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Garlic is a member of same family as onion, leeks, shallots and chives.

· Spice

After watching “Twilight” with her friends on a sleepover, our 10-year-old came home with lot of fun stories and lot of fear to be able to sleep. At first we didn’t take her seriously but when she kept waking up at night, we decided to try the “Garlic cure”….

Surprisingly, it worked but it made me curious, why is the belief so strong that garlic can protect against vampires?

It turned out that the origin of the vampire is the disease named “porphyria”. Folks with these disorders do not make heme, a component of hemoglobin (protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen) properly. Some forms of this disease cause patients to be sensitive to light and leads to distortion of the skin, including erosion of the lips and gums. This can give a them vampire like fanged appearance and dislike of sunlight. Interestingly, people who suffer from porphyria also have an intolerance to foods high in Sulphur content…. thus garlic.

Clearly, we don’t need vampires to convince importance of this super beneficial spice/herb. Since ancient times, Garlic has been considered as a "wonder drug” and highly valued for its numerous health benefiting properties. It was also known as Stinking rose because of its explosive scent. Its fiery aroma is due to an active ingredient, allicin, which has all anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-oxidant properties. Also, garlic is loaded with many vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants that protect against heart disease and cancer.

Exploring Garlic

Garlic is a member of same family as onion, leeks, shallots and chives. Garlic is native to central Asia and northeast Iran but has spread all over the world. 80% of the world’s supply of garlic comes from China.

Garlic grows underground as a bulb. Its long green shoots are edible. Each bulb is made of cloves. Raw garlic has strong pungent flavor. Garlic is always used as one of the ingredients in recipe except roasted garlic, there are not many recipes of garlic by itself.

There are two main types of garlic
Hardneck : have long thin stem, bigger cloves and easier to peel.
Softneck : have no stem, smaller cloves and harder to peel.

Taking away the smell

To clear breath after garlicky meal
1. Chew fennel seeds or cardamom seeds after the meal
2. Drink red wine with the meal
3. Add parsley or cilantro to the dish.

To clean hands after handling garlic:
1. Wash hands with water and lemon juice.
2. Wash hands with baking soda.
3. Soak hands in orange water (water with orange peels) for few mins and then rinse.

Using Garlic

Important beneficial enzymes in garlic can get destroyed in process of cooking so best ways to retain its potency is by letting it stand for 10 mins before cooking. This can help prevent loss of its valuable medicinal properties. Also, slicing or crushing the garlic increases content of the important enzymes, allicin.

Thus, avoid using whole cloves instead slice, dice or crush it.

Health Benefits

1. Garlic is super beneficial against Cancer.
In more than 600 scientific studies on animals and in people, scientists have proven that garlic can not only treat but even prevent cancer. Garlic is found to be useful in treating colon cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer. According to the Doctors from the International Agency for Research the reasons garlic can help in treating cancer are -
i. Garlic is rich in anti-oxidants. They help clear-out free radicals, which cause cell-damage and are cancer-causing.
ii. Garlic can stop chemical or pollutants called carcinogens from harming DNA.
iii. Garlic boosts the activity of enzymes that cleanse cancer causing compounds.

2. Garlic is very helpful for heart.
In 2010, medical researchers studied all the evidences about garlic and heart disease, and declared, “Eating garlic regularly, has a significant defensive effect against atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries and can cause heart attack or stroke”. The study of garlic-rich Mediterranean diet pointed out the fact that if everyone ate one or two garlic cloves a day, the worldwide risk of heart disease would drop by 25 percent.
And the best part is you don’t have to eat them raw and fresh. Cooked, dried or powdered garlic is as healing as fresh.

3. Garlic can improve immune function:
Allicin, which gives garlic its signature smell and taste, has disease fighting response in the body. This, along with other antioxidants, help to fight infections and support the immune system. Regular consumption of garlic keeps you healthy and well.

Home Remedies

1. To reduce high cholesterol and to lose weight, eat 1 chopped garlic clove with ½ tsp. grated ginger and ½ tsp. lime juice before meals.
2. To treat menstrual cramps, Boil 1 cup milk with 1 chopped garlic clove for 10 mins. Drink to lukewarm. Drink this garlic milk before bedtime for sound sleep.
3. To treat pain and swelling, apply crushed garlic cloves locally as a paste or poultice.
4. To treat cold and any kind of infection, make a garlic garland and wear it like necklace overnight. This technique is mentioned in the traditional texts for preventing infections.
6. To treat insect bites, apply crushed garlic on the affected area to reduce pain and to remove poison.