Saturday, August 22, 2009

Herbs & Spices Focus: Garlic

Garlic (Allium sativum) is from the Alliaceae family like its close relatives chives, leek, and onions. The edible herb most commonly associated with the name garlic is the bulb of garlic cloves that is found underground, below the leafy, scallion-like growth.

For over 4,000 years, garlic has had many important roles in human life. It is considered by most that Central Asia to be its place of origin. It was believed to be used as food flavoring and seasoning. Garlic was being used in Egypt by 3,000 B.C. Later it was used in Pakistan and Western India and spread to China. The Spanish, Portuguese and French introduced it to the New World. Today, garlic is grown all over the world.[

Garlic has many benefits because it PROMOTES:
  • Heart Health; lowers blood pressure and decreases platelet aggregation, serum triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol, while increasing serum HDL-cholesterol.
  • Optimal Inflammatory Status: helpful in protecting against attacks of asthma and in reducing the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Optimal Health: It is a powerful antibacterial and antiviral agent that joins forces with vitamin C to help kill microbes. It is also helps protect against colon cancer.
  • Healthy Weight Control: The most potent an active part of garlic, allicin, has been shown to lower blood pressure, insulin, and triglycerides and can prevent weight gain!
  • Optimal Antioxidant Status: Garlic is power packed with so many vitamins and minerals; vitamin C, selenium, manganese and copper. Its sulfur-containing phytonutrients also promote antioxidant activity.
  • Other Health Benefits: Garlic is also full of bone-building calcium, energy-producing vitamin B1, and phosphorus, muscle-building protein, and sleep-promoting tryptophan!
  • Reference "The World's Healthiest Foods"

With so many health benefits including the antibacterial and antiviral properties, and considering flu season is approaching, make sure you add garlic to your diet!

  • Herbs: These are leaves of low-growing shrubs. Popular herbs include parsley, chives, marjoram, thyme, basil, caraway, dill, oregano, rosemary, savory, sage, and celery leaves.
  • Spices: These come from the bark (cinnamon), root (ginger, onion, garlic), buds (cloves, saffron), seeds (yellow mustard, poppy, sesame), berries (black pepper), or fruit (allspice, paprika) of tropical plants and trees.

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