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The Health Benefits of a Surprising Food: Black Garlic

 You are no doubt aware that garlic is a very handy, tasty, and healthy plant. But have you ever heard of black garlic? This caramelized product derives from Asia, where it's used for its health and culinary benefits. Given that black garlic has twice the antioxidant level of normal white garlic, it’s not surprising that people in the west are also getting excited about the potential health benefits of black garlic – especially since it won’t even give you bad breath. Amazing!
 
How Black Garlic Is Made
black garlic, food, health

Black garlic is often thought to be a fermented product, but this is not so. The process involves no microbial action of any kind, and is instead brought about through the Maillard reaction, which involves steeping white garlic bulbs in a humidity-controlled environment for 30 days at a temperature of between 140 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit.


Once the bulbs are removed from the heat, they are placed in a clean room to naturally oxidize for a further 45 days. Then the garlic, which naturally contains sugars and amino acids, produces melanoidin – a dark substance which colors the bulbs jet black. The process results in the garlic becoming softer and chewier. The normal pungency and spiciness is replaced by a gentler taste somewhere between balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and prune juice. Even those who hate garlic will like black garlic.

 

Black garlic’s health benefits derive from the plant’s high concentrations of sulfurous compounds, like s-allycysteine (SAC), which derives from the amino acid cysteine and may help lower levels of cholesterol.


According to nutritionist Robert Hobson, s-allcysteine is water soluble, “which means it is absorbed more quickly and easily by the body.” The substance is made during the lengthy process described above, and is the result of the compound’s transformation from allicine, the element that makes garlic smell so strongly.

Black Garlic’s Health Benefits
Black garlic contains double the number of antioxidants as white garlic, which is great news since antioxidants are necessary for stopping and repairing damage to our body’s cells. Antioxidants are also vital for our immune system’s proper functioning, according to Robert. Other health benefits gained from black garlic include the following:

•    A positive impact on blood pressure and circulation, according to Robert Hobson.

•    Lowered cholesterol levels.

•    SAC inhibits cholesterol synthesis, according to a study by Pennsylvania State University.

•    Offers protection against infections as a natural antibiotic.

Adding Black Garlic to Your Diet

Black garlic has a distinctly Asian sweet and savory quality. Its texture is tender and somewhat jelly-like. The really good news is that it leaves no smell behind. Making it a great addition to a meal (or snack) since it won’t cause bad breath. You can also purchase black garlic in the form of a supplement.

 

Cover image courtesy of Depositphotos

H/T: nutritionexpert.healthspan.co.uk

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