How well do you really know garlic? The truth is that there are hundreds of unknown but amazing facts about garlic, its effects, uses, and past origins.
Garlic is primarily a food item that amplifies the flavor of any dish regardless of what quantity you use.
The demanding taste requirements of people around the world have even led to a multi-million dollar garlic market that accounts for major exports and imports.
Most people consider garlic to provide some form of immunity and hence it is common in every local market.
Read these 16 amazing facts about garlic that may startle you.
1. Garlic is a Perennial Crop
Garlic rarely gets credit for being a perennial crop. Perennial means that a crop will continue to grow and bear produce for a duration of more than one year. This means that next time you forget to harvest garlic, they will sprout up the following year by themselves and you can harvest them again.
This happens if a few of the healthy garlic bulbs are left behind. So, you can enjoy garlic for a duration of two years while most other crops give a single harvest and require yearly planting.
2. Is Garlic a Vegetable or a Spice or Both?
Garlic finds itself a unique position in the classification of edible plants. Its properties make it eligible for being both a root vegetable as well as a food spice due to its influential taste-making potential.
Garlic is part of the Allium genus which also includes onions, leeks, and shallots, all known as root vegetables. There are around 450 varieties of garlic around the world, and this number could increase in the future.
This status of garlic makes it an important vegetable and spice that serves its purpose well. And we have not even counted the numerous health benefits.
3. Garlic Contains an Antimicrobial Ingredient
Garlic is almost like an antibiotic itself, it wards off infections caused by bacteria and fungi. This health perk is due to the special antimicrobial ingredient – allicin, a Sulphur-rich compound present in freshly-cut garlic cloves. This compound helps you protect against most of the microbes.
No wonder why many cultures have found a way to incorporate garlic into their cuisines and lifestyles!
Hippocrates advocated garlic as a laxative and a diuretic, and Aristophanes and Galenal suggested garlic for the treatment of uterine tumors.NCBI
4. Garlic is Quite Healthy!
It is no secret garlic is rich in antioxidants and allicin, both of which have several health benefits. It can also lend a helping hand to many people struggling with heart ailments among many other illnesses.
The root of garlic is rich in amino acids that help to manage several diseases like high cholesterol, cold, cough, heart diseases, etc. Garlic also contains numerous nutrients that the body needs to function at an optimum level.
These nutrients include Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, Potassium, Calcium, Selenium, and Vitamin C to name a few.
5. Need a Natural Pesticide? Garlic is the Answer
Buying pesticides may be expensive and there is always a question of whether it will work or not. Further, there could be side effects. Thankfully, there is an alternative.
Crushed garlic placed in some water can become a highly effective pesticide, I bet you didn’t know that!
When it comes to insect pests, this solution of crushed garlic and water acts as a cheap, reliable, and non-chemical-based pesticide.
It works for all plants and can keep away insects such as Aphids, Japanese Beetles, Termites, Slugs, Armyworms, etc.
6. Bad smell of Garlic – Here is an easy tip!
Many people love the taste of garlic but cannot stand the awful ever-lasting smell on their hands. Well, there is a trick to get this smell off your hands without washing them hundreds of times or waiting for days to pass!
Simply, get a stainless steel dish and rub your hands on the dish under a stream of cold water for about 30 seconds. Then wash your hands with soap and cold water. This method helps as the sulfur compounds causing the smell in the garlic bind with molecules in stainless steel, removing the smell from your hands.
7. Heard of Garlic Glue
Yes, you heard right!
Garlic plants have a sticky secretion arising from the cloves when you crush them. This sticky juice can double up as an adhesive for delicate objects such as glass and pottery. This is helpful for mending pottery items and kitchenware that have missing or broken-off pieces.
Of course, this ‘garlic glue’ will not hold up for large jobs, but it might be useful in cases where desperate measures count! That is if you can stomach the intrusive garlicky smell that accompanies this miracle glue.
8. The Origins of “Garlic”
Despite the fact that garlic is thought to be Asian in descent, the word ‘Garlic’ actually originates from the Anglo-Saxon Era. In their language, the word “gar” means ‘spear’ while “lac” means ‘plant’. This goes according to the fact that typical garlic plant leaves appear to resemble a spearhead.
There is ample proof that garlic was even around in the New Stone Age at around 7000 B.C! This makes garlic one of the oldest food flavorings and cultured vegetables existing even today.
9. National Garlic Day
Garlic is such a popular vegetable that it is almost present in every cuisine on the planet! Due to its fame, every year April 19th is celebrated as National Garlic Day in the USA.
From restaurants to home-cooked meals, garlic plays an important role. Its application does not stop there, garlic is a vegetable that also influences the economic market for agricultural produce. Although North America is not a major garlic exporter, they sure do cultivate and consume a lot of garlic!
10. Garlic a.k.a “Russian Penicillin”
During World War II garlic inherited a new purpose and a new nickname. Penicillin was mainly used to treat wounds during this wartime. But, eventually, the Penicillin ran out but the number of wounds was still going up.
As a last resort, the Russian army decided to use crushed garlic as a substitute for any other form of anti-bacterial medicine. Thus, granting garlic with the name “Russian Penicillin”, a respite in those difficult times.
11. Myths About Garlic
Garlic was in older times thought to be a holy substance that could ward off unholy and evil beings. Myths say that garlic would keep vampires away and keep you safe from those blood-thirsty demons.
Many movies portray garlic as being on par with holy water! Superstitious people would commonly wear necklaces made of garlic. Some people would even go as far as rubbing this pungent root on their bodies to obtain the distinct smell and protect themselves.
12. Some Religions Shun Garlic as ‘Unholy’
Garlic does not receive accolades from every religion. In Islam, it is forbidden to eat garlic and then enter a mosque. Buddhists believe that garlic induces aggressive behavior and carnal desires, all of which are prohibited by monks.
In Jainism, the same thoughts follow. This is why many Jains do not eat garlic or other root vegetables in the same family as garlic. This includes onions and ginger which are thought to have similar effects.
13. Garlic – Guinness World Record!
The current holder for eating the most garlic cloves in one minute goes to Patrick Bertoletti from Illinois, USA. He holds the record for eating an astounding 36 cloves of garlic in just a minute! This record was set on 14 January 2012 and is the current record that is still being held.
The heaviest garlic weighed about 2.10 pounds (1.19kgs) and this record belongs to Robert Kirkpatrick, another American from Eureka, California.
We do believe, these records are bound to be broken in the future someday!
14. Who is the Leading Garlic Producer?
Garlic is everywhere, but where exactly does it come from? Sure most countries produce varying amounts of garlic on their home soil, but the leading producer in the world is China. China accounts for over 66% (22 million tonnes annually) of all garlic grown, this could be due to the high garlic content in their cuisine.
Second, on the list is India which produces 1.6 million tonnes annually. The USA figures at number 7 on the list with an average of 200 thousand tonnes of garlic per annum.
15. Garlic and Leeches
Apparently, leeches have a high attraction toward garlic. One study shows that a hand with a garlic scent attracts leeches much faster than a hand that lacks any form of garlic on it. The time difference between the two instances reveals how true this fact is.
Hands with garlic on them attract the leeches in a short time of 14.9 seconds! But a hand that is without any garlic components took a longer 44.9 seconds to attract these water creatures. Steer clear of garlic if you plan to enter leech-infested waters!
This just goes to prove there is something about garlic that draws these creatures. At the same time, there are some studies that also show that garlic could be lethal to leeches.
16. Is Garlic a Performance Enhancing Food?
The Egyptians strongly believed that eating garlic would provide you with more strength and allow for higher endurance to perform daily tasks. This is the exact reason why the builders of the Great Pyramids of Giza were fed garlic daily before going to work.
Even the Greeks and Olympic athletes believed in these secret garlic benefits which are why they would eat garlic prior to battles or sporting matches. Some people probably still follow this rule and believe in its positive effects.
These amazing garlic facts should give you more reason to keep more garlic in your household and incorporate it into your diet plans! Next time you prescribe garlic to someone, you will have all these facts to back up your advice.