GARLIC (scientific name ALLIUM SATIVUM) is a species in the onion
Its close relatives include the onion , shallot , leek , chive , and
Chinese onion . With a history of several thousand years of human
consumption and use, garlic is native to
Central Asia and northeastern
Iran , and has long been a common seasoning worldwide. It was known
to Ancient Egyptians , and has been used both as a food flavoring and
as a traditional medicine .
* 1 Description
* 2 Origin and major types
* 2.1 European garlic
* 3 Subspecies and varieties
* 4 Cultivation
* 4.1 Diseases
* 5 Production
* 6 Uses
* 6.1 Culinary uses
* 6.1.1 Regions
* 6.2 Storage
* 6.3 Historical use
* 6.4 Nutrients
* 6.5 Research
* 6.5.1 Cardiovascular
* 6.5.2 Cancer
* 6.6 Other uses
* 6.7 Adverse effects and toxicology
* 6.8 Spiritual and religious uses
* 7 Properties
* 8 Gallery
* 9 See also
* 10 References
* 11 Bibliography
* 12 External links
Allium sativum is a bulbous plant. It grows up to 1.2 m (4 ft) in
height. Its hardiness is USDA Zone 8 . It produces hermaphrodite
flowers. It is pollinated by bees and other insects.
ORIGIN AND MAJOR TYPES
Allium sativum grows in the wild in areas where it has become
naturalized . The "wild garlic", "crow garlic", and "field garlic " of
Britain are members of the species
Allium ursinum ,
Allium vineale ,
Allium oleraceum , respectively. Identification of the wild
progenitor of common garlic is difficult, due to the sterility of its
many cultivars which may all be descended from the species Allium
longicuspis, which grows wild in central and southwestern
In North America,
Allium vineale (known as "wild garlic" or "crow
Allium canadense , known as "meadow garlic" or "wild
garlic" and "wild onion", are common weeds in fields. So-called
elephant garlic is actually a wild leek (
Allium ampeloprasum ), and
not a true garlic. Single clove garlic (also called pearl or solo
garlic) originated in the
Yunnan province of China.
There are a number of garlics with
Protected Geographical Status
Protected Geographical Status in
Europe; these include:
Aglio Rosso di Nubia (Red
Garlic of Nubia)
Nubia-Paceco, Provincia di
Sicily , Italy
Aglio Bianco Polesano
Veneto , Italy (PDO)
Aglio di Voghiera
Emilia-Romagna , Italy (PDO)
Ail blanc de Lomagne
Lomagne in the
Gascony , France (PGI)
Ail de la Drôme
Drôme , France (PGI)
Ail rose de
Lautrec , a rose/pink garlic
Lautrec , France (PGI)
Ajo Morado de las Pedroñeras, a rose/pink garlic
Las Pedroñeras , Spain (PGI)
Italian garlic Bulbils
SUBSPECIES AND VARIETIES
There are two subspecies of A. sativum, ten major groups of
varieties, and hundreds of varieties or cultivars.
* A. sativum var. ophioscorodon (Link) Döll, called Ophioscorodon,
or hard-necked garlic, includes porcelain garlics, rocambole garlic,
and purple stripe garlics. It is sometimes considered to be a separate
Allium ophioscorodon G.Don.
* A. sativum var. sativum, or soft-necked garlic, includes artichoke
garlic, silverskin garlic, and creole garlic.
Garlic is easy to grow and can be grown year-round in mild climates.
While sexual propagation of garlic is possible, nearly all of the
garlic in cultivation is propagated asexually , by planting individual
cloves in the ground. In colder climates, cloves are planted in the
autumn, about six weeks before the soil freezes, and harvested in late
spring or early summer. The cloves must be planted deep enough to
prevent freeze/thaw, which causes mold or white rot.
Garlic plants can be grown closely together, leaving enough space for
the bulbs to mature, and are easily grown in containers of sufficient
Garlic does well in loose, dry, well-drained soils in sunny
locations, and is hardy throughout USDA climate zones 4–9. When
selecting garlic for planting, it is important to pick large bulbs
from which to separate cloves. Large cloves, along with proper spacing
in the planting bed, will also improve bulb size.
Garlic plants prefer
to grow in a soil with a high organic material content, but are
capable of growing in a wide range of soil conditions and pH levels.
There are different varieties or subspecies of garlic, most notably
hardneck garlic and softneck garlic. The latitude where the garlic is
grown affects the choice of type, as garlic can be day-length
sensitive. Hardneck garlic is generally grown in cooler climates and
produces relatively large cloves, whereas softneck garlic is generally
grown closer to the equator and produces small, tightly-packed cloves.
Garlic scapes are removed to focus all the garlic's energy into bulb
growth. The scapes can be eaten raw or cooked.
Garlic plants are usually hardy and not affected by many pests or
Garlic plants are said to repel rabbits and moles .
However, pathogens that affect garlic are nematodes and wood-decay
fungus , which remain in the soil indefinitely after the ground has
Garlic may also suffer from pink root, a typically
non-fatal disease that stunts the roots and turns them pink or red,
leek rot or downy mildew .
Although in 2014, world production of garlic was 25 million tonnes ,
China alone accounting for 80% of the total.
India is the second
largest producer, with other countries growing less than 0.5 million
Much of the garlic production in the United States is centered in
Gilroy, California , which calls itself the "garlic capital of the
TOP GARLIC PRODUCERS IN 2014
(millions of tonnes )
May include official, semi-official or estimated data
Source: UN Food ">
Garlic being crushed using a garlic press
String of garlic
Garlic is widely used around the world for its pungent flavor as a
seasoning or condiment.
The garlic plant's bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant.
With the exception of the single clove types, garlic bulbs are
normally divided into numerous fleshy sections called cloves. Garlic
cloves are used for consumption (raw or cooked) or for medicinal
purposes. They have a characteristic pungent, spicy flavor that
mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking.
Other parts of the garlic plant are also edible. The leaves and
flowers (bulbils ) on the head (spathe ) are sometimes eaten. They are
milder in flavor than the bulbs, and are most often consumed while
immature and still tender. Immature garlic is sometimes pulled, rather
like a scallion, and sold as "green garlic". When green garlic is
allowed to grow past the "scallion" stage, but not permitted to fully
mature, it may produce a garlic "round", a bulb like a boiling onion,
but not separated into cloves like a mature bulb. It imparts a garlic
flavor and aroma in food, minus the spiciness. Green garlic is often
chopped and stir-fried or cooked in soup or hotpot in Southeast Asian
(i.e. Vietnamese , Thai , Lao , Cambodian , Singaporean ) and Chinese
cookery , and is very abundant and low-priced. Additionally, the
immature flower stalks (scapes ) of the hardneck and elephant types
are sometimes marketed for uses similar to asparagus in stir-fries .
Inedible or rarely eaten parts of the garlic plant include the "skin"
covering each clove and root cluster. The papery, protective layers of
"skin" over various parts of the plant are generally discarded during
preparation for most culinary uses, though in Korea immature whole
heads are sometimes prepared with the tender skins intact. The root
cluster attached to the basal plate of the bulb is the only part not
typically considered palatable in any form. An alternative is to cut
the top off the bulb, coat the cloves by dribbling olive oil (or other
oil-based seasoning) over them, and roast them in an oven . Garlic
softens and can be extracted from the cloves by squeezing the (root)
end of the bulb, or individually by squeezing one end of the clove. In
Korea, heads of garlic are heated over the course of several weeks;
the resulting product, called black garlic , is sweet and syrupy, and
is now being sold in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.
Garlic may be applied to different kinds of bread, usually in a
medium of butter or oil, to create a variety of classic dishes, such
as garlic bread , garlic toast, bruschetta , crostini and canapé .
The flavor varies in intensity and aroma with the different cooking
methods. It is often paired with onion , tomato , or ginger .
Immature scapes are tender and edible. They are also known as "garlic
spears", "stems", or "tops". Scapes generally have a milder taste than
the cloves. They are often used in stir frying or braised like
Garlic leaves are a popular vegetable in many parts of
Asia. The leaves are cut, cleaned, and then stir-fried with eggs,
meat, or vegetables.
Garlic powder has a different taste from fresh garlic. If used as a
substitute for fresh garlic, 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder is
approximate to one clove of garlic. Green garlic Garlic
cloves pickled by simply storing them in vinegar in a refrigerator.
This also yields garlic-infused vinegar to use in recipes or as a
Garlic is a fundamental component in many or most dishes of various
regions, including eastern Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the
Middle East, northern Africa, southern Europe , and parts of Latin
Latin American seasonings, particularly, use garlic in
sofritos and mofongos .
Oils can be flavored with garlic cloves. These infused oils are used
to season all categories of vegetables , meats, breads and pasta .
Garlic, along with fish sauce , chopped fresh chilis, lime juice ,
sugar and water, is a basic essential item in dipping fish sauce , a
highly used dipping sauce condiment used in
Indochina . In East and
Asia , chili oil with garlic is a popular dipping sauce ,
especially for meat and seafood.
Tuong ot toi Viet Nam (Vietnam Chili
Garlic Sauce) is a highly popular condiment and dip across North
America and Asia.
In some cuisines, the young bulbs are pickled for three to six weeks
in a mixture of sugar, salt, and spices. In eastern Europe, the shoots
are pickled and eaten as an appetizer.
Laba garlic , prepared by
soaking garlic in vinegar , is a type of pickled garlic served with
dumplings in northern
China to celebrate the
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year .
Lightly smoked garlic is used in British and European cuisine. It is
particularly prized for stuffing poultry and game, and in soups and
Mixing garlic with egg yolks and olive oil produces aioli . Garlic,
oil, and a chunky base produce skordalia . Blending garlic, almond ,
oil, and soaked bread produces ajoblanco .
Tzatziki , yogurt mixed
with garlic and salt is a common sauce in Eastern Mediterranean
A basket of garlic bulbs.
Domestically, garlic is stored warm and dry to keep it dormant (to
inhibit sprouting). It is traditionally hung; softneck varieties are
often braided in strands called plaits or grappes. Peeled cloves may
be stored in wine or vinegar in the refrigerator. Commercially,
garlic is stored at 0 °C (32 °F), in a dry, low-humidity
Garlic will keep longer if the tops remain attached.
Garlic is often kept in oil to produce flavored oil; however, the
practice requires measures to be taken to prevent the garlic from
spoiling which may include rancidity and growth of Clostridium
botulinum . Acidification with a mild solution of vinegar minimizes
bacterial growth. Refrigeration does not assure the safety of garlic
kept in oil, requiring use within one month to avoid bacterial
Harvesting garlic, from
Tacuinum sanitatis , 15th century
Bibliothèque nationale )
The use of garlic in
China dates back thousands of years. It was
consumed by ancient Greek and Roman soldiers, sailors, and rural
Virgil , Ecologues ii. 11), and, according to Pliny the Elder
(Natural History xix. 32), by the African peasantry.
it as the "rustic's theriac" (cure-all) (see F. Adams' Paulus
Aegineta, p. 99), and
Alexander Neckam , a writer of the 12th century
(see Wright's edition of his works, p. 473, 1863), discussed it as a
palliative for the heat of the sun in field labor.
Garlic was placed
by the ancient Greeks on the piles of stones at crossroads, as a
Theophrastus , Characters, The Superstitious Man).
According to Pliny, garlic and onions were invoked as deities by the
Egyptians at the taking of oaths.
In his Natural History, Pliny gives a list of scenarios in which
garlic was considered beneficial (N.H. xx. 23). In the 17th century Dr
Thomas Sydenham valued it as an application in confluent smallpox ,
William Cullen 's Materia Medica of 1789 found some dropsies
cured by it alone.
Garlic was rare in traditional English cuisine (though it is said to
have been grown in England before 1548) and has been a much more
common ingredient in Mediterranean Europe. When the English came to
America, they brought their anti-garlic attitude with them, and it
took almost three hundred years - likely because of continuing
puritanism influence - for this viewpoint to diminish, though garlic
was used as a folk medicine .
Translations of the c. 1300
Assize of Weights and Measures indicate
a passage as dealing with standardized units of garlic production,
sale, and taxation—the hundred of 15 ropes of 15 heads each —but
Latin version of the text refers to herring rather than garlic.
Garlic was used as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene during World
Wars I and II.
NUTRITIONAL VALUE PER 100 G (3.5 OZ)
623 kJ (149 kcal)
(17%) 0.2 mg
(9%) 0.11 mg
(5%) 0.7 mg
PANTOTHENIC ACID (B5)
(12%) 0.596 mg
(95%) 1.235 mg
(1%) 3 μg
(38%) 31.2 mg
(18%) 181 mg
(13%) 1.7 mg
(7%) 25 mg
(80%) 1.672 mg
(22%) 153 mg
(9%) 401 mg
(1%) 17 mg
(12%) 1.16 mg
Link to USDA Database entry
* μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
* IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
In the typical serving size of 1–3 cloves (3–9 grams), garlic
provides no significant nutritional value, with the content of all
essential nutrients below 10% of the
Daily Value (DV) (table). When
expressed per 100 grams, garlic contains several nutrients in rich
amounts (20% or more of the DV), including vitamins B6 and C , and the
dietary minerals , manganese and phosphorus . Per 100 gram serving,
garlic is also a moderate source (10–19% DV) of certain B vitamins,
including thiamin and pantothenic acid , as well as the dietary
minerals, calcium , iron , and zinc (table).
The composition of raw garlic is 59% water, 33% carbohydrates , 6%
protein , 2% dietary fiber and less than 1% fat .
A great deal of low quality clinical research has been conducted to
determine the effect of garlic on preventing cardiovascular diseases
and on various biomarkers of cardiovascular health, but as of 2015,
the results were contradictory and it was not known if there are any
effects. A 2016 meta-analysis indicated there was no effect of
garlic consumption on blood levels of lipoprotein(a) , a marker of
Because garlic might reduce platelet aggregation , people taking
anticoagulant medication are cautioned about consuming garlic.
A 2016 meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies found a
moderate inverse association between garlic intake and some cancers of
the upper digestive tract . Another meta-analysis found decreased
rates of gastric cancer associated with garlic intake, but cited
confounding factors as limitations for interpreting these studies.
Further meta-analyses found similar results on the incidence of
gastric cancer by consuming allium vegetables including garlic. A
2014 meta-analysis of observational epidemiological studies found that
garlic consumption was associated with a lower risk of stomach cancer
in Korean people.
A 2016 meta-analysis found no effect of garlic on colorectal cancer.
A 2014 meta-analysis found garlic supplements or allium vegetables to
have no effect on colorectal cancers .
A 2013 meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies found limited
evidence for an association between higher garlic consumption and
reduced risk of prostate cancer , but the studies were suspected as
having publication bias . A 2013 meta-analysis of epidemiological
studies found garlic intake to be associated with decreased risk of
A 2014 Cochrane review found eight clinical trials examining garlic
as a treatment for the common cold ; it excluded seven due to
methodological flaws. The remaining trial, having moderate quality of
evidence, concluded that people who took garlic (dietary supplement
with 180 milligrams of allicin content) daily over a three-month
period had fewer colds. The review indicated there is insufficient
evidence to determine the effects of garlic in preventing or treating
the common cold. Other reviews concluded a similar absence of
high-quality evidence for garlic having a significant effect on the
The sticky juice within the bulb cloves is used as an adhesive in
mending glass and porcelain . An environmentally benign
garlic-derived polysulfide product is approved for use in the European
Union (under Annex 1 of 91/414) and the UK as a nematicide and
insecticide , including for use for control of cabbage root fly and
red mite in poultry.
Garlic is used as a fish and meat preservative, and displays
antimicrobial effects at temperatures as high as 120 degree Celsius.
ADVERSE EFFECTS AND TOXICOLOGY
Garlic is known to cause bad breath (halitosis ) and body odor,
described as a pungent "garlicky" smell to sweat. This is caused by
allyl methyl sulfide (AMS). AMS is a volatile liquid which is absorbed
into the blood during the metabolism of garlic-derived sulfur
compounds; from the blood it travels to the lungs (and from there to
the mouth, causing bad breath; see garlic breath ) and skin, where it
is exuded through skin pores. Washing the skin with soap is only a
partial and imperfect solution to the smell. Studies have shown
sipping milk at the same time as consuming garlic can significantly
neutralize bad breath. Mixing garlic with milk in the mouth before
swallowing reduced the odor better than drinking milk afterward.
Plain water, mushrooms and basil may also reduce the odor; the mix of
fat and water found in milk, however, was the most effective.
The green, dry "folds" in the center of the garlic clove are
especially pungent . The sulfur compound allicin , produced by
crushing or chewing fresh garlic, produces other sulfur compounds:
ajoene , allyl polysulfides, and vinyldithiins . Aged garlic lacks
allicin, but may have some activity due to the presence of
Some people suffer from allergies to garlic and other species of
Allium . Symptoms can include irritable bowel , diarrhea , mouth and
throat ulcerations, nausea , breathing difficulties, and, in rare
cases, anaphylaxis . Garlic-sensitive patients show positive tests to
diallyl disulfide , allylpropyldisulfide, allylmercaptan and allicin,
all of which are present in garlic. People who suffer from garlic
allergies are often sensitive to many other plants, including onions ,
chives , leeks , shallots , garden lilies, ginger , and bananas .
Several reports of serious burns resulting from garlic being applied
topically for various purposes, including naturopathic uses and acne
treatment, indicate care must be taken for these uses, usually testing
a small area of skin using a very low concentration of garlic. On the
basis of numerous reports of such burns, including burns to children,
topical use of raw garlic, as well as insertion of raw garlic into
body cavities, is discouraged. In particular, topical application of
raw garlic to young children is not advisable. The side effects of
long-term garlic supplementation are largely unknown, and no
FDA-approved study has been performed. Possible side effects include
gastrointestinal discomfort, sweating, dizziness, allergic reactions,
bleeding, and menstrual irregularities.
Some breastfeeding mothers have found, after consuming garlic, that
their babies can be slow to feed, and have noted a garlic odor coming
If higher-than-recommended doses of garlic are taken with
anticoagulant medications, this can lead to a higher risk of bleeding.
Garlic may interact with warfarin , antiplatelets , saquinavir ,
antihypertensives , calcium channel blockers , the quinolone family of
antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin , and hypoglycemic drugs, as well as
other medications. Alliums might be toxic to cats or dogs.
SPIRITUAL AND RELIGIOUS USES
In myths , garlic has been regarded as a force for both good and evil
. In Europe, many cultures have used garlic for protection or white
magic , perhaps owing to its reputation in folk medicine . Central
European folk beliefs considered garlic a powerful ward against demons
, werewolves , and vampires . To ward off vampires, garlic could be
worn, hung in windows, or rubbed on chimneys and keyholes.
In the foundation myth of the ancient Korean kingdom of
eating nothing but 20 cloves of garlic and a bundle of Korean mugwort
for 100 days let a bear be transformed into a woman .
In Iranian countries which celebrate
Nowruz (Persian calendar New
Year) such as Iran, the
Afghanistan , and Central
Asian countries such as
Uzbekistan , garlic is one of
the items in a
Seven-Seen table, a traditional New Year's display.
Islam , it is recommended not to eat raw garlic prior to going to
the mosque. This is based on several hadith .
Jainism , garlic is thought to stimulate and
warm the body and to increase one's desires. Some devout Hindus
generally avoid using garlic and the related onion in the preparation
of foods, while less devout followers may only observe this for
religious festivities and events. Followers of the
Jain religion avoid
eating garlic and onion on a daily basis.
Buddhist traditions, garlic – along with the other five
"pungent spices" – is understood to stimulate sexual and aggressive
drives to the detriment of meditation practice. In
Mahayana Buddhism ,
monks and nuns are not allowed to consume garlic or other pungent
spices such as chili, which are deemed as being "earthly pleasures"
and are viewed as promoting aggression due to their spiciness and
Alliin , a sulfur -containing compound found in garlic.
Fresh or crushed garlic yields the sulfur -containing compounds
alliin , ajoene , diallyl polysulfides, vinyldithiins ,
S-allylcysteine , and enzymes , saponins , flavonoids , and Maillard
reaction products, which are not sulfur-containing compounds.
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 (cytosol ). 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 react 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 onion, shallot, or leeks . Although many humans enjoy the
taste of garlic, these compounds are believed to have evolved as a
defensive mechanism, deterring animals such as birds , insects , and
worms from eating the plant. Because of this, people throughout
history have used garlic to keep away insects such as mosquitoes and
A large number of sulfur compounds contribute to the smell and taste
Allicin has been found to be the compound most responsible
for the "hot" sensation of raw garlic. This chemical opens
thermo-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. Allicin, along with
its decomposition products diallyl disulfide and diallyl trisulfide ,
are major contributors to the characteristic odor of garlic, with
other allicin-derived compounds, such as vinyldithiins and ajoene .
Because of its strong odor, garlic is sometimes called the "stinking
rose". When eaten in quantity, garlic may be strongly evident in the
diner's sweat and garlic breath the following day. This is because
garlic's 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
present for a long time.
The well-known phenomenon of "garlic breath" is allegedly alleviated
by eating fresh parsley . The herb is, therefore, included in many
garlic recipes, such as pistou , persillade , and the garlic butter
spread used in garlic bread .
Because of the AMS in the bloodstream, it is believed by some to act
as a mosquito repellent, but no clinically reported evidence suggests
it is actually effective.
Abundant sulfur compounds in garlic are also responsible for turning
garlic green or blue during pickling and cooking. Under these
conditions (i.e. acidity, heat) the sulfur-containing compound
alliinase react with common amino acids to make pyrroles , clusters of
carbon-nitrogen rings. These rings can be linked together into
polypyrrole molecules. Ring structures absorb particular wavelengths
of light and thus appear colored. The two-pyrrole molecule looks red,
the three-pyrrole molecule looks blue and the four-pyrrole molecule
looks green (like chlorophyll , a tetrapyrrole). Like chlorophyll, the
pyrrole pigments are safe to eat.
Upon cutting, similar to a color change in onion caused by reactions
of amino acids with sulfur compounds, garlic can turn green.
A bulb of garlic, not separated from the stem.
Garlic from a recent harvest
Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers . Directed by
Les Blank .
International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants
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