by Megan Tessier
When garlic is crushed or pounded on, a sulfur-containing amino acid named alliin reacts with the enzyme alliinase. When this occurs, alliinase is converted to allicin. Try saying that three times fast! Allicin is what produces the strong-smelling, pungent taste of garlic.1
Garlic adds many nutritional benefits to your meal because it is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.2
To add garlic to a meal, simply peel the garlic cloves, crush them in order to release allicin, and then add the garlic onto your dish as desired.
Controlling the Flavor
There are different methods to breaking up garlic in order to control the flavor. Whole garlic contributes to a sweeter flavor to foods. Mincing (cutting up a food product into very small pieces) has a strong flavor that spreads throughout the dish. Crushing and chopping produces an even stronger flavor.3
The longer you cook a meal, the mellower the garlic flavor becomes. Long-cooking stews and roasting produces a mild and sweet flavor, while raw garlic is very strong.
An alternative to raw garlic is garlic powder. This spice is made up of dehydrated garlic cloves that are ground up into fine particles. Garlic powder is great to have on hand when you want to quickly add some garlic flavor to your meal, or if you simply do not feel like cutting or chopping up anything.
Garlic powder is really useful when it comes to pizza crust, garlic bread, sauces, and BBQ rubs!
Garlic and Health
Garlic has been used in herbal medicine for centuries because of its wide variety of health benefits on the body.
The compounds alliin and allicin found in raw garlic are known to have antioxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Other compounds in garlic, named ajoenes, are thought to play a role in garlic’s ability to reduce risk of blood clots. Garlic may also lower blood pressure and protect against some cancers by reducing tumor cell growth or enhancing the immune system.1
Most studies on garlic, however, have been conducting with cells or animals, not people, and mostly with garlic supplements, not the potent raw stuff! A recent study done in those with type 2 diabetes found that an aged garlic extract supplement had no effect on blood vessel function or insulin response.4
Takeaway Message: Garlic may not cure all that ails you, but it gives an amazing taste and flavor to foods. Opt for fresh garlic added to your favorite dishes rather than popping a supplement.
Creamy Roasted Garlic Hummus5
- 2 cups of canned chickpeas
- 2 tbsp. of tahini
- 4 tbsp. of olive oil
- ¼ cup of warm water
- 1 large head of garlic
- ¼ tsp. of salt
- 1 lemon (squeezed)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Break off the top of the garlic so most of the cloves are a little bit exposed. Coat the cloves with olive oil and tightly wrap in tin foil. Roast the garlic in the oven for 1 hour. Once roasted, allow the garlic to cool down.
- Using your hands, squeeze the garlic out of the cloves and blend in a food processor. Rinse and drain cooked or canned chickpeas. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor until completely smooth.
- If the hummus looks too thick, slowly add more olive oil so that the mixture can combine completely before more liquid is added.
- Serve the hummus at room temperate with pita bread, crackers, or any other food you prefer to dip it with!
- Optional: sprinkle chopped parsley or paprika on top.
- About Herbs, Botanicals, & Other Products. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/garlic. Assessed September 8, 2017.
- Garlic, raw. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Nutrient Data Laboratory, United States Department of Agriculture.
- Christensen, Emma. Crushed, or Minced Garlic: What’s the Difference? Kitchn. http://www.thekitchn.com/whole-crushed-or-minced-garlic-103107. Published December 4, 2009. Accessed August 31, 2017.
- Atkin M, Laight D, Cummings MH. The effects of garlic extract upon endothelial function, vascular inflammation, oxidative stress and insulin resistance in adults with type 2 diabetes at high cardiovascular risk. A pilot double blind randomized placebo controlled trial. J Diabetes Complications 2016; 30(4):723-7. doi:10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2016.01.003.
- Creamy Roasted Garlic Hummus. Food. http://www.food.com/recipe/creamy-roasted-garlic-hummus-202343. Accessed September 2, 2017.