The garlic secret that you must know before you eat another bite!

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!).

This was two days ago.

This was two days ago. Note the ground. Brown. If you look really close in the foreground, you’ll see The Rock under which we reside.

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.

But no.

Can you see the antlers, mostly down in the water? I am so going to find a way to rescue this gorgeous skull!

Can you see the antlers, mostly down in the water? I am so going to find a way to rescue this gorgeous skull! And check out those teeth!

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.)

"Don't even think about it, Mom," were her words. And her look was even more stern than her words.

“Don’t even think about it, Mom,” were her words. And her look was even more stern than her words.

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!

Click here to learn more!

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.



25 thoughts on “The garlic secret that you must know before you eat another bite!

  1. Nathana Clay (

    Good to know! We eat A LOT of garlic in many forms, but I did not know about this! My midwife just told me to start taking garlic and cranberry supplements because I may have a slight urinary infection we want to wipe out naturally. Do you know much about supplements? She did say I could eat the straight cloves, which we have, but I don’t know if I could get myself to do that . . .

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I don’t know that much about supplements, Nathana, but I’m sure your midwife can steer you in the right direction.

  2. DFW

    Love your website but you just lost me on the garlic. I think garlic should be used as an enhancer of food, not as an overpowerer of it. When I meet a tomato, I like to taste the tomato, as well as the green beans, asparagus, squash, etc. I like the taste of food not the enhancer. I think too much of it makes all food taste the same & very blah. A jelly jar of dried crushed garlic lasts us at least a year. Just enough to enhance the flavor not overpower it. Sorry I don’t feel or taste your enjoyment of it.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      My Grandma, a true health nut before there were health nut, used garlic as medicine, so I suppose that’s where I picked up such a love and a respect for garlic and its health powers. If we had sniffles or were coming down with something, she’d make us “garlic tea” with lots of honey and lemon. It wasn’t easy to get it down, but she was convinced that it would help! I think she was way ahead of her time.

  3. Teagan

    Interesting! Apparently I’ve unintentionally been doing it right all along, as I chop the garlic before prepping any other ingredients. Also coincidentally, tonight’s dinner used at least 8 cloves of garlic to feed just the two (and a half) of us – I love garlic!

  4. Doree Weller

    I’m a garlic fan, and I had no idea about this fun fact! Now that I know, I’ll have to remember to prep my garlic this way. Of course, I’m almost always in a hurry when I cook, but I can try to slow it down for this.

  5. Terry

    I do believe I heard that somewhere, but you explained it very well as to why we wait ten minutes. Amy, I still think you should write a book, you would do very well, maybe become famous, maybe get a best seller, maybe make lots of money……have I gone on long enough? lol

  6. Dorit Sasson

    Wow! This topic hit home for me in so many ways. I am going to share with my network. Israel hits the map again with their breakthroughs!! I lived in Israel for 20 years and science, nutrition and technology (currently writing my memoir on serving in the Israel Defense Forces) are all on the cutting edges and breakthroughs. This is an amazing post about the benefits of garlic and what can go wrong when we misuse it/destroy its benefits. Amazing information to know!
    Dorit Sasson

  7. rita

    I love garlic too. I recently made a mustard that uses fresh garlic and cilantro (another taste people either love or hate). It was delish!! I will share if you want it.

  8. Bethany M.

    I have always used lots of garlic in cooking. I love the stuff! But this post taught me a lot about this amazing little tidbit that I never knew. Thanks Mom! Saia has started using it in everything he cooks–in abundant porportions. Turkey neck soup–lots of garlic! Chicken and tomato goulash–lots of garlic! Pork and green bean stirfry–lots of garlic! And this was just in the last two days. Hopefully we won’t get sick again this semester. Knock on wood.

  9. Roxanne

    I really enjoy garlic, I decided to make a DIY immune booster, mixing a portion of fresh puréed garlic and RAW honey, you are suppose to take a teaspoon a day, well I just tried my first dose and felt very ill, I allowed my system to accept the concoction and I feel much better. OK I quess my inquiry is I think I am going to probably mix it in a salad dressing or such to consume daily instead, I think your system goes into a sort of shock initially while injesting the concoction, so that being noted I feel that the properties will not be affected if I add it to dressing, no cooking involved. Please send me your thoughts.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I’d agree with you that consuming raw garlic in the form of part of a salad dressing would be a great, painless way to get it into your system. Much easier (and just as good for you!) than trying to get it down in a spoonful of honey! Sometimes I also will just crush up a few cloves in butter, and spread it on toast: yum!

  10. Dianne

    Would cutting the top off a bulb, waiting 10 minutes, drizzling with oil and roasting preserve the nutients? Would cutting the top be enough?

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      This sounds excellent. I think as long as the cloves are cut, you will still retain those nutrients, Dianne. This sounds lovely and delicious.

  11. Amy

    I’m very glad to know how to get the maximum benefit from all the garlic we grow. I hadn’t heard this before, but I made a delicious lemon-garlic salad dressing last week and will now add raw garlic to all my homemade dressings. I have been putting it into the frying pan right out of the garlic press, so will definitely change to waiting 10 minutes! Thanks for the garlic/butter on toast idea!

  12. rita penner

    Great information!! It’s almost the time of year when garlic should def be upped around here. It takes a couple of weeks unless you eat a lot of it, but eating garlic keeps mosquitoes from biting you.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Ahhh, why do I always forget that trick? Do you eat it daily, Rita, and does it have to be raw, or does it have the same mosquito-annoying qualities if you eat it cooked? Please inform.

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