Black garlic is a carefully fermented form of garlic with higher antioxidants, and more accessible health benefits. Black garlic benefits are easy to access, since you can make black garlic at home.
Black garlic is made through a carefully temperature and humidity controlled fermentation process, that permits the amino acids and sugar to react. This reaction is known as a “Maillard reaction.” While fresh, white garlic is firm and crisp, black garlic is soft and spreadable, even slightly sticky. They have differences in flavor and taste as well, and black garlic may be closer to roasted garlic for flavor and texture.
Raw garlic is a powerhouse of benefits just on it’s own. Due to the change in chemical structures there are some differences in black garlic benefits, compared to normal raw garlic, and normal roasted garlic.
Garlic is an easy plant to grow in your garden, or backyard. It’s a member of the allium family, that includes onions, chives, scallions, and shallots. Garlic cloves are planted in autumn, as they need a chill period to help them set up heads during the next growing season. Garlic heads are harvested in late summer, or fall, and let air-dry, before the dirt is brushed off them and they are put into cold storage. At any point after harvest, you can use garlic cloves to make black garlic.
Fresh garlic is often recommended for being anti bacterial, and good against infections. It’s also often used as a dewormer, and anti-parasitic.
Aged black garlic can be used for culinary purposes. Those offering black garlic supplements for health purposes may label it as a black garlic extract, aged garlic extract, or aged black garlic extract. But, you can actually make your own black garlic from fresh garlic bulbs too.
Black Garlic Benefits:
Higher in antioxidants. Black garlic is higher in antioxidants than raw garlic, by about three times. Antioxidant levels peak around day 21 of the fermentation process. The fermentation process can improve the antioxidant properties of garlic due to converting allicin into alkaloids and flavinoids. Antioxidants help protect your body against free radicals and free radical damage, and antioxidants in general have been linked to reduced risk of heart disease, increased heart health, and are anti-cancer.
Black Garlic May Boost Heart Health:
In studies with rats, black garlic was found to reduce indicators of heart disease, including bad cholesterol, the ldl type, and increasing the hdl cholesterol. While a different study, still on rats, found that garlic whether fermented into black garlic or raw, helped improve circulation and protect against damage to the heart. Black garlic was also found to reduce the concentration of blood urea nitrogen. This compound is a biological marker that can cause your body to trigger the hormone vasopressin, leading to higher blood pressure and an electrolyte imbalance. Keeping blood urea nitrogen low, can be a prevention to that specific cause of high blood pressure, and electrolyte imbalance.
It may reduce insulin resistance:
Animal studies with black garlic show improved insulin response when the animals were fed black garlic. This does mean that if you’re on insulin you should talk to your doctor before deciding to take black garlic in a therapeutic dose. It may have some potential for helping manage blood sugar levels without the use of additional insulin, in cases where that is applicable. Culinary use of black garlic, since it’s flavor is different to normal garlic, should still be safe for those with diabetes. Culinary use of garlic, and black garlic, is generally considered safe for pregnancy, as well.
Another of the black garlic benefits is that it may be anti-cancer. The increased antioxidants already give it some increase anti-cancer properties, compared to raw garlic. Including black garlic as part of a holistic, and generally healthy lifestyle could help reduce one’s risk of developing cancer cells.
One study found that black garlic extract had a toxic effect to cancer cells from stomach, breast, and liver cancer. That study also found that black garlic extract outperformed an extract of regular garlic for cancer killing ability. This study was done with black garlic directly applied to cells in a petri dish, and with limited sample size, but it is interesting data.
Improve Brain Health:
Another of the potential black garlic benefits is an improvement in brain health and cognitive conditions. Specifically, black garlic can help reduce oxidative stress on the brain, due to it’s antioxidant content. Oxidative stress, especially from aging, is one of the contributing factors in developing Alzheimer’s disease. Consumption of black garlic as part of a holistic lifestyle could help reduce the probability of this disease developing, or just help retain brain function.
Black garlic has been studied for it’s liver protective abilities in rodents. While this affect has not been studied yet in humans, it is likely to affect humans just as effectively as rats and mice. Regular garlic has been studied for it’s liver protective abilities, in humans, and since black garlic has higher antioxidant levels, it is likely to have the same, or higher level of liver protectiveness as it’s regular counterpart.
The effects of black garlic will likely take some time to show. Herbs are not pills that act instantly. Most herbs act on multiple body systems, and in multiple different ways, giving your body the building blocks it needs to be healthy and active. Black garlic is going to be the same, in that it will act in multiple different ways, and may take time for the positive impact to be seen.
Garlic itself is supportive to the immune system, helps reduce inflammation, and is tasty. Black garlic has most of the same properties, with it’s antioxidant compounds increased due to the fermentation process.
Using Black Garlic:
Black garlic can be used in many culinary applications. Spread it on your favorite crackers or breads. Use it in sauces and marinades. Or add it to yogurt or hummus as part of the flavoring, in addition to regular garlic, or instead of your regular raw garlic. Black garlic can also be eaten straight, depending on how much you like eating garlic.
Using black garlic as a culinary spice is a great way to access the health benefits of black garlic and include them in your daily life. Herbs as ingredients can be a great way to improve over-all health, and over-all flavor of food too.
Due to the fermentation process, I’d recommend using black garlic in non-heated recipes or adding it to dishes at the end of cooking. This helps preserve the antioxidants and flavinoids that the black garlic has developed. Due to the change in flavours of the black garlic, it makes a slightly sweet garlic butter for garlic bread too.
Using black garlic in culinary amounts shouldn’t cause any complications or side effects. The main side effect that could happen, with black garlic, is it interacting with insulin if taken in large quantities. Garlic and black garlic are also counter-indicated with blood thinners, and should be avoided before surgery, same as turmeric. Garlic and black garlic should also be avoided if their is an allium family allergy, or if there is stomach sensitivity to garlic in general.
Using black garlic, instead of fresh garlic, in dishes may be better for nursing moms, if their little ones are sensitive to garlic. The fermentation process helps break down the allicin, and reduces the gastrointestinal discomfort that raw garlic can cause. This also reduces the amount of allicin available to pass on to the little one, reducing their discomfort and chances of a colicky night after mom enjoyed garlic bread.
Back to You:
Happy National Garlic Day! Have you ever tried black garlic? If you have, what differences in flavor did you notice and did you enjoy it? If you haven’t tried black garlic, what is your favorite garlic-containing dish? Share it in the comments to celebrate national garlic day!