Now and then I read a tidbit of information that I feel compelled to share with EVERYBODY. Such it is with this little-known (gosh, I think it’s little-known) garlic-related fact.
It is so important, this fact, that it could make the difference between abundant health for you and your family, or debilitating disease. Sorry if that sounds grim. But it’s true. I’m not just trying to get your attention. But I hope that I’ve got it. 🙂
Furthermore, I’m trying to decide right now, my Gentle Reader, how long I ought to tease you. I’m also wondering suddenly if this life-or-death, crucial-to-health, life-enhancing garlic tidbit is something that everybody already knows.
You remember that I live under a rock. But–glory be!–the dry, warm rock that we have lived under for the past several weeks (so odd in January, to be comfortable and chilblain-free, instead of shivering and miserable, eh?) is now covered with a thick and beautiful covering of snow. (I do love snow, please don’t hate me.) Overnight last night we received a lovely amount of snow, nearly a foot in some places, and the wind that is omnipresent here in Nebraska will surely stir up all that snow during the night, making mischief for the road crews and my good husband, who will, of course, bundle up and go to his job in the city, come morning, hell or high water or, in this case, drifting snow.
This picture was taken two days ago. It was 65° that day. We went for a long walk to the river, and had a picnic. We also saw an awesome deer skeleton (DIBS!).
Do you want to see a picture of the deer skeleton? Oh, all right, although you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was much cooler than this picture shows. You know how I like to draw dead things. You know how much I wanted to wade across that river to fetch that skeleton, don’t you, just so I could drag it home and draw it.
I wasn’t serious, but I mentioned to Amalia that I was almost willing to brave the cold water to wade across and fetch it. She gave me this look. She is getting old enough now that some days she believes she needs to mother her mother. It’s a funny feeling. (Since I’m the mom, Amalia. Still. And yet. And yes, forevermore.)
Bother! On the other hand. The river did look a bit cold, what with those big chunks of ice and whatnot.
So I’m going to tell you that garlic fact, now that we’ve got the merciless teasing and the chat about the weather out of the way. And the story of the deer skeleton. Natch’.
I really like garlic and I use a lot of it in my cooking. You know about my Garlic Piperade Soup, right, a big batch of which uses 80 cloves of garlic? Also, I think my love of homemade kimchi, which contains large handfuls of garlic, is very well-known. Hopefully you use lots of garlic, too, because it’s not only delicious and makes you smell quite Italian when you eat it (I know about this, folks, hey, I’ve been to Italy and have ridden on those crowded buses) but also makes you a healthier person. That is, if you know this secret.
If you don’t know it, you may be doing something when you cook it which will reduce garlic to just a great-tasting flavor enhancer. Garlic does taste pretty awesome, of course. But if you know this secret, eating garlic can enhance your health like crazy, and actually combat many types of cancer and do its blood-thinning trick, as well.
Garlic has been treasured for its medicinal properties for centuries. It’s also one of the most heavily researched plant foods around. Over 170 studies show that it is beneficial to more than 150 different health conditions. Garlic is amazing: it has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and antioxidant properties. It detoxes. It fights inflammation. I’m not lyin’. It probably can scale tall buildings and fight bad guys, too. It’s all that, and more.
Researchers believe that much of garlic’s therapeutic effect comes from its allicin, and as allicin digests in your body it produces sulfenic acid, a compound that reacts faster with dangerous free radicals than any other known compound. Isn’t that astounding? 🙂
In 2001, a bunch of Israeli food chemists discovered that the common ways that most people prepare garlic destroy most of the health benefits of garlic. Raw garlic contains the ingredients to make allicin, which is its most active ingredient, but not allicin itself. Allicin is made when two substances in garlic come into contact with each other.
One is a protein fragment called alliin and the other is a heat-sensitive enzyme called alliinase. In a clove of garlic, those two compounds are separate. They don’t join together until you slice, press, smash, or chew the garlic. It is then that the barriers between them are ruptured. Then the combustion begins, and the wondrous health benefits also happen.
Here’s the thing: these Israeli chemists found out that if you heat garlic immediately after crushing or dicing it, you destroy the heat-sensitive enzyme that is necessary to create the allicin. Two minutes in a frying pan will take away nearly all the health benefits of garlic. Only one minute in the microwave, and none of the awesome cancer-fighting ability of garlic will be left.
BUT. Here’s the secret, the cool part, the thing that will change the way you cook with garlic forever. And it is so simple. You can go ahead and chop and smash and dice or slice your garlic, and then keep it away from the heat for ten minutes. That’s it. That’s all.
During this health-enhancing, disease-fighting ten minutes, the maximum amount of allicin is created, so the heat-sensitive enzyme is no longer needed. You can sauté or bake or fry or broil the garlic to your heart’s content with complete confidence that you will reap all the health benefits of this unassuming, yet powerfully nutritious food.
And you know, garlic has so many healing properties that waiting those crucial ten minutes could potentially reduce your risk of a number of horrible diseases.
By the way, if you eat garlic raw, no worries. It’s only the premature heating of garlic that destroys those compounds.
Now. Wasn’t that worth the tease? You see why I just had to share this with you, Gentle Reader, and I hope you share it with your friends, too. (Use the share buttons. Or your telephone. Or in casual conversation, over the garden gate. Just share!) And out of curiosity, I’d love it if you left a quick comment below, on whether you had ever heard this fact before. I rather think that it hasn’t gotten around to everybody yet, since it was only just discovered, in 2001. By those crazy Israeli chemists. Bless ’em.
Oh! Also, this is where I learned this cool fact: from Jo Robinson’s excellent book, Eating on the Wild Side. This book is so full of these sorts of food facts that I recommend that you buy or borrow a copy and read it. It should be on every eater’s shelf, with your favorite cookbooks!
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this book before in this space. 🙂
Well, I’m off–I’m hungry for garlic now, so I think I’ll go smash and dice some–and then wait for ten minutes!–and then cook up some garlic-heavy stir-fry. Thanks for stopping by, my Gentle Reader.
- Ten Things I love about my hubby
- The Nourishing Homestead, by Ben Hewitt: fun comes in threes!