Why You Should Wait Before Cooking With Chopped Garlic

There are so many reasons to love garlic. For one, it adds a wonderful flavor and kick to a variety of dishes across all kinds of cuisines. Not only is garlic delicious, but it also has some impressive medicinal and health benefits. Per Healthline, garlic is low in calories, yet rich in vitamins B6 and C, manganese, selenium, and antioxidants. Garlic can also help improve immune function, reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and lower the risk of heart disease, and may help improve bone health, reduce heavy metal toxicity, and prevent dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Many of the health benefits of garlic are due to the compound allicin. According to Verywell Health, allicin may also help reduce inflammation in the body, block cell- and tissue-harming free radicals, and may even protect against certain cancers, while preventing cancer cells from spreading.  Science Direct adds that allicin also has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Allicin is also what gives garlic its distinctive pungent aroma and taste. When fresh garlic is chewed (raw), chopped, crushed, minced, or sliced, the alliinase enzyme inside garlic is activated and converts alliin, a chemical also found inside garlic, into allicin. However, allicin is only moderately stable as a compound and can easily be destroyed by the heat of cooking for even a few minutes, warns Nutrition Facts.

Waiting to cook chopped garlic can help increase and preserve its health benefits

Luckily, there is a very easy way to extend the benefits of allicin, even if you do ultimately have to cook the garlic you just cut. All you need to do is wait 10 minutes before adding your cut garlic to the pan, pot, or oven, or otherwise exposing the cut garlic to heat, which is one of the best tips you need when cooking with garlic. Although allicin production starts within seconds of garlic being cut (via Science Direct), 10 minutes is needed for the maximum amount of allicin to be produced, explains Brainstorm Health, which helps ensure that you gain more of its many benefits, even after the garlic has been cooked.

During those 10 minutes, you can continue to prep other ingredients for your dish, or you could start cooking other ingredients first. As an added benefit, by waiting to add your garlic until later in the cooking process, you also minimize the risk of burning that garlic, which is something that can easily happen when you add it too early on in the cooking process, and which offers no benefits at all.