Food & Recipes

This Simple Step Before Cooking Garlic Will Boost Its Flavor and Health Benefits

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Garlic fans know it can add deliciously rich flavor to any meal. The bulbs also provide quite a few health benefits, especially for our immunity, blood sugar, and gut. But there’s a common mistake we all probably make while cooking garlic that keeps us from getting the most out of those cloves. Luckily, there’s a super easy fix — we just need a little patience!

Will Bulsiewicz, MD, a gastroenterologist and author of Fiber Fueled (Buy on Amazon, $14.29), shares a ton of simple health tips on his Instagram page (like his favorite gut-restoring coffee add-ins). In a recent post, he revealed just how helpful chowing down on garlic can be.

“When fresh garlic is chopped or crushed, you activate an enzyme called alliinase to convert alliin into allicin, the active form that has been shown to have tremendous health benefits — antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, and antiviral,” he wrote.  

Bulsiewicz added that those enzymes are responsible for boosting heart health and protecting our cells from cancer. They also help amp up our immunity, balance blood sugar, and maintain a healthy gut. That’s a lot for a couple of enzymes!

But he said there’s a catch: “You have to stop for 10 minutes [after chopping] for the alliinase to activate the allicin.” Basically, if we toss garlic into the pan without letting it rest first and activate those enzymes, we’re missing out on the full power of their amazing perks. If that’s not enough to convince you, allowing more time for the activation will also give it a stronger garlicky flavor. 

Bulsiewicz recommends setting a 10-minute timer and prepping the rest of your ingredients while you wait. We promise the time will fly right by — and your gut microbiome, blood sugar balance, and immune system will all be glad you waited!

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