If you love garlic but haven’t yet tried the aged, black version, you’re in for a treat. As well as offering health benefits, its lovely, soft, savoury-sweet flavour with undertones of molasses and balsamic are socially acceptable for long-term users. It can be added to any savoury dish in place of raw white garlic, but add it towards the end of cooking for maximum effect. Once any garlic is heated for more than 3 minutes, its medicinal benefits are rapidly reduced and, after 10 minutes of heating, its ability to reduce platelet clotting is completely suppressed.
How Is It Made?
Black garlic is produced by naturally fermenting fresh garlic bulbs under controlled conditions of high temperature and humidity for at least 21 days. This converts unstable, volatile, smelly sulphurous compounds into stable, odourless substances. Five new amino acids are also generated, along with dark pigments (melanoidins) which turn the cloves black.
Aged black garlic has significantly greater antioxidant activity than non-fermented garlic, offering at least four times more antioxidant activity per gram (and the antioxidant capacity of raw garlic is already high). It therefore has the potential to offer greater therapeutic benefits.
Black garlic extracts increase the activity of circulating white blood cells in samples analysed in the laboratory. By increasing the proliferation and activity of these immune cells such as macrophages and natural killer cells, black garlic extracts may improve immune targeting of abnormal body cells. Cell studies also suggest that aged black garlic extracts can inhibit the growth of stomach cancer, colon cancer and leukaemia cells by triggering their natural self-destruct mechanism (apoptosis). These findings must be treated with caution but may suggest a useful preventative role if confirmed in human trials
Improves Cholesterol Balance
Black garlic improves cholesterol balance by increasing liver production of the ‘good’ HDL-cholesterol which protects against hardening and furring up of the arteries. A 12-week study compared the effects of black garlic extracts (6g per day divided into two doses taken before the morning and evening meal) against placebo in 60 volunteers with a mildly raised cholesterol. No significant differences were seen in LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol or triglycerides but ‘good’ HDL-cholesterol levels increased by an average of 7.45% to significantly lower the projected ten-year risk of heart attack or stroke. There is also increasing evidence that black garlic helps to reduce the accumulation of fat in liver cells, but this has not yet been confirmed in humans.
Black garlic may have additional beneficial biological effects similar to those of raw garlic, but research is in its early days and effects on blood clotting, blood pressure and arterial elasticity have not yet been confirmed. Even so, the growing evidence base may explain why many Eastern cultures revere black garlic as an anti-ageing supplement used, like ginseng and red reishi mushroom, to increase longevity.
A typical dose is 200mg concentrated extract, equivalent to 2g whole garlic. I now take black garlic supplements rather than garlic tablets and have started experimenting with its use in the kitchen. I guess I smell sweeter as a result!
Do you take garlic supplements, or have you already switched to black garlic?
Image credits: Isle of Wight Garlic Farm