In Latin countries, garlic is the king
of herbs, used to flavour many dishes.
Garlic was worshiped by the ancient egyptians, chewed
by Greek olympic athletes for its invigorating qualities, and has
even been thought to keep vampires at bay!
Belonging to the lily family - Allium - its
relatives are onions, shallots and leeks. It is the bulb of the
plant which is used for cooking and medicinal purposes. A compound
bulb is formed from many small bulbs, which grow together in a
cluster. When planted, each individual garlic clove forms a new
head of garlic.
Thought to have originated in central
Asia, garlic has been known and cultivated in China from time
immemorial, and according to Heroditus, was widely used by the
ancient Egyptians, being particularly popular with the
The Israelites complained to Moses while in the
desert, "We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely, and
the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and
From Egypt it was introduced to the Greeks and
Romans. Alexander the Great fed garlic to his troops, believing it
to increase their strength and vitality.
Like onions, garlic has been cultivated widely since
the 15th Century.
Although relatively small amounts of
garlic are used in cooking, it has great medicinal value.
Studies have shown that fresh garlic lowers
cholesterol and triglycerides, which promotes cardiovascular health
by helping to prevent blood clotting and therefore heart attacks
Garlic can stop the growth of microbes more
effectively than some potent antibiotics.
Garlic is thought to amplify the antioxidant activity
in our bodies, which promotes health and protects against cancer,
degenerative disease as well as cardiovascular disease.
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Bianchini, F; Corbetta, F; et al.
The Complete Book of Fruits and Vegetables
[English Translation] (New York: Crown, 1976)
Francis, C. The Complete
Onion [Australian Edition] (Sydney: William Collins: