If you have limited time to make meals for your family you may be tempted to use powdered garlic rather than fresh. What could be simpler? Buy garlic in glass spice shakers and conveniently sprinkle it into recipes – a real time saver. But what about the health benefits? Does fresh garlic have the same health properties as garlic powder?
Fresh Garlic vs. Powdered Garlic: What’s the Difference?
One of the most compelling benefits of garlic is its effects on heart health. According to recent research, garlic doesn’t significantly lower cholesterol levels as was previously thought, but it does appear to relax coronary blood vessels, allowing more oxygen-rich blood to reach the heart muscle. A new study shows that this increased blood flow to the heart comes from the hydrogen sulfide found in fresh garlic. Hydrogen sulfide is the same chemical that gives rotten eggs their bad odor. When fresh garlic is crushed, hydrogen sulfide is released which allows the vessels leading to the heart to dilate and supply more oxygen to the heart. In a sense, it opens up the blood vessels, so oxygen-rich blood flows more freely.
The Importance of Using Fresh Garlic in Recipes
Unfortunately, processed garlic powder lacks this hydrogen sulfide compound, meaning that there are less heart-related benefits. In a study published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers showed that giving fresh garlic vs. powdered garlic to rats led to entirely different effects on the heart. When in these rats there was a simulation of heart damage similar to a heart attack, the rats that had fresh garlic experienced better blood flow to the damaged heart muscle than the rats given powdered, processed garlic. On a positive note, both forms of garlic appeared to reduce heart damage related to lack of oxygen.
Where does it lead?
Does this mean you should trade in your powdered garlic and use fresh garlic in recipes? If you’re concerned about heart health, it may be more beneficial to use fresh garlic. Garlic powder may still provide some of the other health benefits associated with fresh garlic, although few studies have been done using powdered garlic. Garlic has proof to have anti-bacterial properties and may be beneficial for people with diabetes due to its stabilizing effect on blood sugar levels. It’s also a good source of antioxidants. If you want the most health benefits, consider eating it raw. Raw garlic is thought to be more potent than cooked garlic, particularly regarding its anti-bacterial properties. Even low amounts of heat seem to reduce its power to fight ward off bacteria.
Fresh Garlic vs. Powdered Garlic: The bottom line?
Cooking with fresh garlic and using fresh garlic in recipes seems to provide more heart-healthy benefits than using powdered garlic. Whenever possible, use freshly crushed garlic, but keep a jar of powdered garlic in the spice cabinet when you’re pinched for time.
American Chemical Society (2009, July 29). Freshly Crushed Garlic Better For The Heart Than Processed. ScienceDaily.