Garlic - Consumer Information
History shows that garlic dates back to 4000 BC and is native to Central Asia. The word garlic comes from Old English garleac, meaning "spear leek" and is part of the lily family. This pungent bulbous herb has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region and used generously as a seasoning in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Egyptians worshipped garlic and placed clay models of garlic bulbs in the tomb of Tutankhamen. And, of course, folklore holds that garlic repels vampires, protects against the Evil Eye, and warded off jealous nymphs said to terrorize pregnant women and engaged maidens. Garlic was so highly regarded that it was even used as currency. Last but not least, garlic is also known for its aphrodisiacal properties, which have been extolled through the ages in literature, cooking recipes, and medical journals.
What's that smell?
Garlic is known universally as the "stinking rose." Garlic cloves themselves have a neutral smell, but when the cells are ruptured by cutting or pressing, they release an enzyme called allinaise, chemically changing the inherent alliin into allicin, a sulphur-containing molecule. That results in the familiar heady, pungent garlic smell that is a mainstay in kitchens around the world. These sulphur molecules are absorbed into the bloodstream and lungs, escaping through exhaled air and perspiration, ultimately producing garlic breath. And, in some people who consume massive quantities, a noticeable garlicky body odour can result.
Garlic & Health
Garlic has long been considered an herbal wonder drug, used to protect against plague by monks of the middle Ages to treating the cold and common flu today. Hippocrates used garlic vapours to treat cervical cancer, and garlic poultices were placed on wounds during World War II as an inexpensive and apparently quite effective replacement for antibiotics, which were scarce during wartime. Modern science is beginning to substantiate the medicinal properties of garlic. Studies have shown garlic can control acne, suppress the growth of tumours, and is a potent antioxidant good for cardiovascular health. Other studies show garlic can reduce LDL or "bad" cholesterol and is a good blood-thinning agent to avoid blood clots that could lead to heart attack or stroke. It is generally agreed that the stronger the taste of a clove of garlic, the higher the sulphur content and the greater the medicinal value.