National Garlic Day: April 19

National Garlic Day Celebrates the Stinking Rose We Love So Much

bulb of garlicIt’s tough to think about life without garlic, especially if you’re an avid cook, or just a plain old fashioned fan of eating. Are we wrong on this? If you’re of some cultural persuasions, then you might even be inclined to throw a few bulbs in the oven from time to time, cover it in a bit of butter or salt, roast it to a golden yellow, and eat it whole, or spread over a bit of toasted baguette like it’s a savory, special jam. Garlic, beloved for both its heartiness in the ground as well as its ability to flavor just about any dish from just about any cultural cuisine, has so much to offer beyond mere flavor, including a ton of health benefits.

The garlic bulb is a considered to be a native plant of central Asia whose history has been noted by some to be as long as six thousand years. Gracing the kitchens, cooking, and dishes of disparate cultures from the Mediterranean to Africa, all over Europe and especially Asia, garlic is a staple that has more than proven its dietary worth.

History of Garlic: A Brief Guide to the Bulb

Garlic FlowerAmong the world’s greatest producers of garlic, China tops the list, followed by India, among others. It’s been talked about as being used as a dietary staple by the Egyptians, who fed it to workers as they built the pyramids. It’s been noted to have been used as a weapon against the plague during the Middle Ages. The exact etymology of the word garlic comes from Old English: garleac, which means spear leek.

And of course, the lore of garlic extends into mythology? Should we call it that? With strands of garlic bulbs considered to be one of the few things a mortal person could use to defend themselves against the threat of a vampire.

Health Benefits of Garlic: Believe the Hype? Or Not?

If you’re alive, then most likely you’ve heard once or twice that eating garlic on a consistent basis has a net positive effect on your overall health. So what’s the deal here? Several cultures and medicinal styles regard garlic as a kind of miracle drug served up directly from the universe’s doctor, Mother Nature. Prevents cancer? Maybe. We’ve heard that. Turning your high blood pressure back down to normal levels? We’ve heard about that too. Fighting off the flu or seasonal cold? Sure, throw that in there. But is it all true?

What we do know about garlic, is that it contains seventeen different amino acids. And it contains a wealth of necessary vitamins, including C. Including B-1. Including Vitamin A, as well. Did you know that garlic contains calcium? What about iron? Minerals such as these, and magnesium too, are all on the list of healthy benefits of eating garlic.

As a medicinal herb, garlic has been shown to positively impact the body in the following ways (according to our friends at Holiday Insights):

  • Phytochemicals in garlic are believed to provide protection against heart disease and cancer. Specifically, stomach and colo-rectal cancers.
  • Helps to fight off colds and flu.
  • Lowers blood cholesterol levels.
  • Reduces the buildup of plaque in arteries.
  • Used as a treatment for acne and warts.
  • Used for toothaches

When you cut or crush garlic during the cooking process, the bulb contains an enzyme that combines with an amino acid. This new combination creates a compound known as allicin, which has been shown to kill more than twenty types of bacteria (and that includes staphylococcus AND salmonella).

When you heat up garlic during the cooking process, the bulb works a different kind of magic, and another new compound is formed.  This one has been shown to prevent human arteries from clogging. Further benefits of heated garlic include the herb’s ability to reduce blood pressure, and to lower a person’s cholesterol levels. According to some sources, garlic also has the ability to thin human’s blood, which has been shown to aid in the prevention of both strokes, and heart attacks.

What To Do About Garlic Breath: Home Remedies

Garlic Bulbs HarvestedIf you love garlic, then going out on a first date that involves ordering around your favorite herb may be a smart thing to do. Ever tried to kiss someone with a ton of garlic on their breath? For the most part, not an entirely pleasant experience. So what can you do about it? Aside from over the counter products that claim to take the bad breath away, nature’s remedies (supposedly — if you know of another one, please do share your story below in the comment section!) include parsley, which may explain the presence of the herb as a garnish on so many dinner plates. And there’s some talk too of sipping milk to alleviate bad garlic breath.

But does everyone love garlic? Apparently not, as there is officially a word for people who have an unnatural fear of the wonder herb. Want to know what that word is? Alliumphobia is technically the term for the fear of garlic.

[Photos Via: lancastria;; Daily Green]

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