The Health Benefits Of Black Garlic

Black garlic bulbs on a white background
Black garlic bulbs. Photo by AWSS.

Black garlic offers a culinary experience which is very different from raw or cooked garlic and is increasing in popularity as an ingredient. It’s a South Korean speciality where raw garlic (Allium sativum) is fermented for just over a month. Fermentation converts the pungent flavours into something far sweeter, with raisin or sultana notes and overtones of balsamic vinegar. Heating to 70 °C in a high humidity cooker (90% rel. humidity) simply promotes this process reducing the garlic note to a level that makes it palatable to those not wishing to experience garlic breath.

The unique aging process activates various bioactive compounds which include antioxidants suich as polyphenols, melanoidins and flavonoids.

Many people in the Far East have enjoyed considerable health benefits from this type of garlic.

Black garlic cloves and bulbs on a white background.
Black garlic. Photo by FoodWrite.

 

Product Development

Nutritionally, it’s understood to contain more antioxidants per gram than ordinary garlic, with the development of more S-allylcysteine, which is a key sulphur based compound, claimed to prevent cancer (Shukla and Kalra, 2007; Jang et al., 2008). Much has been written about garlic generally but there is still much that is unknown about its fermented brother.

I noticed back at IFE 2013, a number of applications for this garlic in a variety of savoury dishes, using its umami sensory enhancements. The exhibitors thought its sweetness and texture could be extended to applications in various mixes – I tried a trail mix example and snack bars. It didn’t appear to lend itself to sweeter products as chocolate and garlic have never really mixed well.

Heart Protection With Black Garlic

A study in animals indicates that a black garlic extract which is aged could help with maintaining cardiovascular performance, lipid management and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. 

The extract contains S-allyl-cysteine (SAC) and polyphenols which are all generated and potentiated during fermentation.

This study was done at the Autonomous University of Madrid. The research is published in the journal Nutrients. In this study, the animals were given an aged black garlic extract (ABG10+ from Pharmactive Biotech Products). Consumption produced a 22% reduction in circulating levels of low-denisity lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-Cholestrol). This type of cholesterol is associated with the formation of atheroma plaque formation. The researchers also saw an increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) which is ‘good’ cholesterol’, rising by by 46%, while improving the overall HDL/LDL ratio by 70%.

What other benefits were there ? Well, researchers also noticed the ABG10+ treatment led to a lower body weight, lower triglyceride levels as in lower triglyceraemia, lower leptin and insulin levels in blood serum and the agent also attenuated vasoconstriction because it reduced inflammation. All these benefits were compared to a control placebo. Leptins are hormones involved in stimulating appetite which might explain why black garlic, in helping to lower the levels of this hormone, can help with weight loss.

Revision: 22nd April 2020. New evidence for heart benefits from consuming black garlic.

References

Amor, S.; González-Hedström, D.; Martín-Carro, B.; Inarejos-García, A.M.; Almodóvar, P.; Prodanov, M.; García-Villalón, A.L.; Granado, M. (2019) Beneficial Effects of an Aged Black Garlic Extract in the Metabolic and Vascular Alterations Induced by a High Fat/Sucrose Diet in Male Rats. Nutrients  11, 153 (Article).

Jang, E.K., Seo, J.H., Lee, S.P., (2008) Physiological Activity and Antioxidative Effects of Aged Black Garlic (Allium sativum L.) Extract. Kor. J. Food Sci. Technol. 40(4) pp. 443-448

Shukla Y and Kalra N (2007). Cancer chemoprevention with garlic and its constituents. Cancer Lett, 247 pp. 167– 181.

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