6 Surprising Benefits of Green Garlic

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

If you work with vegetables, then you know that green garlic is not only an early sign of spring blossoms but also a delicious addition to a nutritious diet.

What is Green Garlic?

Green garlic is an immature garlic plant, which is harvested before it grows into the well-known mature bulb. This plant has a leafy stalk and flowers, which signify that it is ready to be picked, despite the bulb not fully formed. The immature bulb resembles a scallion in size and appearance and is even prepared the same way in meals. Many people use green garlic as an early-season substitute for garlic, as it has the flavor of garlic, without much of the spiciness. [1]

People also seek out green garlic because it basically has the same nutritional makeup of traditional garlic. Garlic is known to be packed with nutrients that can complete your diet and is also a versatile spice that adds a special kick to different meals. Since this vegetable is only available for a few weeks each year, it is important to harvest and enjoy eating it whenever you can!

Nutritional Value of Green Garlic

This particular type of garlic has a modest amount of vitamin C, phosphorous, manganese and B vitamins, as well as calcium, zinc, and iron in smaller amounts. The significant and noteworthy element of garlic is its active ingredient, allicin. Converted from the enzyme alliinase, allicin is a powerful antioxidant that affects the body in numerous ways. Garlic also offers a low amount of calories, at only 5 calories per stalk, and provides other sulfuric compounds and organic acids that benefit the body. [2]

Man clutching his stomach

Stomach aches can worsen quickly if not addressed. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Health Benefits of Green Garlic

The most impressive health benefits of green garlic include its ability to strengthen the immune system, stimulate circulation, protect heart health and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, among others.

May Boost Immune System

Like its more mature form, spring garlic has natural antibiotic properties that make it an ideal booster for the immune system. If you are struggling with a cold or infection, give your body a bit more defense by sprinkling some green garlic into your next salad. The vitamin C content will stimulate the production of white blood cells. [3]

May Aid in Digestion

The potentially anti-inflammatory abilities of garlic can help to soothe any irritation of inflammation in the gut, thereby helping to speed digestion and eliminate discomfort. Garlic’s antioxidant and antibiotic properties also ensure that you have a proper bacterial balance in the stomach. [4]

May Improve Circulation

Vitamin C in garlic makes it easier to uptake iron, which also has amazingly high levels of iron and other minerals, making this herb excellent for boosting circulation. Better red blood cell production means more oxygenation of the body and faster delivery of essential nutrients to every system. [5]

May Protect Heart

Research published in the Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London has shown that allicin, the active ingredient in garlic and green garlic, is able to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and elevate HDL (good) cholesterol levels. In addition, it can help lower blood pressure, which reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke. [6]

May Have Anticancer Potential

Garlic’s active ingredient, allicin has also been looked at in relation to its effect on cancer cells. As a powerful antioxidant, allicin is able to help alleviate the oxidative stress in your body and minimize your risk of cellular mutation and cancerous development, says J. A. Milner, Nutrition Department, The Pennsylvania State University, USA, in a report published in the Journal of Nutrition. This applies not only to cancer prevention but also to other chronic diseases caused by free radical activity. [7]

May Help Detoxify the Body

As a potential diuretic, green garlic can help to flush out the kidneys and clean the blood more effectively in the liver, improving overall health.

How to Select and Store Green Garlic?

Before cooking with green garlic, you need to know how to choose a proper plant from the store. They look quite a bit like green onions but the smell of garlic is unmistakable, yet mild. The leaves will be flat and dark green in color, unlike scallions, and the base bulb (small) should be white, with purple or dark red streaking above it. There should be no wilting. This is the perfect time to cook with this spring spice.

Since green garlic only appears for a few weeks each year, many people harvest a larger amount and store some for later use. To store green garlic, wrap it in a damp paper towel and place it in a plastic bag, then store that bag in the fridge. This keeps green garlic fresh and flavorful for at least a week. It’s better to start harvesting green garlic a bit early so that you can enjoy fresh green garlic for as long as a month or two.

Culinary Uses of Green Garlic

When cooking with green garlic, many parts of the plant are used. You can chop the stems, leaves, and even the immature white bulb, which can eventually be separated into cloves. The most popular culinary uses of green garlic are in salads, soups or stir-fries. You don’t need to peel immature spring garlic bulbs but roots are to be removed before cooking. Cutting up the leaves and stalk also makes for an ideal pizza topping.

The most important thing to remember when using this fresh plant as an herb is that its flavor is quite mild, unlike traditional garlic. In other words, you will need to use an entire stalk of green garlic to replace a single clove of garlic. This mild herb is simply not as potent as its more mature form. That being said, many people love cooking with this flavorful and time-sensitive herb.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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