Garlic is one of the world’s favorite flavors and, despite its potential for bad breath, it makes its way into most savory recipes. This herb is not only delicious but good for you as well. Garlic contains gut-healthy prebiotic fibers and an enzyme called alliinase, which has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties, but how you cook it determines how much of these benefits you reap.
Gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, MD explains to Well+Good that alliinase converts alliin in garlic into a compound called allicin, which is what provides these great health properties. However, in order to reap all of garlic’s goodness, you should let it sit for ten minutes after chopping before cooking. According to Bulsiewicz, this is the amount of time needed for the alliinase to activate and convert the alliin to allicin.
On top of being an antiviral and antibacterial force, garlic is also high in B vitamins, vitamins C, E, and K, zinc, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and sodium. Pairing it with other allium vegetables like onions, leeks, shallots, or scallions also enhances zinc and iron bioavailability.
Garlic is good for you, but being strategic about how you prep and include it in recipes can make it even more powerful. Use these tips to get the most out of this flavorful ingredient in your next recipe!
Additional sources: National Library of Medicine – Allicin: Chemistry and Biological Properties