Get that recipe with garlic coming my way! Why? Let' see, it has long been believed that the organic compound allicin, which gives garlic its characteristic aroma and flavor, acts as the world's most powerful antioxidant. But until now it hasn't been clear how allicin works, or how it compares to more common antioxidants such as vitamin E and coenzyme Q10.
A research team investigated whether allicin could be as effective as claimed. Through experiments with synthetically produced allicin, they found that sulfenic acid produced when the compound decomposes rapidly reacts with dangerous free radicals.
Researchers said that the reaction between the sulfenic acid and radicals is as fast as it can get, limited only by the time it takes for the two molecules to come into contact. No other compound has been observed to react as an antioxidant so quickly.
Garlic is antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. Studies have even found it is effective at killing antibiotic-resistance bacteria, and for reducing fungal infections, such as yeast infections, and fighting viruses and parasites.
People who eat the most garlic and onions (a close family member to garlic) have increased protection against at least five forms of cancer, according to Italian and Swiss studies, including:
• Esophageal cancer
• Colon cancer
• Breast cancer
• Ovarian cancer
• Prostate cancer
Eating whole foods is a far better approach to taking a supplement, and in the case of garlic this is especially true.
Typically garlic must be crushed or chopped in order to stimulate the process that converts alliin into the beneficial allicin. Once the garlic is cut, the active compound in garlic loses potency rapidly and will all but disappear within about an hour of chopping.
So the best way to eat garlic is to take a whole, fresh clove, chop it, smash it or press it, wait a few minutes for the reaction to occur, and then eat it. If you use jarred, powdered, or dried garlic, you will not get all the benefits that fresh garlic has to offer.
Science Daily January 31, 2009
Angewandte Chemie International Edition December 22, 2008, Volume 48 Issue 1, Pages 157-160
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