See also Onions.
Energy value (calories per serving): Low
Saturated fat: Low Cholesterol: None Carbohydrates: High Fiber: High
Major vitamin contribution: Vitamin C
Major mineral contribution: Iron, selenium
About the Nutrients in This Food
Although raw garlic has some fiber and protein plus vitamins and minerals, we rarely eat enough garlic to get useful amounts of these nutrients.
Source: USDA Nut rient Data Laborator y. Nat ional Nut rient Database for Standard Reference. Available online. UR L : http://w w w.nal.usda. gov/fnic/foodcomp/search /.
Elephant garlic, a cross between an onion and garlic that may grow as large as a grapefruit, has a milder flavor than regular garlic.
Garlic contains alliin and allicin, two sulfur compounds with antibi- otic activity. In a number of laboratory experiments, garlic juice appears to inhibit the growth of a broad variety of bacteria, yeast, and fungi growing in test tubes, but its effects on human beings have yet to be proven.
Diets That May Restrict or Exclude This Food
Buying This Food
Look for: Firm, solid cloves with tight clinging skin. If the skin is paper y and pulling away from the cloves and the head feels light for its size, the garlic has withered or rotted away inside.
The Most Nutritious Way to Serve This Food
Storing This Food
Store garlic in a cool, dark, air y place to keep it from dr ying out or sprouting. ( When garlic sprouts, diallyl disulfide—the sulfur compound that gives fresh garlic its distinctive taste and odor—goes into the new growth and the garlic itself becomes milder.) A n unglazed ceramic “garlic keeper” will protect the garlic from moisture while allowing air to circulate freely around the head and cloves. Properly stored, garlic will keep for several months.
Do not refrigerate garlic unless you live in a very hot and humid climate.
Preparing This Food
To peel garlic easily, blanch the cloves in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then drain and cool. Slice off the root end, and the skin should come right off without sticking to your fin- gers. Or you can put a head of fresh, raw garlic on a flat surface and hit the flat end with the flat side of a knife. The head will come apart and the skin should come off easily.
To get the most “garlicky” taste from garlic cloves, chop or mash them or extract the oil with a garlic press. When you cut into a garlic clove, you tear its cell walls, releasing an enzyme that converts sulfur compounds in the garlic into ammonia, pyruvic acid, and diallyl disulfide.
What Happens When You Cook This Food
Heating garlic destroys its diallyl disulfide, which is why cooked garlic is so much milder tasting than raw garlic.
How Other Kinds of Processing Affect This Food
Drying. Drying removes moisture from garlic but leaves the oils intact. Powdered garlic and garlic salt should be stored in a cool, dry place to keep their oils from turning rancid. Garlic salt is much higher in sodium than either raw garlic, garlic powder, or dried garlic flakes.
Medical Uses and/or Benefits
Protection against some cancers. The organic sulfur compounds in garlic and onions appear to reduce the risk of some forms of cancer perhaps by preventing the formation of carcinogens in your body or by blocking carcinogens from reaching or reacting with sensitive body tis- sues or by inhibiting the transformation of healthy cells to malignant ones.
Protection against circulatory diseases. In a number of laboratory studies during the 1980s, adding garlic oil to animal feeds reduced levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), the fat and protein particles that carry cholesterol into your arteries, and raised levels of high density lipoproteins (HDLs), the particles that carry cholesterol out of the body. However, current studies are contradictory. One year-long study at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center showed that daily doses of aged garlic (brand name Kyolic) appeared to reduce the formation of cholesterol deposits in arteries while lowering blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid the American Heart Association calls an independent risk factor for heart disease. But another study funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a division of the National Institutes of Health, to determine the safety and effec- tiveness of garlic showed that neither fresh garlic nor powdered garlic nor garlic tablets have any effect on cholesterol levels.
Adverse Effects Associated with This Food
Body odor, halitosis. Diallyl disulfide is excreted in perspiration and in the air you exhale, which is why eating garlic makes you smell garlicky.
Anticoagulants (blood thinners). Garlic appears to reduce blood’s ability to clot, thus increas- ing the effect of anticoagulants, including aspirin. NCCAM recommends using garlic with caution before surgery, including dental surgery. Patients who have a clotting disorder should consult their own doctors before using garlic.