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Making a positive impact on your health doesn't always call for a dramatic diet or a big change in your lifestyle. There are also small, meaningful changes that you can make to start living a healthier, more holistic lifestyle.
One of those changes? Eating black garlic. Here are 9 reasons to start eating black garlic today.
First Thing's First: What Is Black Garlic?
Black garlic is a slightly heated, fermented, and aged version of raw garlic. It's created by heating fresh garlic (allium savitum) at 170 degrees Fahrenheit in a humidity-controlled room for 30 days. While it may seem fairly new to mainstream western consumers, it’s been a staple ingredient in many cultures for years.
Specifically, it's been consumed in South Korea, Japan, and Thailand for centuries. It also became a hot product for high-end chefs around 10 years ago.
There are many reasons to make black garlic:
To improve flavor
Raw garlic has a high amount of allicin, a sulfur compound responsible for its strong, pungent smell and intense taste. Fermenting it decreases the amount of allicin in fresh garlic, thereby making it sweeter, softer and much easier to consume.
To increase the bioavailability of nutrients
Creating black garlic changes the bulb's chemical composition (more on this later) and makes its nutrients easier to absorb.
To improve taste and texture
Black garlic is chewy and jelly-like, making it much easier to eat and cook with than fresh garlic.
It has more antioxidants and amino acids
In fact, many studies show that it has twice as many antioxidants as white garlic (more on this later, too).
Here are the health benefits of consuming black garlic
1. It will decrease pathogens
All fresh garlic contains health benefits, including antimicrobial, antibiotic, and antifungal properties. In raw garlic, these are largely due to the active ingredient allicin.
In black garlic, however, there are increased levels of S-allycysteine and S-allylmercaptocysteine. These compounds allow the body to better absorb allicin, meaning that they help you use the allicin to guard against viruses, bacteria, funguses, candida, and other unfriendly pathogens.
2. It decreases inflammation
Inflammation is at the heart of many persistent health conditions, including:
- Pulmonary disease
- Autoimmune disease
- High blood pressure, and
- Type 2 diabetes
Because it has twice as many antioxidants as fresh garlic, black garlic can improve these inflammatory conditions by fighting against free radicals. As a result, it can help resolve symptoms and guard against things like chronic disease, oxidative stress, and even leaky gut.
3. It decreases insulin resistance
Insulin resistance is a vicious cycle that many of us fall into by consuming a high-sugar modern diet. Here’s what happens: we consume way more sugar than we need on a day-to-day basis. As a result, our insulin levels are constantly higher than they should be (insulin shows up to help lower blood sugar). Our body doesn’t know how to react, so our cells start protecting against the insulin, aka they become insulin resistant.
Our cells need insulin to lower glucose levels, but they can no longer accept it. This causes ongoing issues and unhealthy blood sugar levels.
Black garlic can help. Specifically, it can reduce blood sugar and provide high bioactivity against obesity, hyperlipidemia, nephropathy, and hepatopathy.
In non-science terms? It can help improve diabetes and insulin resistance - related complications.
4. It will improve your immune system
We mentioned in our first point that black garlic has many health benefits and that it can help your body protect itself against pathogens. Well, a 2012 placebo-controlled study showed that it could also help stimulate and regulate immunity. This can help treat everything from allergies to acute infections and chronic disorders.
This can be seen, in particular, with acute allergic reactions. Strong allergy responses are activated by immunoglobulin E antibodies. They can cause a lot of discomfort and distress, including anaphylactic shock. Black garlic can lessen this response, decreasing the reaction and preventing associated damage.
5. It’s nutrient-rich
Black garlic has a lot of vitamins, minerals, antioxidant properties, and phytonutrients that aren't always available in fresh garlic. This is because, as we mentioned, many of the phytochemical compounds change during the fermentation process.
These physiochemical changes not only increase the bioactivity of black garlic but also give it several functions including:
- Antioxidative functions
- Antiallergic capabilities
- Anti-inflammatory effects, and
- Anticarcinogenic effects
6. It increases the bioavailability of nutrients
A lot of the garlic’s compounds become more functional during the fermentation process, meaning that the body can more readily absorb them and use them. As a result, consuming black garlic will give you more nutrients and more health benefits overall.
While exact percentages of phytonutrients vary based on the type of garlic and the manufacturing process, the reality is that these numbers are higher in fermented garlic than in fresh garlic.
Specifically, black garlic has increased:
- Polyphenols and free radical scavenging activity
- Antioxidant components
- Water-soluble sugars
- Amino acids
- Fiber and iron
8. Decreased risk of cancer
Several studies show that black garlic can significantly decrease the long-term risk of cancer by boosting the immune system and slowing the growth of cancerous cells. Specifically, one study showed that it could inhibit the growth of gastric cancer tumors. Another found that it could kill and reduce the growth of colon cancer cells. Even more strikingly, a third suggested that it could even kill leukemia cells - pretty powerful stuff.
9. Decrease risk of cardiovascular problems
Similarly, many studies have shown that black garlic can decrease the risk of many cardiovascular problems, including classic heart problems, plaquing, clotting, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Well, one study compared the effects of raw garlic and black garlic on heart health following damage. It found that both garlic varieties effectively helped minimize damage to the heart.
Another study on mice found that black garlic could improve serum lipid profiles such as total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, and HDL.
You can never go wrong when you incorporate garlic and other superfoods into your diet. Find the foods that work for you and get started today.