Garlic does more than just make food taste great, it also has wonderful health benefits. Garlic can improve digestive function, boost immunity, help fight infections, and may even play a part in preventing blood clots and cancer. The key ingredient that makes garlic so special is a chemical called Allicin. Allicin gives garlic its telltale smell as well as antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties. With all that goodness packed into every clove you certainly don’t want to skimp on garlic!
Allicin is tricky stuff, though, as it is only activated when the garlic is crushed (or chewed) raw and it doesn’t last long before it starts to break down. So if you want the full spectrum of benefits your best bet is to cook with fresh garlic (not powdered or minced in a jar) and to crush it before dicing, chopping, or cooking it. If you want ideas for recipes other than Italian there are some great ones on the Whole Foods blog.
And for battling the garlic breath that is sure to follow the best remedy is to chew on a sprig of fresh parsley (perhaps after enjoying it as garnish on your plate), and of course brush your teeth and floss to get rid of any residue.
(Photo courtesy of Ale Paiva on stock.xchng)