron.
Garlic is commonlyused to treat a number of health conditions as a result of a chemical it produces called allicin, a sulphur-containing compound. Allicin is also responsible for garlic’s smell.
Garlic is widely recognized for its ability tofight bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even parasites. Some studies have shown that garlic might also have antiviral properties effective against a broad range of bacteria.
Research is ongoing aboutgarlic’s potential in reducing the risk of heart disease and helping to manage cholesterol levels. Studies suggest that garlic makes platelets (the cells involved in blood clotting) less likely to clump together and accumulate on artery walls. This means garlic may act like an anticoagulant and by so doing, reduces the risk of heart attacks.
More research is needed but preliminary studies also show that the consumption of garlic may give some relief from the inflammatory symptoms of osteoarthritis.