New Delhi: One of the many goals to stay healthy includes staying disease-free. To stay away from infections and diseases, a healthy, and strong immune system is a prerequisite. The food we eat has an effect on all our body systems and functions, including immunity. One food item that has been linked with improved immunity is garlic.
Garlic has been used in medicines for centuries and has many health benefits. Reports and studies suggest that garlic can reduce heart disease risk, improve mental health, and immune function. A few common conditions that garlic can prevent are cold, flu, cough, etc. However, the way garlic is prepared and consumed can really alter its properties, and change the way it helps the body.
An enzyme present in garlic, called the alliinase, coverts alliin to allicin. Allicin is a compound that helps to fight inflammation, and also contains high antioxidants, which also helps reduce free radical activity in the body, and reduce risk of diseases. To keep alliinase intact in garlic, it is recommended that garlic should not be microwaved. A study suggests that as less as one minute of microwave heat can deactivate the immunity-boosting enzyme.
Alliinase is released when the garlic clove is crushed or chopped. Researchers also suggest that keeping the garlic for 10 minutes before you start cooking can help keep the medicinal properties of garlic intact. The loss of medicinal properties due to cooking can be compensated for by more use of garlic in food.
4 ways to include garlic in your diet for better immunity
Garlic chutney – Chutney is a great food accompaniment eaten widely in India. Garlic chutney can help enhance the taste of the food, and at the same time, help in boosting immunity. Garlic chutney is made in different ways in different regions of the country and can be stored for a few days as well.
Garlic oil – Garlic oil is made by infusing raw garlic, into cooking oils. However, garlic oil has been found to be toxic to rats. Therefore, buy garlic oil with consultation from your doctor, and if you make it at home, make sure to preserve it right. Garlic oil can help to keep the risk of diseases at bay.
Using fresh garlic in food – One of the best ways to include garlic in your diet is to use fresh garlic in your food, as a flavouring agent. Garlic has a strong flavour and smell and can be used to enhance the taste of the food. However, since heat can destroy the medicinal properties of garlic, make sure to use garlic in large quantities, whenever you can.
Aged garlic extract – Aged garlic extract is when raw garlic is cut and kept in 15-20 per cent ethanol for about 1.5 years. Though it does not contain the immunity-boosting enzyme, it does contain the medicinal properties of garlic. Aged garlic extract can be used in food for flavour, and to improve immunity.