Garlic: Everything you need to know

Garlic bulbs piled on top of each other covering the whole image

Garlic is a great ingredient for adding flavour to a dish. Find out more about it's nutritional qualities and health benefits. Get tips on where and when to buy garlic.

The basics

Garlic is a species of bulbous flowering plant in the same family as onions. It was originally found in Central Asia but is now grown and used worldwide. It’s most commonly used as a flavouring, for example in sauces or stews, but it can also be roasted or even eaten raw.

Garlic’s nutritional qualities

Garlic is normally used in very small quantities so you don’t need to worry about it if you’re counting carbs or calories. In fact it’s a great way to add flavour to a dish if you’re dieting. One clove of garlic contains on average just 4 calories, 0g protein, 0g Fat, 1g carbohydrate and 0.06g Fibre.

Is garlic good for you?

Garlic has been linked to a lot of health benefits from being used to fight the common cold to reducing blood pressure, although the evidence is not conclusive.

What is clear is that while garlic is low on carbs it still contains a lot of vitamins. Just one clove of garlic will give you 2% of the manganese and Vitamin B6 you need in a day and 1% of your vitamin C and selenium. It also contains calcium, iron and vitamin B1. Plus it’s easy to include in your diet and tastes absolutely delicious!

When to avoid garlic

Other than the risk of bad breath, garlic is also high in FODMAPs which can irritate the intestine for some people. If you are on a low FODMAP diet garlic is one of the foods you will be asked to avoid, along with related ingredients such as onions and leeks. If you suffer from IBS you may want to try cutting garlic out.

Can I eat garlic raw?

Yes, garlic is completely safe to eat raw, although be aware that it will have a much more potent flavour than cooked garlic. Some people also claim raw garlic has added health benefits such as reducing cholesterol and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

For an easy addition, we recommend crushing raw garlic with some herbs into butter for a delicious topping to meat or fish.

Is garlic in season?

Garlic is grown year round in mild climates. In colder climates it is harvested in late spring or early summer.

How to buy and store garlic

You will find garlic in nearly every supermarket or food store. When shopping choose bulbs that are tight and firm, as these will last longer. Don’t get sucked in by the largest bulbs! You can store garlic in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months. However once you start a bulb, try and use all the cloves within 2 weeks.

Can I use bulbs that have started sprouting?

Yes, bulbs with green shoots are still safe to eat. Although, the spout itself can taste slightly bitter so you may want to cut it off.

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