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Black garlic

January 15, 2021
Properties and benefits of eating black garlic

Have you ever thought that you could eat natural garlic without feeling the pungent taste, strong breath, and pungent smell? All of this and more can be achieved with black garlic , a gourmet ingredient derived from white garlic that exhibits many of its healthy properties.

If this is the first time you’ve heard of black garlic, you may be surprised to learn that it is nothing new. This product of Asian origin has been used for centuries, not only for culinary purposes but also for medicinal purposes, hence it has aroused great interest among lovers of traditional medicine and researchers.

What is black garlic and how is it obtained?

Simply put, black garlic is nothing more than regular white garlic that has undergone a very special aging process.

Many are surprised to hear that the taste , color and the texture of the black garlic is obtained without the need to add any additives. These characteristics are the result of nothing more and nothing less than fermentation , a technique that has been around for thousands of years.

Bulbs are typically stored in chambers and subjected to very specific levels of temperature and humidity for 60-90 days; this time can be shortened or extended depending on the manufacturer, the desired product, and the particular garlic variety.

What is the color black?

Fresh garlic contains sugars, amino acids, and enzymes. Once the fermentation process begins, these elements begin to produce melanoidin, a substance whose color varies from light yellow to very dark brown , as seen in black garlic. The chemical reaction responsible for this change is known as the “Maillard reaction”1.

What does black garlic taste like? What are their characteristics?

The Maillard reaction not only causes changes in the color of the garlic, but also in its taste and texture. Thanks to it, black garlic acquires the following characteristics :

  • Aged garlic is considered by many to be wonderfully complex in flavor . It does not have the pungent, overpowering taste of raw garlic. Instead, it offers the perfect mix of sweet, caramel, salty, balsamic, and of course garlic flavors.
  • The meat of black garlic is tender, smooth, and causes a unique sensation, as if it were melting in your mouth.

The less aggressive taste of black garlic is directly associated with its reduced content of the compound allicin. 

Does black garlic also have healthy properties?

Many wonder if black garlic has the same healthy properties as white garlic. Although scientific evidence has found some differences, some believe it can be just as beneficial , if not more.

Going back in time to its origins, we see that black garlic has been highly valued since ancient times for its medicinal value. In fact, in Taoism mythology it was believed that black garlic guaranteed immortality. But what does science tell us today?

Since black garlic does not contain large amounts of allicin , the sulfur compound to which most of the properties of garlic are attributed , it was initially thought that this product would not be as beneficial as fresh garlic. However, more exhaustive research has found that, during the fermentation of garlic, allicin is transformed into other substances that are more bioactive for our body.

The aging process has been observed to transform allicin into other antioxidant compounds (alkaloids, flavonoids). These changes in the physico-chemical properties lead to a higher bioactivity of black garlic, compared to fresh white garlic.

Likewise, researchers have reported that black garlic has very high concentrations of S-Allyl-Cysteine (SAC), a widely studied organic compound that appears to have very favorable effects in the prevention and treatment of diseases such as diabetes and cancer.2.

Being a water soluble compound, S-Allyl-Cysteine ​​is very well absorbed in our body.

In general, current scientific evidence suggests that black garlic has properties3:

  • Antioxidants
  • Antidiabetics
  • Anticancerígenas
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antiallergic
  • Antiobesidad
  • Hepatoprotectoras
  • Immunostimulants

That is why its daily or regular consumption can have excellent health benefits.

Properties and benefits of eating black garlic

1. Combat oxidative damage in our body

As we mentioned before, the transformation of allicin during the fermentation process leads to a higher content of antioxidants in black garlic . So much so, that it doubles the antioxidant power of fresh garlic. Eating black garlic on a regular basis can be very helpful in fighting free radical damage and preventing the development of numerous diseases.

2. Helps prevent and fight cancer

This is one of the most promising benefits of black garlic. It has been observed that, thanks to its S-Allyl-Cysteine ​​content, this product can open a window in the treatment of various types of cancer (leukemia, gastric, colon, breast, lung cancer). Different studies have reported that the compounds in black garlic can not only inhibit the growth of cancer cells , but also cause their death.

3. Helps control diabetes

Like white garlic, black garlic has antidiabetic activity. S-allyl cysteine ​​has been reported to exert a hypoglycemic effect through stimulation of insulin production, as well as interference with glucose absorption from the diet4 5 . This, together with its antioxidant capacity, makes black garlic a highly recommended ingredient for diabetic people.

4. Combat obesity and promote weight loss

Different findings indicate that black garlic offers numerous benefits when it comes to fighting obesity. Researchers have referred to a significant reduction in body weight , abdominal fat , cholesterol and triglyceride levels . Although more human studies are needed, it is considered that the consumption of black garlic can be very favorable for people who are obese or who are overweight. Keep in mind that obesity is a major risk factor for developing other long-term diseases, for example type 2 diabetes, heart disease, respiratory problems, gout, and liver disease.6.

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5. Helps protect liver health

The high antioxidant power of black garlic also seems to promote proper liver function. Its compounds promote greater elimination of toxins , the healing of liver injuries and the prevention of conditions such as fatty liver and chronic liver disease caused by alcohol abuse.

6. Offers anti-inflammatory protection to the body

Although the anti-inflammatory effect appears to be greater in white garlic than in black garlic, it also exhibits some ability to fight inflammation naturally . Eating a diet rich in foods of this type can help us prevent chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer, among others7.

7. Promotes the prevention of allergies

Another very interesting benefit that is attributed to the consumption of black garlic is the reduction of the risk of suffering from allergies. Some studies in rodents have reported that the administration of ethyl acetate extract obtained from black garlic inhibits the release of certain key markers ( beta-hexosaminidase , TNF-α ) associated with allergic responses.8.

8. Protects vascular health

There is some evidence that, thanks to its strong antioxidant activity, black garlic decreases oxidative stress that leads to vascular inflammation , affects the inner wall of blood vessels, and causes atherosclerosis, a chronic disease of the arteries. Likewise, it is believed that it can help prevent the risk of deep vein thrombosis9 . More studies are still needed to understand and evaluate these mechanisms of action.

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How to use black garlic?

The good news is that black garlic is just as versatile as fresh garlic . You can use it in most of your recipes. Its soft, slightly chewy texture and balsamic-sweet flavor combine perfectly in dressings, vinaigrettes, cheese dishes, meat marinades, pizzas, pasta, salads, etc.

While the bulbs are in an unopened package, black garlic can be stored at room temperature, but once opened it is recommended to store it in the refrigerator (it can keep good for up to 1 month ).

Although there is no recommended daily amount , maintaining a consumption of 2-3 bulbs of black garlic per day can be enough to enjoy the exquisite flavor and obtain its most important properties.

It should be noted that aged black garlic bulbs are not the only form of consumption to consider. Currently black garlic is also available in powder (capsules) and in extract. Although these formulations can be used as a dietary supplement, eating the fermented bulb unprocessed is still the best option to take advantage of the benefits of black garlic .

Can I make my own black garlic at home?

Yes. Although there is no single recipe to make black garlic , here we suggest an effective variant to make it at home.

You will need to:

  • A rice cooker
  • Several heads of fresh garlic (it should be good quality garlic, preferably organic)

Steps:

  1. The first step is to  remove the outermost layers of the skin that covers the fresh garlic (only 1 or 2 layers); the bulbs must be well protected and the teeth completely united.
  2. Wrap the garlic heads in aluminum foil, place them inside the rice cooker and close with a lid.
  3. Connect the rice cooker to electricity but do not press the “Cook” button. Just leave it on the ” Keep Warm ” option . That’s it. It is recommended to write the date on a piece of tape and stick it to the lid of the pot; this way you will be able to remember when you started the fermentation process. Note : It is very important to avoid high temperatures. Otherwise, the Maillard reaction will not occur and what you will get is a dried or burned garlic. If possible, place the rice cooker in a ventilated area of ​​the house.
  4. Now you just have to  wait a minimum of 3 weeks . This is the hard part, but make sure no one removes or opens the lid during that time.
  5. After 21 days you can turn off the pot, remove the bulbs and enjoy a delicious homemade black garlic , with an intense flavor and creamy texture. You can include it in numerous recipes, from rice dishes, pasta and sauces, to pizzas, stews, soups and salads.

Are there contraindications or side effects?

Black garlic is considered a safe food for the vast majority of people. Since it is a milder type of garlic, many prefer it as an alternative to white garlic , as it does not leave a strong smell on the breath or cause digestive irritation . However, its consumption may be contraindicated or cause adverse effects in some cases.

In general, allergy sufferers who cannot eat white garlic should also not consume black garlic. It is also contraindicated in people who have surgery in the near future or who have recently had surgery; it could increase the risk of bleeding.

When to expect side effects?

  • In case of excessive consumption . Large doses of black garlic can result in excess gas, diarrhea, vomiting, heartburn, and other gastrointestinal complaints.
  • In case of drug interaction . Garlic is known to interact with certain medications, especially anti-coagulants (increased risk of bleeding).

Continue reading about the subject at:

References:

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/maillard-reaction
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/s-allyl-cysteine
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1021949816301727
  4. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acs.jafc.6b04948
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/250272204_Effect_of_Garlic_and_Aged_Black_Garlic_on_Hyperglycemia_and_Dyslipidemia_in_Animal_Model_of_Type_2_Diabetes_Mellitus
  6. https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/obesity-health-risks#1
  7. https://www.webmd.com/diet/anti-inflammatory-diet-road-to-good-health#1
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3901385/
  9. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281663269_Antioxidation_antimicrobial_and_antithrombosis_activities_of_aged_black_garlic_Allium_sativum_L

My name is Louise Hammond, and I am the creator of this website, a place to find information about tubers, bulbs and medicinal roots. In Dreamsship.com I show the properties, benefits, characteristics, photos and images, ways of growing and how to make delicious meals from starchy vegetables.