Garlic is well-known for its ability to add rich, savory flavor to any dish. But did you know that eating garlic raw provides even more powerful health benefits? Raw garlic contains a higher concentration of allicin and antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and immune-boosting properties. Read on to learn about the many ways you can incorporate raw garlic into your diet and reap its amazing health benefits.
The Versatility of Garlic as an Ingredient
Garlic is one of the most versatile ingredients in cooking. Its pungent and distinct flavor can transform the taste of everything from savory dishes like pastas, pizzas, and stir fries to salad dressings, soups, and sauces. While cooked garlic still retains some of its nutritional value, eating garlic raw maximizes its health benefits.
Benefits of Eating Raw Garlic
When garlic is crushed, chopped, or chewed, it triggers the release of an enzyme called alliinase. This enzyme causes the formation of allicin, which is thought to be responsible for many of garlic’s medicinal properties. Cooking garlic destroys the alliinase enzyme, so the allicin is never formed. Here are some of the top benefits of consuming raw garlic:
- Preservation of health benefits: Allicin, the powerful bioactive compound in garlic, is best preserved when garlic is raw and crushed. Cooking significantly reduces the availability of allicin.
- Rich flavor addition: The sharp, pungent flavor of raw garlic adds a kick to any dish. It provides great flavor enhancement with minimal effort.
Health Benefits of Raw Garlic
Historical Uses of Raw Garlic
For centuries, garlic has been used around the world for its medicinal properties. Various ancient civilizations used raw garlic to treat ailments such as:
- Breathing disorders
- Intestinal worms
- Poor digestion
Modern research has proven many of garlic’s legendary health benefits. Eating garlic raw ensures you reap the most rewards.
Allicin and Antioxidants in Raw Garlic
Raw garlic contains two powerful phytonutrients that are responsible for many of its health benefits:
- Allicin: This sulfur compound gives garlic its distinctive smell and taste. It’s also a potent anti-inflammatory agent that may boost heart health and immune function.
- Antioxidants: Garlic contains antioxidants like vitamin C, quercetin, and sulfur compounds. These protect your body from cell-damaging free radicals.
Vitamins and Minerals in Raw Garlic
In addition to allicin and antioxidants, raw garlic provides an array of vitamins and minerals, including:
- Vitamin A: This essential vitamin supports eye health and your immune system.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C boosts immune function and acts as an antioxidant. Just 1 clove of garlic provides 5–8% of your daily vitamin C needs.
- Potassium: Raw garlic is high in potassium, which can help control your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.
12 Ways to Eat Raw Garlic
Now that you know the major benefits of raw garlic, here are 12 simple ways to add it to your diet:
1. Mince it and add it to salads or salad dressing
Mincing raw garlic and sprinkling it over your salad gives a nutritional boost along with a punch of flavor. The small pieces are not overpowering. For salad dressing, minced garlic can be whisked with olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, herbs, and lemon juice.
2. Add it to homemade hummus
Chickpea hummus gets an extra dose of flavor and nutrition with the addition of minced raw garlic. The garlic combines deliciously with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices in hummus.
3. Mix it with tomatoes to make bruschetta
One of the most classic garlic appetizers is fresh bruschetta. Chopped raw garlic can be sautéed briefly with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and fresh basil. Spoon this mix over toasted bread for a protein-packed snack.
4. Make garlic butter
Adding raw minced garlic to softened butter makes a fast and tasty garlic butterSpread it over toast, grilled meat,cooked vegetables, popcorn, or noodles. To make it, combine softened butter with minced garlic, herbs, lemon juice, and optionally cayenne or black pepper.
5. Make aioli
Aioli is a creamy seasoned mayonnaise that can be used as a dip, sandwich spread, or sauce. The key ingredients are raw garlic and olive oil. To make it, crush garlic cloves and combine with egg yolk, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
6. Add it to guacamole
To give traditional guacamole an extra bite, mix in a teaspoon or two of minced raw garlic. Stir it into mashed avocados along with lime juice, diced onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and salt.
7. Make a garlic paste
For an intense garlic flavor, make a quick garlic paste. Crush garlic cloves and combine with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Spread atop bread, meats, and vegetables.
8. Add it to sauces
Raw garlic can be minced and added to tomato sauce, Alfredo sauce, pesto, chimichurri, and any other savory sauce. The garlic gives these sauces an antioxidant and immune-system boost.
9. Add it to smoothies
For a strong dose of raw garlic’s immune-boosting compounds, add one or two minced garlic cloves to your morning fruit or vegetable smoothie. The garlic flavor blends well with chocolate, berries, bananas, or avocados.
10. Make garlic-infused olive oil
Infusing olive oil with raw garlic adds great flavor to salad dressings, pastas, and bread dipping oils. Gently heat olive oil and add minced garlic. Let it infuse for 1 hour before straining out the garlic.
11. Make garlic tea
To get an immediate dose of garlic’s antimicrobial properties, try sipping on garlic tea. Steep 2-3 minced garlic cloves in hot water for 5-10 minutes before drinking.
12. Add it to store-bought pesto
Add an extra punch of flavor and nutrition to store-bought pesto sauces by mixing in 1-2 minced garlic cloves per 1/4 cup of pesto.
The Powerful Health Benefits of Raw Garlic
Garlic is incredibly versatile and can be easily incorporated into your diet in raw form through pastes, salad dressings, dips, butter, oil infusions and more. Consuming garlic raw will provide you with the most health benefits, as the allicin and antioxidants are preserved. From enhancing heart health to immunity and even helping fight diabetes and cancer, garlic is a simple ways to boost your overall wellbeing.
We encourage you to try some of the suggested ideas for enjoying raw garlic. You’ll be surprised by how seamlessly you can add its flavor and nutrition into meals and beverages. Get creative and come up with your own ways to incorporate more of this superfood into your diet.