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posted: 8/4/2010 12:01 AM

Even cooked, garlic a healthful choice

Ask the Nutrionist

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Q. Is it true that garlic provides health benefits only if it's eaten raw?

A. No. It's true that cooking stops the process in which the "active" compounds in garlic are generated. But plenty are formed if you chop the garlic and allow it to stand for about 10 or 15 minutes before cooking it.

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The only time cooking keeps us from getting garlic's health benefits is when we roast whole garlic, since the active compounds have not had time to form. That is still a healthy choice, since the soft cloves that result from roasting make a wonderful spread, with no fat or significant sodium.

Q. Does drinking lots of water really promote weight loss?

A. You might hear that drinking water "flushes fat out," but that does not make sense with what we know of how our body processes food and nutrients, and research doesn't provide any support for that idea.

On the other hand, switching to water from high-calorie soft drinks, lemonade, sweetened tea or deluxe coffee drinks with whipped cream toppings could certainly play a big role in weight loss if you drink these beverages regularly. It might be interesting to calculate what you consume in a typical day; it's easy to underestimate how the calories from our beverage choices can add up.

Drinking water before or during meals may also help to fill you up and slow you down to help you eat less at meals. Studies are mixed about whether or not this actually reduces calorie consumption, but you could certainly test out how it works for you.

Remember, the goal is not to eat less than you need; it's to avoid the over-eating that can occur when you come to a meal too hungry or eat too quickly to notice when you've had enough.

• Provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research. Learn more about the group and its New American Plate program at aicr.org.

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