Gaining the Most from Your Garlic



We’ve all heard the tales about garlic protecting against evil and warding off vampires, but garlic is much more than an accessory to be worn around your neck at Halloween! Garlic provides numerous health benefits and is one of the most popular seasoning ingredients around. It goes well in almost any savory recipe and in my opinion, you can never have too much garlic!

This pungent bulb is a member of the allium family along with onions, shallots, chives and leeks. It is arranged in a head called a bulb that is made up of smaller, separate cloves.

Garlic has a long history of medicinal use, dating back over 5,000 years. Records indicate that Hippocrates prescribed garlic for a wide range of medical conditions. The original Olympic athletes also used it as a performance enhancer!

Studies have found that garlic:

  • Has antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral properties
  • May help manage high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Can reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Helps reduce inflammation.


Whether or not you get all the powerful health benefits of garlic depends on how you prepare and cook it. The best known compounds of garlic are allin and allicin:

  • Allin gives garlic its characteristic taste
  • Allicin is the main active ingredient in garlic and gives garlic its infamous aroma

IMG_3441Allicin is created when the protein allin and alliinase come into contact. These compounds are isolated from one another until you slice, press, or chew garlic. Heating garlic immediately after slicing destroys the heat sensitive enzyme, alliinase, which is responsible for triggering the reaction. Therefore, NO allicin is created.

Heating garlic immediately in a frying pan for 2 minutes or in a microwave for 60 seconds reduces garlic to little more than a flavoring ingredient. Bye, bye powerful health benefits!

So how can you reap all the benefits of garlic? Simply make a few changes in the way you prepare it: chop, mince, slice or press garlic then keep garlic away from heat for 10 minutes. It’s as easy as PRESS and REST!!

By doing this, you maximize the amount of allicin that is created and the health benefits that are associated with garlic.

Choose Fresh

In the culinary world, there is simply no comparison between the flavor of fresh and pre-minced garlic. While the squeeze bottles of pre-minced garlic may seem very appealing, peeling and mincing your own fresh garlic at home really isn’t as bad as many people think.

Check out this trick for peeling an entire head of garlic in less than 20 seconds. And it won’t leave your hands smelling like garlic the rest of the day!

Now that you have the garlic peeled, invest in a good garlic press and press away. The press will give you the same perfectly minced garlic you would get from the jars at the store (but with a ton more flavor!).


Roasted Garlic



2 heads garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
Aluminum foil


  1. Pre-heat oven to 425° F.
  2. Slice the top off each head of garlic to expose the individual cloves.
  3. Place heads of garlic on a piece of aluminum foil.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil to coat.
  5. Wrap foil tightly around garlic.
  6. Place in oven and roast for approximately 45 minutes, or until cloves are lightly browned.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool.
  8. Gently squeeze garlic to remove individual cloves. You can also use a small fork to pull the cloves out if you prefer.
  9. Eat as is or make into a paste by mashing cloves with a fork.


Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe.


About Author

Ashley Bailey, MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP


Ashley is a Nutritionist at SAS Institute in Cary, NC. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner, Certified Biofeedback Instructor and also has a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management. Outside of work, Ashley enjoys crafting, cooking, walking and spending as much time as possible at the beach. Follow @abaileyRD on Twitter.

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