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Allicin, My Aim is True

POSTED BY Pink Ribbon Cooking / March 20, 2013

Pink Ribbon Cooking

While driving home the other day I was singing along to the original 1977 version of Alison by Elvis Costello, a favorite song of mine from days long since past.  The sun was out, there was little traffic and the ferries were on time.  So what does Alison, Elvis Costello or my drive home have to do with cancer prevention, survivorship or food for that matter?  Let me explain.

As I hit the second chorus my pronunciation of “Alison” slipped and I accidentally sang out “Allicin”.  A freudian slip, possible, regardless of intent I began to think of Allicin, a phytochemical native to garlic that is released when garlic is chopped or crushed.   

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Allicin is considered to be an antifungal and antibacterial defense mechanism for garlic.  Some of these benefits are passed to us as Allicin bonds with free radicals, ruinous molecules that can cause cellular damage.  Free radicals seem to be connected to several diseases including cancer.

Garlic may present anti-cancer effects by inhibiting free radical production and by acting as a catalyst for the activation of enzymes that weaken and neutralize carcinogens.  Garlic seems to induce apoptosis in certain cancer cells.  Apoptosis is our body’s normal way of ridding unneeded or abnormal cells.   Once a cell begins apoptosis it cannot be undone and the cell will die.  Since many cancer cells have mechanisms that prevent apoptosis from initiating garlic may be a an added weapon in the right circumstances.

So how do you get the most Allicin from garlic?  Separate the cloves from the head, peel and trim them of their stems and any green interior.  Dice, chop or cut the cloves and allow them to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.  

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This resting will allow you to realize the full potential of Allicin.  Consume the garlic raw, without heating or drying. Our Grilled Skirt Steak with Fresh Tomato Salsa recipe maximizes garlic's health and flavor charachter nicely. 

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This thought train was both a blessing and curse, for my mind explored garlic quite extensively, but I missed the last half of one of my favorite songs.