For the past 7,000 years, people have been eating garlic. This ancient herb is closely related to the onion, shallot, leek, and chive, and is a native plant to central Asia. Popular in Mediterranean dishes, garlic is also commonly found in Asian, African, and European cuisine. Garlic was even used in Ancient Egypt, for both flavoring purposes, and for its medicinal properties. China is the world’s leading producer of garlic, cultivating 20 million tons of it in 2012, eclipsing India (the runner-up), which produced only 1.15 million tons! The bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant. The bulb is divided into cloves, which can then be crushed even more via a garlic press, or diced with a kitchen knife. Garlic can be stored close to room temperature (64 degrees) and should be kept dry. Traditionally, garlic is hung, however, it can be kept in oil, wine, or vinegar.
Garlic offers a wide variety of health benefits
Garlic offers a wide variety of health benefits that impact a multitude of bodily systems. Garlic preparations have been shown to lower total cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol when taken longer than two months. Garlic consumption has been associated with a lower risk of stomach cancer in Korean people. Today, garlic is usually used to increase overall immune health, and for its antioxidant properties. However, recent evidence has suggested that garlic could be used to promote overall kidney health due to its diuretic properties.
Diuretics increase the amount of sodium that is put into the urine, salt absorbs water from the blood, decreasing the amount of blood in the circulatory system, which lowers blood pressure. Hypertension (high blood pressure) can harm the blood vessels in the kidney, along with many other vital organs. As the kidney is damaged by high blood pressure, it is less efficient in its quest to filter water out of the bloodstream. Some believe that garlic has the potential to protect the kidneys from heavy metals, and other environmental poisons. A study conducted in Jordan found that garlic may lower concentrations of cadmium and lead in the kidneys, liver, heart, blood, and spleen.
Safety of Consumption
Unless you have an allergy to garlic, you really have nothing to worry about when it comes to the safety of consumption. If you eat too much garlic you could get bad breath and body odor, some cases have reported bloating and an upset stomach. In exceedingly rare cases garlic has been related to dizziness, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Garlic has natural blood thinning capabilities, and some recommend its ingestion should be limited before giving birth, or surgery, to reduce the risk of bleeding. So next time you are cooking dinner, think about adding a dash of garlic. Your taste buds and your body will thank you.