Chances are You’ve Been Eating Garlic Wrong
Garlic fascinates me. It was found in the Egyptian pyramids and ancient Greek temples and even referenced in the Bible. Slaves in Egypt were fed garlic and other onion-family vegetables to give them strength and increase their productivity. I imagine, if you want someone to work harder for you, you feed them foods that make them stronger.
Olympic athletes in Greece were known to eat garlic too to help them perform. And Hippocrates prescribed it for many medical conditions. Garlic is possibly the oldest “performance enhancing” food we eat today.
Where are Garlic’s Super Powers
Most of what we know scientifically about garlic’s super powers are from the sulfur compound called allicin, which is also responsible for the garlic’s nose turning smell. Oddly, this allicin is hidden in the cells of garlic. It needs to be released.
What I mean is when fresh garlic is chopped or crushed, an enzyme called alliinase converts alliin into allicin. This allicin is responsible for the aroma of fresh garlic and the benefits associated with consuming it. So garlic by itself, until it is crushed, or chopped, is not super powerful.
What’s the Big Deal?
Think words like plaque, blood cholesterol, cancer tumors, inflammation, colds, and blood pressure. Garlic helps all these health conditions. No, garlic is not a one-pill wonder, but it has a lot of stand out benefits. Here are some:
- Reduces blood pressure
- Lowers bad cholesterol
- Reduces osteoarthritis
- Immune booster (great for helping reduce colds and flu)
- Stops cancer cell growth (especially for brain, lung, colon, breast, gastric, and pancreatic)
We don’t know how all these benefits work with garlic. Medical experts are still uncovering the answers behind exactly how the beneficial compounds work. Researchers are even finding new ways to measure the power of garlic in the body. Some tests have shown within three hours of eating garlic cancer and immunity markers at the gene level are much better.
And no, it isn’t a cure for cancer, but it definitely changes how your body fights it.
What’s the Catch?
In order to get the most of this super power allicin forming in garlic, you want to let it set 10 – 15 minutes after pressing it. The catchy phrase for this is “press, then rest.” Also, high heat can destroy some of this work you did by letting the garlic rest.
You lose 90 percent of the cancer-fighting ability in just microwaving 60 seconds without any resting period or in as little as 2 minutes of sautéing without resting. So make sure when you are preparing dishes you “press, then rest.”
All of my recipes have instructions calling for you to press, then let the garlic rest for 10 minutes. Take time to redo your recipes so you have the rest time.
How Much Garlic?
Since we are still figuring out what is going on in the body, we can’t say for sure an exact amount you should eat. I recommend between ½ clove to 2 cloves a day or garlic pressed and then let rest, then eat either raw or in a dish. And “no” to any supplement. Research does not support this.
Raw is definitely going to give you more of the allicin, but lets be realistic. Two cloves of raw garlic is not happening for me any time in the near future. I would not ask you to do that either.
Instead, focus on pressing and resting and adding your garlic if possible at the end of cooking or heating so you can retain the most of the garlic’s super power allicin.
Allicin stays in tact for only 2 1/2 days after it is crushed. This is why jar, processed minced garlic or powder loses most of its health benefit by the time you use it. In this case, fresh pressed garlic is best.
I typically double the garlic called for in recipes. Garlic has intense great flavor and I want as much fighting power from the garlic as possible.
I will add a minced clove to my salad dressing just before I pour over my salad. Try this even if you are using store bought dressing. Just pour out a tablespoon or two into a small dish and stir in raw garlic. Then top your salad with it.
This neat little trick of adding garlic to store-bought can be done with marinara sauce, pasta, guacamole and endless other dishes. If you can, add it at the end of cooking to retain as much as possible of the health properties.
My two all time favorite dishes are bruschetta and pesto, both are brimming with raw garlic. Just like the salad dressing trick, if these dishes have sat in the refrigerator for a couple days, I will grab a clove of garlic and “press, then rest” before eating. This is an easy way to add in some fresh zing to the dish, super powered allicin and then eat it up.
What are you having for dinner tonight? Can you add in some garlic? If so, be sure to “press, then rest” first.
Medical Disclaimer: If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood thinning medications, talk to your doctor before increasing your garlic, even raw garlic. Garlic has blood thinning properties and you may need you medication adjusted.