Garlic is considered to be of medicinal value by a number of communities around the world. It is also considered as one of the ingredients that adds great flavor to food. Garlic belongs to the biological family of onions and has not a very far off taste from onion. If you prefer savory foods to sweet ones, then garlic is likely to be one of the spices that you want to add to your food.
However, the part of the garlic that is more commonly used is the tuber. The garlic bulb has cloves that may be grated, blended or ground as an additive to flavor food. Garlic leaves are rarely used, but they have great health benefits.
So yes, they can be eaten – either cooked or raw. When eaten raw, garlic leaves have a stinging bitter taste but when cooked they have a mild taste of the garlic pellets. There are two types of garlic that are a grown: the hard neck and soft neck garlic. Both possess leaves that are healthy for human consumption. Garlic leaves when taken in excess may also pose a risk to the body.
Nutritional Benefits of Garlic Leaves
Garlic leaves carries a number of nutrients that are of benefit to the body. An example of these nutrients is; iron, sodium, zinc, calcium, vitamin C and other nutrients. Adding either leaves from Allium Sativa or Allium alphoscodoron, a type of garlic, to your diet will greatly boost your health. It has a number of benefits. The nutrients that are of value in the garlic leaves include:
- Vitamin C Garlic is rich in Vitamin C.A lack of vitamin C can predispose an individual to scurvy. This is a life threatening disease that causes bruises on the skin as well as the gums. Its severity can also lead to loss of teeth. Vitamin C also aids the body with antioxidants.
- Antioxidants are a component of foods that help to protect an individual from the chemical process of polymerization that leads to the production of free radicals in the body. They help to protect an individual from the risk of heart related diseases as well as different cancers. Garlic leaves therefore see to it that you are protected from potential chronic diseases. With antioxidants, you may also benefit from how they serve to add a glow to the skin.
- Vitamin B6.One of the main components of garlic leaves is Vitamin B6.This vitamin plays a role in preventing nausea that is common during pregnancy. It also helps to deal with some premenstrual symptoms.
- Garlic leaves contain phosphorus which plays an important role in the building and strengthening of bones and teeth.
- This plays a role in the repair of wounds in the body. It heals tissue that has been damaged in the body.
- This is an important nutrient that plays a role in the building of the proteins that are important in the repair of DNA.
Potential Risk Associated With Eating Garlic Leaves
It is said that too much of something is poisonous. Garlic leaves when taken in excess may therefore pose a risk to health. Some of the risks associated with garlic leaves include:
- Bad breath. Consumption of garlic leaves is associated with an oral condition that is known as halitosis. It causes an individual to have an odor coming from the mouth because of the coating of sulfur that is left on the teeth.
- Gastrointestinal problems. An excess use of garlic leaves may cause gut problems like heartburn, which poses a risk for stomach ulcers if used on a long term basis. Garlic may also cause damage to the mucus lining of the gut, which is important for digestion.
- Body odor. When the sulphur component of garlic is absorbed by the blood, it may affect the smell of different excretions like sweat and saliva, causing an odor.
- Excessive bleeding. Garlic possesses an anti-platelet effect. When taken in excess, it may inhibit the quick clotting of blood in the event of a surgical procedure, hence leading to excessive bleeding.
- Lowering of blood pressure. While it plays a great role in lowering the pressure of blood in hypertensive patients due to its component, it may also lower it more than what is needed for the systolic and diastolic rhythm.
How To Identify, Prepare and Consume Garlic Leaves Safely
A number of factors go into deciding what garlic leaves to pick for consumption. Some of the characteristics that are important to look at when selecting the leaves that are the best for consumption are:
- The leaves should have an aroma almost similar to the one that is in the garlic bulbs.
- Garlic leaves that are safe for consumption are bright green and appear pointed and may have tendrils. They also have white flowers that are divided into six on a single flower head.
- The presence of a garlic bulb is also important in identifying a garlic plant to harvest leaves from.
Before picking the garlic leaves, it is important to avoid a number of things that may pose a health risk. For example, picking it by the roadside where it may have been exposed to activities that degrade its quality. It is also important to look for garlic leaves that may have been infested by worms and other parasites. These may have had their nutrient stores depleted.
Garlic leaves can be consumed in different ways. You can choose to eat them as food, or boil them in water and take them hot as tea. It can also be consumed raw.
When cooking, you may need to steam briefly for around 30 to 60 seconds. You can then eat them alongside your carbohydrates. Like other green leafy vegetables, the leaves may tend to shrink. Cooking for too long may make the meal lose its flavor.
If you prefer taking it as a tea, you can dip it in boiling water, then cover to allow the taste to blend in, then you can add sweeteners to enhance the taste.
How To Pick Garlic Leaves
To allow a continuation of growth of the garlic, avoid harvesting it by the roots. Using your fingers or foraging scissors, pluck the leaf at the stem.
Tips for including garlic leaves in a balanced diet
There are a number of ways to ensure that garlic leaves are not missing from your balanced diet. You could choose to have it as a seasoning spice or as cooking oil.
As a seasoning spice, the garlic leaves can be ground into a powder or small dried pieces and added while cooking or marinating different kinds of meat. It adds flavor to food and can be an alternative to the garlic clove.
It can also be added to your diet as an extracted oil that is used to fry the ingredients of the food. This will ensure you enjoy the subtle flavor of the garlic as well as get to enjoy the nutritional benefits that come with the consumption of garlic leaves.
Garlic leaves will also serve to suppress your appetite. They often give a false feeling of fullness, allowing you to reduce your food portions. This aids in weight loss.
If you are looking for a naturally occurring nutrient source that will boost your health or aid your weight loss, adding garlic leaves to your diet is worth consideration.