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By Jessica Miller

Why eating garlic and onions is healthy and tips to combat their pungency

Garlic and onions are members of the Allium vegetable family, joined by leeks, shallots, and chives. They can cause bad breath, stinky pores, smelly hands, and watery eyes. Some people avoid them due to their pungency. Researchers have found that garlic and onions protect against cancer, heart attacks, and stroke. There are many methods to combat their unpleasant lingering odors, allowing you to profit from their amazing health benefits.

Health benefits of garlic and onions
Garlic and onions have been proven to prevent the activation of platelets in cells. Dr. Michael Greger explains platelets and summarizes scientific research regarding the health benefits of garlic and onions through video slide shows on his website Platelets are present in human cells in a dormant state. Activation of platelets causes heart attacks and strokes. Garlic and onions decrease activation of these platelets. Dr. Greger also summarizes research that found that Alliums block cancer cells in eight different kinds of tumors — more than any other vegetable group. Pairing garlic with grilled meat can reduce the carcinogenic chemicals produced from grilling.

How to retain health benefits of garlic and onions in food preparation
Raw garlic in recipes such as pesto, hummus, salsa, and guacamole has the most benefits. Cooking garlic will remove most of its anti-platelet properties. Crushing or cutting garlic and waiting ten minutes before cooking it will allow the enzymes to activate, maintaining its cardiovascular healing properties after cooking. Adding raw garlic juice to foods containing cooked garlic can also recover its anti-platelet properties. The study also found that consuming onions that have been cooked significantly still causes a drop in platelet activation.

Mellow garlic and onions in recipes tested methods for reducing the strong flavor of raw garlic in recipes like hummus and pesto. They found that microwaving or blanching garlic was most effective. However, these methods will extinguish some of the disease-fighting properties of garlic. The strong flavor of onions can be mellowed by soaking them in cold water for ten minutes, covering them with salt, then rinsing; or soak them in vinegar as suggested on

No more garlic and onion breath
Garlic and onions, especially when eaten raw, can cause bad breath. To fight stinky breath, eat vegetables and fruits like spinach, lettuce, potatoes, apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, grapes, prunes, or cherries. Eating bread or chewing on raw basil or parsley can help too. Drinking whole milk, chewing gum, and chewing coffee beans are other ways to combat garlic and raw onion breath.

Remove garlic smell from hands
After cutting garlic, have you noticed its smell lingering on your hands for hours or even on to the next day? Washing with warm water and soap does not do much to combat the stench. Try washing your hands with cold water and a stainless steel spoon. Stainless steel and cold water help to remove the smell garlic can leave on hands. Other methods include rubbing coffee (whole beans, fresh ground, or used grounds), salt and lemon juice, peanut butter, baking soda, or toothpaste on hands. Lemon and salt can also be used to remove the garlic and onion smell from wood cutting boards.

Cut onions without shedding tears
The root of an onion contains sulfur; it causes tears when it mixes with oxygen in your eyes. Simply cutting around the bulb and discarding it or cooking it in a soup or stew can prevent your eyes from watering. Another method suggested by Martha Stewart is to cut onions close to an open flame. Either light a candle or cut the onion near a gas burner flame. The flame absorbs the sulfuric acid before it reaches your eyes. Be sure to use a sharp knife when cutting onions; it damages fewer cells in the onion, causing it to release less sulfuric acid. Other ways to prevent tearing up are to refrigerate the onion for at least 30 minutes, rub lemon juice on the knife (you will have to reapply the lemon juice after a few cuts) or put a piece of bread in your mouth to absorb the sulfuric acid.

Use these methods to fight the smelly aftermath of making and eating garlicky hummus and your other favorite garlic dishes. Enjoy the delicious flavors of garlic and onion and know that you are not only treating your palate but your whole body as well.

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