The botanical name for garlic is allium sativum. Garlic is a perennial that originally came from central Asia, but now can be found growing throughout the world. It can grow 2 feet high or more.
Garlic is a member of the Lily family and is a cousin to onions, leeks and chives. Garlic is arranged in a head, called a “bulb,” which averages about 2 inches in height and diameter and consists of numerous small separate cloves. Both the cloves and the entire bulb are encased in paper-like sheathes that can be white, off-white, or have a pink/purple hue. Although garlic cloves have a firm texture, they can be easily cut or crushed. Elephant garlic has larger cloves and is more closely related to the leek and as such it does not carry the full health benefits of regular garlic.
Garlic is rich in antioxidants, which help destroy free radicals and may even reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause over time.
Garlic also contains some B complex vitamins and selenium, which are important for many chemical reactions in your body. Selenium is a mineral that works like an antioxidant. Garlic is also very low in calories — one clove has only 4 calories.
Garlic is used to help lower cholesterol, fight heart disease, help prevent certain cancers and treat the common cold, among other things.