The fact that the antioxidant allicin in garlic is a potent disease-fighter is old news to scientists. But if leeks, shallots and onions – all in the same family as garlic – boast a compound similar to allicin, why aren’t they on par with garlic for their antioxidant power? Researchers at Queen’s University in Canada have discovered that when allicin breaks down it produces sulfenic acid, a compound particularly effective at scavenging free radicals. The allicin copycats in the other vegetables break down more slowly, making them less fast-acting.
To sneak its free-radical-busting properties into your meal plan, add chopped or crushed fresh garlic to pizza, pasta, vinaigrettes and sauces. Since cooking diminishes the antioxidant allicin (al-la-sin) in garlic, add fresh cloves to your cooked dishes just before serving.