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Garlic nutrition facts

Since time immemorial, garlic has been recognized in almost all of the cultures for its medicinal as well as culinary properties. This wonderful herbal plant, grown for its underground root or bulb, contains many health promoting phyto-nutrient substances that have proven benefits against coronary artery diseases, infections and cancers.

This root herb plant belongs to the family of Alliaceae of the genus Allium; and scientifically known as Allium sativum. It is believed to be originating in the mountainous Central Asian region from where it has spread all over the temperate and subtropical regions of the world.

Allium sativum is a perennial crop and is grown by methods similar to those used in growing onions. Fully-grown plant reaches about 50 to 60 cm in height and bears underground bulbous root containing about 8-20 bulblets known as cloves. The whole bulb is encased by several layers of white or mauve-tinged thin papery coverings.

Several cultivar varieties exist from extra large elephant garlic to small sized solo garlic. Allium oleraceum or field garlic is a wild, tall variety commonly grown in the United Kingdom.

Unlike in onion, the flowers of the garlic plant are sterile and therefore do not produce seeds. New plants generally are grown from planting the individual sections of the bulb.

Health benefits of Garlic

  • Strong flavored, garlic cloves contain many noteworthy minerals, vitamins, anti-oxidants, and phyto-nutrients that have proven health benefits.

  • Its bulbs contain organic thio-sulfinites such as diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide and allyl propyl disulfide that can form allicin by enzymatic reaction, which is activated by disruption of bulb (like crushing, cutting etc).

  • Laboratory studies show that allicin reduces cholesterol production by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase enzyme in the liver cells.

  • Allicin also decreases blood vessel stiffness by release of nitric oxide (NO); thereby bring reduction in the total blood pressure. It also blocks platelet clot formation and has fibrinolytic action in the blood vessels, which helps decrease the overall risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD) and stroke.

  • Research studies also found that consumption of garlic is associated with possible decrease in the incidence of stomach cancer.

  • Allicin and other essential volatile compounds in the garlic also found to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal activities.

  • Garlic is an excellent source of minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. The bulbs are one of the richest sources of potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and selenium. Selenium is a heart-healthy mineral, and is an important cofactor for anti-oxidant enzymes in the body. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.

  • It contains many flavonoid anti-oxidants like carotene beta, zea-xanthin, and vitamins like vitamin-C. Vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.

Garlic cloves have amazingly high levels of vitamins and minerals. Just 100 g provides (in % of Recommended daily allowance)

95% of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine),
52% of vitamin C,
33% of copper,
21% of iron,
18% of calcium,
26% Selenium, and
73% of manganese
but no cholesterol.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Garlic (Allium sativum), Nutrient value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 149 Kcal 7.5%
Carbohydrates 33.06 g 25%
Protein 6.36 g 11%
Total Fat 0.5 g 2%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 2.1 g 5.5%

Folates 3 µg 1%
Niacin 0.700 mg 4%
Pantothenic acid 0.596 mg 12%
Pyridoxine 1.235 mg 95%
Riboflavin 0.110 mg 8%
Thiamin 0.200 mg 17%
Vitamin A 9 IU <1%
Vitamin C 31.2 mg 52%
Vitamin E 0.08 mg 0.5%
Vitamin K 1.7 µg 1.5%

Sodium 153 mg 10%
Potassium 401 mg 8.5%

Calcium 181 mg 18 %
Copper 0.299 mg 33%
Iron 1.70 mg 21%
Magnesium 25 mg 6%
Manganese 1.672 mg 73%
Phosphorus 153 mg 22%
Selenium 14.2 µg 26%
Zinc 1.160 mg 10.5%

Carotene-ß 5 µg --
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 µg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 16 µg --

Selection and storage

Garlic bulbs are generally harvested when the lower leaves turn yellow and showing signs of dryness. Later the bulbs are air dried under the shade for few weeks before sold in the market.

In the store, several forms of garlic found, such as whole bulbs, dried, individual cloves, processed cloves, dry-powder, or paste.

Dry bulbs can be stored at room temperature placed in a cool dark environment away from humidity where they stay in good condition for several weeks. Garlic paste, however should be stored inside the refrigerator.

Medicinal uses

  • This herb has been used since long time in many traditional Indian and Chinese medicines as remedy for cold, cough, bronchitis etc.

  • Garlic oil has been used as a local applicant for "ring worm" (fungal dermatitis) infection of skin.

  • In modern medicine, this exotic herb is advised as health benefiting food for its anti-microbial, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and immune boosting and cholesterol-lowering properties.

Culinary uses

Both cloves as well as tender green tops of garlic plant are used in a variety of recipes, especially as seasoning.

In general, leaves are less pungent than the cloves and used in recipes in a similar way like onion tops. The outer coat is generally peeled by hand and internal creamy white, smooth bulblet is either chopped using a knife or crushed just before adding to the recipes.

Here are some serving tips:

  • It is used to enhance the flavor of vegetable, meat, and seafood preparations.

  • Its cloves are added to give spicy pungent flavor to the preparations like breads, toast and Bruschetta (a grilled bread slices rubbed with garlic paste with toppings such as olive oil, pepper, tomato, cheese, meat...etc.).

  • The cloves also been used in the preparation of season soups, and sauces.

  • Tender garlic tops are used like vegetables just like scallions and chives along with vegetables, eggs in some recipe preparations in East Asian countries.

Undesirable effects

The sulfide compounds in the garlic metabolized to allyl methyl sulfide, which is excreted through sweat and breathe producing unpleasant odor and breath (halitosis).

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