Garlic, or the stinking rose, tends to draw strong reactions out of people who love or hate the herb/vegetable. It is known for it's pungent aroma, and is commonly used in most dishes the way salt and pepper are added for flavor. Garlic, however, is teeming with health benefits and has been used or rejected around the world for it's various qualities.
The earliest recorded use of garlic dates back to the time of the Egyptians, about 5,000 years ago. The Egyptians eventually shared this herb with the greeks. Hippocrates used the herb to aid in digestive issues, respiratory conditions, and other health problems. The use of garlic remained in the Mediterranean, but also spread to South Asia. When the british colonized India, they were introduced to garlic for it's therapeutic and aphrodisiac qualities.
With the spread of the use of the garlic, certain classes and groups developed their own fondness or repulsion of the herb. Upper classes, in Europe mostly, disliked the odor and opted not to use it. Monks and other spiritualist, mainly in Asia, would vow or fast against the use of garlic because it was thought to be too much of a stimulant.
Every summer in Northern California, Gilroy host one of the largest garlic festivals with a variety of garlic flavored foods from french fries to ice cream, for the more adventurous foodies. The Gilroy Garlic Festival will be happening the last weekend of July this year.
The bulbous root of the plant is what gets used, and can grow well in many regions of the world. California happens to be one of the largest producers of garlic for the US. Growing garlic for personal cooking purposes is a long process, so buying it would be better for regular use.
To get the benefits of garlic, the best way to prepare it is to keep it raw or as close to raw as possible because the nutrition can be cooked out when it's heated too much. This is unfortunate for those how dislike the smell of garlic, because the allicin causing the scent actually provides nutrients.
There are studies about the benefits of garlic with promising results. The herb has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antioxidant qualities. It is high in manganese, phosphorus, vitamin B6, Vitamin C and selenium.
There are also side effects of garlic. It is a blood thinner so it should not be over done for those who take blood thinners or are going into surgery. It should not be mixed with immunity boosting medication, or used by people with ulcers and thyroid issues. Anyone with these conditions should seek professional medical advice before adding garlic to their diet.
For the rest of the garlic fanatics, the known nutritional values of this plant are only growing time. Reap these benefits by adding it to meals and learn to love that distinctive smell.