— by Ayan.
There is a legend about garlic. When the Asuras and Devas churned the sea of milk for getting “Amrita” (Elixir of life). Mahalakshmi, the elephant Iravatha, the cow Kamadhnu, celestial tree etc appeared. Dhanwantri, the lord of medicine, then followed. Along with ‘Amrita’, deadly poison also came out. While distributing ‘Amrita’, Rahu stealthily got it and when he was just eating it, his head was cut off. Drops of ‘Amrita’ fell out from his throat. These Amrita drops changed to white Garlic. This legend illustrates the greatness of Garlic.
A member of the onion family, Garlic is sold dried only. The white or pink skin encloses small curved segments known as “cloves”. These are surrounded by a thin layer of skin which must be peeled off. It is an all seasonal vegetable.
Garlic originally came from central Asia, and is now cultivated throughout the world. Garlic is a perennial that can grow 2 feet high or more. The most important part of this plant for medicinal purposes is the compound bulb. Each bulb is made up of 4-20 cloves, and each clove weighs about 1 gram. Garlic supplements can either be made from fresh, dried, aged, or garlic oil, and each may have different effects on the body.
Components of Garlic
An analysis of garlic shows it to contain moisture 62.0 percent, protein 6.3 percent, fat 0.1 percent, minerals 1.0 percent, fibre 0.8 percent and carbohydrates 29.8 percent per 100 grams of edible portion. Its mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, phosphorus, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C. It also contains traces of iodine, sulphur and chlorine. Its calorific value is 145.
The bulbs yield an essential oil containing allyl propyl disulphide, diallyl disulphide and two other sulphur compounds. They also contain antiseptic and hypotensive, or causing low blood pressure principles-allicin, allisatin I and allisatin II.
There are several important components of garlic that have been identified, and many more have not. Alliin is an odorless sulfur-containing chemical derived from the amino acid cysteine. When garlic bulbs are crushed, alliin is converted into another compound called allicin. Allicin appears to be at least one of the primary active compounds that gives garlic its characteristic odor and many of its healing benefits. However, allicin is not absorbed effectively by the human body. To combat this problem, aged garlic is fermented to break allicin down to usable compounds. These compounds are water-soluble sulfur compounds (S-allyl cysteine and others) and a small amount of oil-soluble sulfur compounds. The sulfur containing compounds in aged garlic give the supplements its reported benefits in cholesterol levels, heart disease, and cancer.
When crushed, Allium sativum yields allicin, a powerful antibiotic and anti-fungal compound (phytoncide). It also contains alliin, ajoene, enzymes, vitamin B, minerals, and flavonoids. The phytochemicals responsible for the sharp flavor of garlic are produced when the plant’s cells are damaged. When a cell is broken by chopping, chewing, or crushing, enzymes stored in cell vacuoles trigger the breakdown of several sulfur-containing compounds stored in the cell fluids. The resultant compounds are responsible for the sharp or hot taste and strong smell of garlic. Some of the compounds are unstable and continue to evolve over time. Among the members of the onion family, garlic has by far the highest concentrations of initial reaction products, making garlic much more potent than onions, shallots, or leeks. Although people have come to enjoy the taste of garlic, these compounds are believed to have evolved as a defensive mechanism, deterring animals like birds, and worms from eating the plant.
Allicin opens thermo TRP (transient receptor potential) channels that are responsible for the burning sense of heat in foods. The process of cooking garlic removes allicin, thus mellowing its spiciness.
When eaten in quantity, garlic may be strongly evident in the diner’s sweat and breath the following day. This is because garlic strong smelling sulfur compounds are metabolized forming allyl methyl sulfide. Allyl methyl sulfide (AMS) cannot be digested and is passed into the blood. It is carried to the lungs and the skin where it is excreted. Since digestion takes several hours, and release of AMS several hours more, the effect of eating garlic may be pressent for a long time.
This well-known phenomenon of “garlic breath” is alleged to be alleviated by eating fresh parsley. The herb is, therefore, included in many garlic recipes. However, since the odour results mainly from digestive processes placing compounds such as AMS in the blood, and AMS is then released through the lungs over the course of many hours, eating parsley provides only a temporary masking. One way of accelerating the release of AMS from the body is the use of a sauna. Due to its strong odor, garlic is sometimes called the “stinking rose”.
Garlic has antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help destroy free radicals – particles that can damage cell membranes, interact with genetic material, and possibly contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of conditions including heart disease and cancer. Free radicals occur naturally in the body, but environmental toxins (including ultraviolet light, radiation, cigarette smoking, and air pollution) can also increase the number of these damaging particles. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause over time.
Now that you know about the benefits of this gifted plant, do make sure to add a couple of cloves of garlic to your diet to boost your immunity. Garlic has a super fine taste and enhances the flavour of your food, and it takes care of your health. Medicine could not get any tastier! Garlic can become your best doctor if you allow it to, because this, this is nature’s one of the finest medicines and one stop store for all cures !
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