Can you eat garlic leaves? (+3 health benefits)
In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat garlic leaves?”. We will also discuss what are the benefits and risks of eating garlic leaves, how you can safely eat them, and when garlic leaves are not safe to consume.
Can you eat garlic leaves?
Yes, you can eat garlic leaves. You can eat garlic leaves in the same way you use other bulbous vegetables like onions or shallot. Additionally, garlic leaves contain nutrients and biological elements good for your health (1).
What are the benefits of eating garlic leaves?
According to studies, garlic leaves have a chemical composition similar to onion and shallot leaves. They contain considerable quantities of minerals salts, chlorophyll sugars, and carotenoids of L-ascorbic acid and dietary fibers (1).
Garlic leaves also contain allicin, one of the major organosulfur compounds in garlic, which is associated with various health benefits, including, potential antimicrobial, anticancer, antioxidant, improving immune function and reducing cardiovascular diseases (2,10).
Some activities of garlic leaves described in scientific studies include antifungal, the potential to improve obesity conditions by decreasing the expression of genes related to adipogenesis and lipogenesis (3,4).
What are the risks of eating garlic leaves?
Eating garlic leaves is usually safe and nutritious, but there are a few potential risks to be aware of. Some people may be allergic to Allium plants. Also, consuming too many garlic leaves may cause digestive issues (5).
You should also keep in mind the possibility of phytopathogenic contamination, such as grey mold caused by Botrytis, especially under long-term cold storage or conditions of high humidity (6).
The risk of pesticide contamination in garlic leaves is something to take into account since pesticide residues can be present during their growth (7).
Are garlic leaves better than garlic bulbs?
Garlic leaves and garlic bulbs offer distinct nutritional properties and flavor intensities. Garlic leaves are rich in source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin K, and calcium, and a lower in calories them garlic bulbs. As we mentioned before, they also have allicin which has potential health benefits (1,2).
However, if you compare the flavor intensity of garlic leaves and garlic bulbs, the leaves have a milder and more delicate flavor (9).
On the other hand, garlic bulbs are renowned for their robust, pungent flavor, which arises from a higher allicin content. Additionally, the bulbs contain a higher content of carbohydrates, including natural sugars, resulting in a slightly higher caloric content (9).
Overall, the choice between eating garlic leaves or bulbs depends on your desired flavor profile and specific nutritional value requirements. Garlic leaves emphasize certain vitamins and minerals, and garlic bulbs deliver a more potent garlic sense and higher allicin content.
How can you safely eat garlic leaves?
To safely eat garlic leaves, first wash them under running water to remove any dirt or pesticide residues. As we mentioned before, you can use garlic leaves in the same way you do with other bulbous vegetables like onions (1).
Garlic leaves can be used fresh in salads, or you can add them to soups or when you prepare other dishes.
If you wish to cook garlic leaves, keep in mind that the cooking process may affect their nutritional content, but this will depend on how long you cook the leaves. Mild cooking methods such as blanching or steaming for a short period may generally retain more of the nutritional value of the leaves, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, prolonged or high cooking can lead to nutrient loss, particularly to heat-sensitive compounds like vitamin C (8).
When are garlic leaves not safe to consume?
Garlic leaves are typically safe to consume, however, they can be unsafe if they exhibit signs of spoilage or contamination.
If garlic leaves develop a slimy or mushy texture, unusual discoloration, a foul odor, or visible mold growth, they should be discarded, as these are indicators of spoilage or bacterial and fungal contamination (6,11).
Additionally, if garlic leaves have been stored improperly, such as at room temperature or in a moist environment, they may become unsafe to eat due to the rapid growth of harmful microorganisms (12).
Common fungi problems found when storing garlic are grey mold caused by Botrytis, and Penicillium rots. Among the bacteria rots, Erwinia spp. and Pseudomonas spp. are included (6,13).
It is advisable to discard garlic leaves or any food with signs of spoilage because ingesting spoiled food can lead to foodborne illness, allergic reactions or worse symptoms caused by the production of mycotoxins (14,15).
In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat garlic leaves?”. We also discussed what are the benefits and risks of eating garlic leaves, how you can safely eat them, and when garlic leaves are not safe to consume.
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