Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How to Get More Antioxidants From Garlic

Garlic has substances that can benefit the body

Some of the properties of these substances are: anti-fungal, antibiotic, can treat athletes foot and nail fungus, enhances blood circulation and keeps the circulatory system in check, helps lower LDL(bad cholesterol), boost the immune system, antioxidant, relieves bronchitis, stops phlegm, an expectorant, soothes gastritis and dysentery, anti blood coagulation and a lot more.

The strength of health benefits it brings to your body depends on how you prepare and cook the garlic. If not prepared properly, the antioxidant strength may be strong. weak or none at all. I'll tell you in a little while on how to prepare garlic in order to bring out it's health benefits but first let's take a look at the substances.

Allicin has antioxidant properties

The main substance of garlic that can give us the most health benefit is called the allicin (a sulfur compount). It has many properties aside from being an antioxidant. Allicin however does not exist when the garlic bulb is intact and undamaged.
Allicin is only formed when the garlic is crushed or sliced rupturing the cell compartments which contain many substances including alliin and allinase,

When alliin (an amino acid) comes in contact with allinase (an enzyme), it produces a chemical reaction which turns aliin into allicin. That's the time you can smell the pungent odor of garlic. Allicin is now formed which could bring many health benefits for your body.

How to choose garlic

  • The bulb and cloves must be undamaged, no visible cracks or cuts.
  • Don't choose the big ones called elephant garlic because it is less potent than the small ones. The elephant garlic are more related to the leek than to garlic.
  • The bulb or cloves must be plump and firm when you try to squeeze it.
  • There must be no sign of sprouting
  • The outer or papery covering must be dry.
  • No rot.

Storing garlic

  • Never store garlic immersed in oil at room temperature as it would give rise to botulism (a toxin which could bring stomach illness leading eventually to death)
  • Never store garlic in the refrigerator for a long time as it could also give rise to botulism.
  • Store it at a dry well ventilated location. It could last for 3 to 6 months.

How to prepare garlic to obtain the most health benefit

To get the most out of garlic, it's pungent odor must be released because it is an indication of the presence of allicin. Some culinary techniques are used to lessen it's odor because some people does not like the smell of it. The health benefits however decline.

  • Smash the unpeeled cloves with the flat of a knife. These should create some formation of allicin.
  • Peel the leaves and slice the cloves into small pieces to have more aliin and allinase combine to create allicin.
  • Leave for several minutes before cooking to allow more reactions of aliin and allinase. The more the reactions, the better health and antioxidants benefits it will bring.
  • Pour the sliced cloves into the cooking pot only when you are almost done with the cooking. Allicin is very volatile and could be lost after a few hours. Long exposure to heat also shortens the life of allicin,

Your food is now loaded with antioxidants from garlic. Enjoy the holiday season with health in mind!

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