If you love the savory flavor and punch that garlic gives to food — not to mention the ancient allium’s revered health-boosting benefits, it’s time you discovered a resurrected treasure: black garlic.
With twice the antioxidant level of the better-known white variety, black garlic should join your list of must-have superfoods. But exactly what is it?
It’s your old friend, just made better through a process first used in Asia thousands of years ago. Fermenting conventional bulbs of garlic at controlled high temperature and humidity, turns the cloves a distinctive black color. During the process, which takes three to four weeks, the garlic produces dark-colored melanoidin (what makes it black) in addition to its natural sugars and amino acids.
Black garlic began experiencing a revival in 2009 when American chefs started experimenting with it in recipes. Similar to roasted garlic in texture, its tangy flavor blends well with sauces and spreads, but if you’re like me, you may be especially excited about what the complex fermentation process does to garlic’s health potential…
Bigger, better benefits
Garlic has antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, boosts heart health and reduces inflammation. This ageing process only magnifies these already well-known health properties. With loads of probiotics, black garlic can also help stabilize the gut and strengthen the immune system.
Fresh garlic is packed with high concentrations of sulphur-containing compounds. “During the fermentation process, the compound allicine (which gives raw garlic its distinctive odor) is turned into s-allcystein,” explains registered nutritionist Robert Hobson from Britain. “This is water soluble, which means it is absorbed more quickly and easily by the body,” he adds. S-allcystein is found in greater concentrations in black garlic than white, which may help lower cholesterol levels. Black Garlic also helps the body to absorb the antimicrobial and antifungal agents that are commonly found in regular garlic.
Black garlic also contains twice the amount of antioxidants as white garlic. “Antioxidants are essential for our immune system as well as preventing and repairing damage to the body’s cells,” Robert says. “Black garlic may offer some protection against infections since it’s a natural antibiotic,” he adds.
Black garlic can also have a positive impact on blood pressure and circulation, and it could be useful in preventing diabetic complications.
Perhaps most exciting, though, is this news: Early studies indicate that black garlic could be a tool at some future point for preventing and treating colon cancer.
Goodbye garlic breath
There’s no smell (so no bad breath!), and it is said to have a sweet, subtle flavor. Nibble it raw, as part of a snack, or use it in cooking just as you would use white garlic. Black Garlic mixes well into sauces or different types of salad dressing and can be added to your favorite vegetable dips. In addition to cooking with black garlic, you can also get it in supplement form.
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