Spicy, stinky, and oh-so-good.
One time, when I was in college, my roommate and I were having a prolonged discussion on the health benefits of raw garlic. Now, we both liked garlic fine, but he was of the opinion that it didn’t really matter how you ate it. I sought to prove him wrong by biting into a whole raw clove of garlic. It was one of the spiciest things I have ever put in my mouth, and my eyes were watering for at least an hour after the fact. So that was a dumb idea, obviously, but as long as you aren’t an idiot like I was, raw garlic can provide some great health benefits.
Garlic’s signature spicy taste and pungent odor comes from a natural enzyme called allicin, an organic sulfur compound. It’s anyone’s guess as to why garlic produces its stinky odor (my guess is an evolved defense), but underneath that powerful stank, allicin provides antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and even anti-inflammatory properties. When combined, these properties can do things like relieve hypertension, lower your LDL cholesterol levels, and boost your immune system against rank-and-file viruses like the common cold. Besides the allicin, garlic is also chock full of vitamins B and C, as well as a litany of minerals such as iron, copper, and potassium. No wonder garlic makes Wario so strong…
Cooking garlic alleviates some of its stink, but removes some of its benefits as well, so it’s best to eat it raw when you can. To prevent the spicy apocalypse I had to experience, you should chop it up and add it to foods that accommodate it well, such as pasta, guacamole, or salads. Just don’t eat too much all at once, or your breath will stink to high heaven.