- Raina Chang
Hurry Cut and Wait
Why you should wait 10 min after cutting onions and garlic before adding heat or acid in order to obtain optimal health benefits
Ok so perhaps you shouldn’t hurry while using a sharp knife to cut your alliums. What are alliums? Onions, garlic, shallots, leeks and chives belong to the Allium genus. While the origin of the word Alium is uncertain, it has been associated with the Latin word, olere, which means “to smell” and also the Greek term hallesthai, meaning “to jump out.”¹
Not only do these veggies pack a punch of flavor (thank you mask mandate for hiding the lingering evidence on our breath), but Alliums are rich in flavonoids, chemical compounds also known as phytonutrients, found in many fruits and vegetables that help protect the plants from bacteria, fungus, and viruses.² When we consume these plants, we benefit from protection of these threats as well. These flavorful vegetables are immune boosters and studies show they can also help reduce system inflammation and protect you from damage to your cells and DNA, reducing your risk of cancer.³
How do we harness the optimal benefits when eating these vegetables? Dr. Will Bulsciewicz, gastroenterologist and author of Fiber Fueled: The Plant-Based Gut Health Program for Losing Weight, Restoring Your Health, and Optimizing Your Microbiome, has coined this the “CHOP and STOP Method.” When you chop or crush your alliums, an enzyme called alliinase is activated. This enzyme converts alliin, the bioactive compound in these veggies, to allicin. Allicin can fight drug-resistant bacterial strains like E.coli and Candida albicans and it helps to promote the growth of beneficial gut microbes (this is why garlic and onions are great pre-biotic foods). It takes ten minutes for this enzymatic process to complete.⁴
So, the next time you’re cooking a family meal or doing your weekly meal prep, start out by cutting your garlic and onion first and allow them to sit while you prep the other ingredients. Hurry up, your health can’t wait!
1. Allium sativum L. Allium sativum L. | Garlic | Plant Encyclopaedia | A.Vogel. https://www.avogel.com/plant-encyclopaedia/allium_sativum.php#:~:text=The%20etymology%20of%20the%20name,to%20the%20plant's%20rapid%20growth. Accessed March 30, 2023.
2. Phytochemicals. Stanford Health Care (SHC) - Stanford Medical Center. https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-clinics/cancer-nutrition-services/reducing-cancer-risk/phytochemicals.html#:~:text=Phytochemicals%20are%20chemicals%20found%20in,bacteria%2C%20viruses%2C%20and%20fungi. Accessed March 30, 2023.
3. Ducharme J. Are onions and garlic healthy? here's what experts say. Time. https://time.com/5566916/are-garlic-and-onions-healthy/. Published May 15, 2019. Accessed March 30, 2023.
4. Bulsiewicz W. The Fiber Fueled Foods. In: Fiber Fueled: The Plant-Based Gut Health Program for Losing Weight, Restoring Your Health, and... Optimizing Your Microbiome. New York, NY: AVERY PUB GROUP; 2022:160-162.