Garlic – Nutritional Values, Health Benefits, How To Use

Garlic (Allium sativum) is a perennial plant that belongs to the Allium genus in the Amaryllidaceae family. It is widely cultivated around the world for its culinary and medicinal uses. Garlic plants typically grow from bulbs, known as cloves, which are planted in the soil. The plant consists of long, narrow leaves that emerge from the bulb. The leaves are green and strap-like, reaching a height of about 30-90 centimeters (12-36 inches). The bulb is composed of several individual cloves, covered with papery layers. Garlic is a bulbous plant that grows from a single clove. In the spring, the cloves are planted in well-drained soil with good sunlight. The plant goes through different growth stages, including sprouting, leaf development, and bulb formation. Garlic plants require a period of cold temperature (around 4-10°C or 39-50°F) for proper bulb formation. The plant’s lifecycle typically takes about 8-10 months from planting to harvest.


Garlic is cultivated by planting individual cloves at a suitable depth in the soil, usually with the pointed end facing upwards. The cloves should be planted in rows, spaced several inches apart. Garlic prefers well-drained soil with good organic content. It requires full sun exposure for optimum growth. Regular watering and occasional fertilization can support healthy plant development. There are many different varieties of garlic, each with its unique characteristics. The two main types are hardneck and softneck garlic. Hardneck varieties produce a central flower stalk, known as a scape, and tend to have larger cloves with strong flavours. Softneck varieties do not produce scapes and have smaller cloves arranged in multiple layers. They often have a milder flavour and store well.


Garlic bulbs are typically ready for harvest when the leaves start to turn yellow or brown, usually in late summer or early autumn. The plants are lifted from the ground, and the bulbs are carefully dug up. After harvesting, the garlic bulbs are dried and cured in a well-ventilated area for several weeks. This drying process helps improve their flavour, storage life, and texture. Garlic is highly valued for its distinct flavour and aroma, making it a popular ingredient in various cuisines worldwide. It is used in numerous dishes, including soups, sauces, stir-fries, and marinades. Additionally, garlic has been used for centuries in traditional medicine due to its potential health benefits, including antimicrobial, cardiovascular, and immune-boosting properties.

Garlic is a versatile and widely cultivated plant, prized for both its culinary and medicinal properties. Its rich history of use dates back thousands of years, and it continues to be a beloved ingredient in kitchens and a subject of scientific research.

Nutritional Values of Garlic

Here is a general overview of the nutritional values of 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of raw garlic:

  • Calories: 149 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 33.06 grams
    • Dietary Fiber: 2.1 grams
    • Sugars: 1 grams
  • Protein: 6.36 grams
  • Fat: 0.5 grams
    • Saturated Fat: 0.089 grams
    • Monounsaturated Fat: 0.016 grams
    • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.249 grams
  • Vitamins:
    • Vitamin C: 31.2 milligrams
    • Vitamin B6: 1.235 milligrams
    • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): 0.2 milligrams
    • Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 0.7 milligrams
    • Vitamin B9 (Folate): 3 micrograms
  • Minerals:
    • Manganese: 1.672 milligrams
    • Calcium: 181 milligrams
    • Iron: 1.7 milligrams
    • Phosphorus: 153 milligrams
    • Potassium: 401 milligrams
    • Copper: 0.299 milligrams
    • Selenium: 14.2 micrograms
    • Zinc: 1.16 milligrams

It’s important to note that the nutritional profile of garlic can change when it is cooked or processed. The values provided here are for raw garlic.


What are the health benefits of Garlic?

Garlic has long been recognized for its potential health benefits. Here are some of the key health benefits associated with garlic:

  1. Antimicrobial Properties: Garlic contains compounds with antimicrobial properties, including allicin, which has been shown to help fight various types of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It may be effective against common infections like the common cold and flu.
  2. Cardiovascular Health: Garlic has been associated with improved cardiovascular health. It may help reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and inhibit the formation of blood clots, thus reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  3. Antioxidant Effects: Garlic contains antioxidants that help protect the body against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants can help prevent chronic diseases, including certain types of cancer, and slow down the aging process.
  4. Anti-inflammatory Properties: Some compounds in garlic have anti-inflammatory effects. Chronic inflammation is associated with various health problems, including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and certain cancers. Garlic’s anti-inflammatory properties may help mitigate these risks.
  5. Immune System Support: Garlic is believed to boost the immune system, helping the body fight off infections and diseases. It stimulates the activity of immune cells and enhances the production of antibodies, which can enhance overall immune function.
  6. Cancer Prevention: Several studies suggest that garlic consumption may be associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, particularly those affecting the digestive system. The organosulfur compounds in garlic are thought to have anti-cancer effects.
  7. Improved Digestion: Garlic can aid digestion by promoting the production of digestive enzymes and enhancing the absorption of nutrients. It may also help alleviate certain gastrointestinal issues like bloating and gas.
  8. Detoxification: Garlic supports liver function and helps the body eliminate toxins. It contains sulphur compounds that activate enzymes responsible for detoxification processes in the liver.
  9. Bone Health: Garlic has been linked to improved bone health. It may help increase estragon levels in females, which can contribute to maintaining bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

It’s worth noting that while garlic offers potential health benefits, it’s not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have specific health concerns or conditions, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.


How to use Garlic?

Here are some common methods of using garlic:

  1. Raw: Raw garlic has a strong and pungent flavor. It can be minced or finely chopped and added to dishes like salads, salsas, dressings, or sauces for a punch of flavor. However, keep in mind that raw garlic can be quite potent, so you may want to use it sparingly if you prefer milder taste.
  2. Cooked: Cooking garlic mellows its flavor and brings out its sweetness. You can sauté minced or sliced garlic in oil or butter as a base for many savory dishes, such as stir-fries, pasta sauces, soups, or stews. It adds depth and aroma to the overall flavor of the dish.
  3. Roasted: Roasting garlic yields a mellow and caramelized flavor. Cut off the top of a garlic bulb, drizzle it with olive oil, wrap it in foil, and roast it in the oven until soft and golden. The roasted cloves can be squeezed out and spread onto bread, used in dips, or mashed into mashed potatoes for a rich and savory taste.
  4. Garlic Powder: Garlic powder is a convenient option when fresh garlic is not available or when you prefer a milder flavor. It can be used as a seasoning in marinades, spice rubs, or added directly to dishes like soups, stews, or roasted vegetables.
  5. Garlic Paste: Garlic paste is made by crushing or grinding fresh garlic cloves into a smooth paste. It can be used as a flavoring agent in various recipes, such as curries, marinades, or dressings. Garlic paste is also available in pre-packaged tubes for convenience.
  6. Pickled Garlic: Pickled garlic is prepared by preserving garlic cloves in a vinegar-based brine. It adds a tangy and slightly acidic flavor to dishes. Pickled garlic can be used as a condiment or added to salads, sandwiches, or antipasto platters.

Remember to adjust the amount of garlic based on your personal preference and the recipe you’re following. Start with smaller amounts and add more gradually to achieve the desired flavor intensity.

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