What is Black Garlic and why is it black?
The history of Black Garlic stems from Asia. Black Garlic is the highest quality garlic that has been aged by a process of the perfect mix of heat and humidity causing the garlic to ferment. The garlic is roasted at a low heat for anywhere between 30 – 60 days to attain perfection. Black Garlic is a completely natural product. This means no food colouring, no soy sauce (yes it’s gluten free) and no preservatives. The black colour of the garlic occurs naturally as the sugars are drawn out of the garlic during the process of slow roasting. The green pungent flavours of fresh garlic are gone but the garlic essence remains.
Black Garlic is the perfect mix of sweet/savoury deepened by the flavours of molasses with balsamic, caramel and tamarind undertones but retaining the garlic essence. The texture is soft and chewy and melts in your mouth.
The health benefits of Black Garlic
Though not as well known as its white counterpart, black garlic is enjoying a rise in popularity in culinary circles and the alternative medicine field. The health benefits of black garlic are being touted by natural medicine practitioners and herbalists.
Cancer Protection and Cholesterol Benefits
The month-long fermentation process in creating black garlic contributes to creating a kind of super-garlic. The compound S-allylcysteine, a natural component of fresh garlic and a derivative of the amino acid cysteine, was found in much greater concentrations in black garlic, and is thought to help lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of cancer.
White garlic contains anti-microbial, antibiotic and anti-fungal agents in its active ingredient, allicin. In black garlic, S-allylcysteine assists with the absorption of allicin, helping it metabolize more easily which could offer boosted protection against infections.
Garlic is also high in antioxidants. Black garlic has been found to have twice the antioxidant properties of conventional garlic. Antioxidants protect the cells from disease and are thought to slow down the aging process, according to OrganicAuthority.com. Because black garlic is so potent, the heightened levels of antioxidants offering protection from free radical damage make it an ideal food for thwarting chronic disease. Free radicals damage cells leading to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, circulatory problems, rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic diseases.
Science behind the health buzz
A number of laboratory and animal studies suggest aged garlic contains plant compounds that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity that might lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.
According to a 2001 review written by Carmia Borek, Ph.D., in The Journal of Nutrition, aged garlic has unique sulfur compounds, produced during the aging process, that provide higher antioxidant activity than fresh garlic. Borek reported in the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients in 2004, “Aged garlic extract provides the health benefits of fresh garlic and often improves upon it.”
Borek stresses the need for additional human studies to further understand how aged garlic can protect human health. One new controlled trial involving 50 patients was published in October 2010 in the journal, Maturitas. In the group that received aged garlic extract daily for 12 weeks, systolic blood pressure was lowered among patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure.