7 Amazing Benefits of Black Garlic

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Adding black garlic to certain dishes gives it a unique profile, but there are also some impressive health benefits to this special culinary ingredient.

What is Black Garlic?

Black garlic is a caramelized form of garlic, but it isn’t easy to produce. Recently growing in popularity in the west, this means of preparing garlic has been present in other countries for centuries. Black garlic is primarily made by exposing unpeeled garlic to extended periods of heat and humidity – sometimes up to 40 days! This causes some of the compounds in regular garlic to break down, particularly those that give garlic such a spicy taste. When these compounds break down over time, they provide the garlic with a more savory flavor, reminiscent of cooked meat or onions, but there is also a sweet element that appears when prepared properly. [1]

This form of garlic has some nutritional differences from traditional garlic and is widely used in high-end cooking applications. Due to the difficulty in producing it and the subsequent cost, it isn’t the most common ingredient to find on a spice shelf, but it does provide a number of unique health benefits. People consume black garlic by itself, ground into a powder, infused in oil, added to vegetable dishes and when minced into sauces or glazes. The flavor of black garlic is highly muted, in comparison to white garlic, so a rather large amount is needed to make an impact in most dishes. The heating process also increases the concentration of allicin and also boosts S-allyl cysteine levels, which improves the bioavailability of allicin, the active ingredient in garlic. [2]

Whole and halved black garlic in a white dish on wood

Purée black garlic cloves with oil and then smear the paste on crostini for a delicious appetizer. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Health Benefits of Black Garlic

The most notable health benefits of black garlic include its ability to protect against chronic disease, boost immunity, help to prevent cancer, regulate diabetes, and boost heart health, among others.

Anticancer Potential

Black garlic extract has shown anti-proliferative effects in research conducted by a couple of Chinese researchers. It shows that this extract is able to inhibit gastric cancer cell growth. [3]

One more study shows that black garlic extracts have the potential to slow the growth of lung cancer cells. However, more accurate studies are required for determining the use of garlic in a cancer-preventive diet. [4]

Helps Manage Diabetes

With higher concentrations of allicin than regular garlic, black garlic is even more effective at regulating blood sugar levels, as per a study published in the Academic Journal in 2009. The active ingredients in this herb can help to slow the release of insulin into the body, which is important for diabetic patients and those who are at high risk of developing this condition. [5]

Improves Cardiovascular Health

One of the amino acids found in our body, homocysteine, can actually damage blood vessels walls and compromise out cardiovascular health. Studies have found that black garlic is very good at reducing the levels of homocysteine in the blood, subsequently helping to protect our heart health. [6]

Boosts Immunity

Garlic is famous for its impact on the immune system, and the same thing is true of black garlic. It is known to boost the immune system’s strength and prevent a number of common bacterial and viral infections. It is particularly good for cleaning out the digestive tract and respiratory systems. [7]

Defends Against Chronic Disease

Allicin is one of the most powerful antioxidants you can add to your diet, and black garlic has even higher concentrations than its uncooked cousin. If you want to boost your defenses against chronic disease and oxidative stress, you should add this toasted spice to your weekly diet. [8]

Improves Circulation

Garlic has been linked to increased circulation by producing hydrogen sulfide, but its sulfuric compounds are also known to help regulate blood pressure and ensure resource and oxygen delivery to the body’s extremities. [9]

Increases Libido

Some cultures have traditionally used both white garlic and black garlic to stimulate sex drive in men, in particular, and the metabolism-boosting properties of this herb’s antioxidants could have an impact on blood flow, energy levels and other factors critical to sexual activity.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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