Ready for some fun facts about garlic? From why it’s so good for you to the myth around horrible garlic breath, these are the ultimate garlic facts!
It’s no secret that garlic is one of the most widely used foods in the kitchen. Just about every culture in the world uses it to add flavor to dishes. And let’s be honest, it’s delicious, isn’t it?
We bet you there are so many fun facts about garlic that you didn’t know about. For example, did you know that garlic is actually a flower? In particular, garlic is a bulbous, flowering plant belonging to the lily family. There’s quite a difference between a bunch of garlic and a bunch of lilies though.
But garlic is a superfood known to have MANY health benefits. Like supporting your blood. Being an antioxidant. Fighting cancer. Deterring the common cold. And the list goes on…
Everyone who has eaten garlic knows it has a very particular smell. This odor comes from an enzyme that triggers the creation of sulfur, making that very distinct and pungent smell that sticks to your hands for hours.
People from slaves to nobles to Greek gods have used and enjoyed garlic for centuries. In fact, historians estimate garlic has been utilized for 8,000 years!
So, sit back, grab a garlicky snack, and enjoy this list full of garlic facts. Who knows, it might inspire you to start using garlic in new and creative ways!
20 Fun Facts About Garlic
1. Garlic is a flower
For centuries, people have been confused about what garlic actually is. Is it an herb? Or maybe a spice? In actuality, it is a member of the lily family.
Garlic is a bulb that just so happens to be the root of an interesting flower – it’s lucky for us that it’s so flavorful!
2. Garlic is SUPER good for you
In fact, doctors consider garlic to be a superfood. This bulb has an incredible amount of health properties. It is an anti-coagulant, antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial.
Garlic also helps lower bad cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, and has cancer-fighting properties. If you feel like you might be getting sick, eat some garlic.
It can help fight off the common cold, as well. Talk about small but mighty!
3. There are many kinds
When you walk into a grocery store, you might see a few different kinds of garlic. Some are white, some are purple, and some are huge. However, there are actually more than 450 types of garlic in the world, and not all of them are used in food.
4. Garlic contains many nutrients
Beyond being a superfood with a ton of health properties, garlic is also full of vitamins and minerals.
Garlic contains copper, iron, magnesium, germanium, zinc, and selenium. It also has vitamins C and B, along with fiber and amino acids.
5. Even more health benefits
In case you needed more evidence of how good garlic is for you, it once had the nickname “Russian penicillin.”
The garlic fact comes from when doctors and medics gave it to soldiers in World War II when they got sick, and medicine was scarce. Garlic also acts as a blood thinner, similar to aspirin.
6. Garlic needs bees
The garlic that we eat is usually just the root of the plant. Growing from the bulb is a stalk with a flower on top. The flowers are usually green, white, or pink.
A fun fact about garlic is that the flowers are hermaphrodites, meaning they contain both male and female reproductive organs. But, in order to properly pollinate garlic, bees and other insects must travel from flower to flower.
7. Garlic has been used for a long time
While historians don’t know exactly when garlic was cultivated for human consumption, we do know the ancient Egyptians used it in their food. So, people have used garlic to flavor dishes for thousands of years!
Some experts put this number at up to 8,000 years. This makes it one of the oldest herbs in existence. How cool is that!?
8. Keep a lemon on hand
If you are going on a date and worried about garlic breath, be sure to order water with lemon. The acidic fruit helps stop bad breath.
And as an added bonus, lemon and garlic work together to increase the other’s health benefits! So your breath smells good, and your body gets a powerful boost.
9. Garlic was a favorite among Greek gods
In ancient times, Greeks were constantly looking for ways to find favor with the gods. Hecate was the goddess of wilderness and childbirth, and apparently had a thing for garlic.
Historians have found that ancient Greeks would leave garlic at crossroads as an offering to Hecate to find favor with her.
10. Garlic is so much more than just the bulb
The part of the plant most people use is the bulb, which is the root that grows underground at the base of the plant. But, the stalk that grows from the bulb can reach up to 4 feet tall!
There is usually a unique and beautiful flower at the top. The entire plant is edible, and some parts of the world think of the certain types of flowers as delicacies.
11. It’s low maintenance
Garlic is a fairly easy food to keep around. Food experts recommend keeping garlic unpeeled in a cool, dry place that is dark. You should also keep it away from other foods. If stored correctly, garlic should last for months.
12. It can help with childbirth
In many cultures, birthing mothers rely on garlic to ease the delivery and protect both mom and baby from evil spirits. Oftentimes, families would place garlic in rooms where babies would be delivered, hoping to ensure a safe and healthy birth.
13. It might have supernatural powers
We have all heard of the myth that garlic deters vampires. Bram Stoker solidified this legend in Dracula in 1897. Van Helsing used garlic flowers to protect Lucy Westenra.
In the story, Dracula says garlic removes his power. Because of these associations, people believe garlic can keep away evil spirits, including vampires.
14. Not all garlic is created equal
While all garlic is healthy for you, not every head of garlic packs the same punch. Polysulphide allicin is the component that provides most of the medicinal benefits. The amount of this compound is dependent on the soil it grows in. Chinese garlic has the most allicin.
15. It’s a bit smelly
If you have ever cut up garlic, then you might have noticed the smell lingers on your fingers. When you cut or crush garlic, it releases an enzyme that is responsible for this strong smell. These enzymes trigger the creation of sulfur, which is the pungent smell you notice from garlic.
16. People have understood for a LONG time how healthy garlic is
It’s not a new discovery that garlic has exceptional health benefits. Historians have found that Greek and Roman athletes and soldiers alike relied on garlic before games and battles to increase their strength and stamina, and for courage. The Odyssey by Homer even talks of garlic.
17. Garlic grows really well in certain regions
Garlic can be grown in many places, but there are particular regions where it grows really well. In America, more than 90% of garlic grows in California. But garlic is actually native to central Asia, most likely Iran.
18. The Egyptians were likely the first to use garlic
History has shown us that the ancient Egyptians were the first to use garlic in their diet. In the 3000-2000 BC era, Egyptian nobles used garlic regularly. And beyond that, garlic was medicinal and used in religious rituals.
In fact, many slaves relied on this plant for extra strength and stamina to complete their work.
19. Garlic is biblical
Well, maybe not biblical. But garlic is mentioned in the Bible several different times. One of the most interesting times is when the Hebrews were escaping Egypt and ended up wandering in the desert for 40 years.
Among the many complaints Moses heard was the Hebrews longing for home comforts, like garlic. People have known for a long time how delicious garlic is.
20. Keep garlic away from pets
As healthy as garlic is for humans, it’s quite dangerous for our furry household friends. Garlic, along with onion, is toxic to both cats and dogs. Be careful feeding your pets leftovers or letting them lick your plate.
Garlic facts are not only interesting, but they are delicious, as well. Which fun fact about garlic was your favorite?