Many people wonder how the change of garlic potency with cooking effects its flavor and its medicinal benefits.
Garlic is an interesting addition to the diet, providing both flavor and medicinal benefits and is consumed raw and cooked. Before looking at the effects of cooking garlic in more detail, it's important to know a little more about this important herb.
What Is Garlic?
Garlic is a member of the onion family. It has a long and historic use as both a way of seasoning foods of many different types and also as a medicinal herb. Garlic grows as a bulb that is formed of many cloves and is widely grown in most countries around the world. The largest producer of garlic internationally is China. The cloves are used in a variety of ways, although are typically chopped to release the maximum flavor and then added to other foods as a seasoning. Garlic can be eaten raw or cooked.
The Medicinal Benefits of Garlic
Many of the worlds ancient civilizations used garlic in different ways as a medicinal herb. Today it remains an important natural remedy. Ways that garlic is reported to aid health include:
- To protect against coughs and colds - the BBC reported recent research that suggested that garlic could offer important protection when taken regularly.
- Anti-bacterial powers - it is reported that during World War One surgeons regularly used garlic juice to stop wounds turning septic.
- Lowering cholesterol and blood pressure - Garlic Central reports on the effect of garlic on cholesterol.
The amount of garlic to take varies depending on the reasons that it is being consumed. A trained alternative health professional will be able to advise on the quantities to take and help draw up a health plan. This should not be done in isolation, however, and a traditional doctor should be consulted before embarking on an alternative health plan.
Taking Garlic for Medicinal Use
To obtain maximum benefit from garlic it would traditionally have been consumed in its raw state. Today, however, there are many more convenient ways of consuming garlic and this includes pills, tinctures and pastels. These forms of garlic have the dual benefit of being easy to take in measurable doses while also being without the pungent flavor that traditionally goes alongside it.
More information about the health benefits of garlic can be found in this report by the AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians).
Does the Change of Garlic Potency with Cooking Alter the Beneficial Qualities?
The cooking of garlic is reported to alter the beneficial effects. Raw garlic or garlic that is lightly cooked retains more of its natural benefits than heavily cooked garlic. Many cultures who regularly use garlic for its medicinal benefits consume it in both its cooked and raw state. To protect the medicinal qualities of garlic when using it cooked, it is suggested that the garlic is chopped and left to stand for 15 minutes. This allows the enzymes to rest before being cooked and this helps to maximize the benefits.
Whether garlic is used as a foodstuff or as a medicinal herb it can be eaten raw or cooked. The highly distinctive flavor of raw garlic is altered during cooking and the flavor changes, becoming more sweet and mellow. Individual garlic cloves can be chewed or the garlic can be chopped before adding to food.
Garlic can be cooked in a wide variety of ways. It can be chopped and added to stews and casseroles or roasted whole. A head of garlic, when roasted with a little olive oil, loses its strong flavor and becomes almost sweet. Many countries use this as a spread for bread as it adds a lovely pungent flavor.
Garlic can also be infused with oils to make salad dressings or simply drizzled over food to bring some added flavor. The chopping of garlic releases enzymes which increases its potency. There are a wide number of recipes that use garlic and these range from the traditional favorites such as garlic bread through to some unusual ideas that include garlic ice cream!
Garlic is a useful food for both its medicinal qualities and its taste.