For centuries, Asian nations use black garlic for both medicinal and culinary purposes. In Thailand, black garlic is believed to promote longevity.
But the thing is, not a lot of people know about black garlic's incredible health perks. In fact, it was only in 2008 when it gained spotlight, becoming a sought-after ingredient in the world’s finest restaurants.
So, what is this black garlic fuss about, and can we really benefit from it aside from enjoying its complex yet sweet and syrupy taste?
Find out about the black garlic benefits, its culinary use, and how you can add it to your dishes for that extra flavor and character.
Black Garlic: Interesting Facts
The origin of black garlic has not yet been fully disclosed as many theories surround its roots. Various stories claim that Korean and Japanese families made black garlic for centuries, suggesting that it was only “rediscovered” for modern use.
In 2004, a Korean inventor denied that black garlic is an ancient Korean food, highlighting a patented device he created to make black garlic.
What is Black Garlic?
Black garlic is simply regular garlic that has been aged under certain humidity and warmth conditions. This “aging” process is what gives the black garlic its dark color.
The browning effect is attributed to the Maillard reaction, rather than caramelization.
This reaction not only browns the garlic but also gives it a new flavor: sweet and syrupy with hints of tamarind, balsamic vinegar, fried onions, and seared meat.
The most common way of making black garlic at home is by heating whole garlic bulbs over a span of three weeks.
These garlic bulbs are to be placed inside a rice cooker in a place where there is good ventilation (preferably by the window). You need to peel the garlic skin until the partitions of the cloves are revealed.
When this is done, the whole garlic bulbs must be placed in one layer inside the rice cooker. After closing the lid, you need to press the ‘Keep Warm’ button and leave it for 21 days.
It is essential to note that there are no other ingredients nor preservatives added when making black garlic. The color and flavor of the regular garlic are altered through the process of fermentation.
What are the Uses of Black Garlic?
Despite only entering the culinary mainstream recently, black garlic was used for its medicinal properties for centuries. Chinese mythology revealed that it has the ability to grant immortality to those who will consume it.
Other Asian countries such as Thailand and Korea also use black garlic due to its extensive health benefits, adding it to an array of products such as chocolates and energy drinks.
Black garlic was also the center of attention in recent years when it was used as a special ingredient in various TV programs and cooking competitions.
This paved the way for its entrance into dining tables and restaurant menus over the past few years.
Today, black garlic is used in various cuisines all over the world, valued not just for its excellent flavor but for its rich health benefits as well.
And if before it was only available in specialty stores, you can now make your own black garlic at home, too!
What are the Health Benefits of Black Garlic?
Black garlic contains disease-fighting compounds and phytonutrients that promote extensive health benefits. Below are some of the amazing black garlic health benefits:
Black garlic prevents free radical damage
Antioxidants are beneficial compounds for your health as they help regulate harmful free radicals to avoid cell damage and oxidative stress.
What’s more, antioxidant properties contained in certain foods and other cooking ingredients such as black garlic also help prevent the risk of various diseases such as diabetes, heart conditions, and even cancer.
A study revealed that black garlic contains these powerful antioxidants that help guard your body against free radical damage and illnesses.
Black garlic is found to meet its optimum antioxidant levels on the 21st day of its aging process.
Black garlic helps prevent cancer growth
The antioxidants contained in black garlic help fight the development of chronic diseases such as cancer.
This is because of the antioxidants’ ability to stop the buildup of free radicals to prevent cancer cells from growing and spreading in the body.
An in vitro study revealed that aged black garlic extract (ABGE) inhibited the growth of colon cancer cells, suggesting that it may be beneficial in preventing and treating this type of cancer in humans.
A similar study also discovered that ABGE also reduced the growth and spread of leukemic cells.
Black garlic promotes heart health
Garlic, in general, can help give you a healthy heart. Black garlic promotes heart health as well. In fact, several studies support claims that black garlic is just as potent as its regular counterpart.
An experiment conducted on laboratory rats compared the impact of raw garlic and black garlic consumption on heart health recovery.
The study found no significant difference, with researchers concluding that both types of garlic displayed cardioprotective effects.
Another research showed that black garlic reduced triglycerides (TG), total lipids, and cholesterol, helping to prevent the risk of heart disease.
Black garlic improves brain power
Like regular garlic, black garlic also promotes brain health.
Due to the antioxidant properties contained in black garlic, it helps to reduce inflammation and prevent cognitive conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.
A recent study discovered that black garlic improved the short-term memory of rats that are cognitively impaired, and also reduced neuroinflammation.
Another research revealed that black garlic prevented memory impairment following the administration of monosodium glutamate (MSG) in laboratory rats.
Black garlic helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels
High blood sugar levels can lead to detrimental health effects such as fatigue and frequent urination.
If not managed and addressed right away, it may even cause various health conditions such as skin infections, kidney dysfunction, diabetes, and even heart disease.
Black garlic consumption can help regulate blood sugar levels to keep it to its healthy rate.
This aged garlic apparently is not only able to lower triglycerides but blood cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels as well.
A separate study also revealed that black garlic may be beneficial in reducing the risk of diabetic complications.
Black garlic boosts immunity
A healthy immune system helps to get rid of infections, diseases, and other chronic conditions.
The antioxidants contained in black garlic prevent free radical damage, avoiding oxidative stress and illnesses caused by harmful free radicals.
A study evaluated if there are differences in the effects of raw and black garlic on immune function. It was revealed that black garlic exhibited stronger immunity stimulation compared to regular garlic.
These immune-boosting activities could benefit various health conditions from simple allergies to acute infections and autoimmune disorders.
How Can You Add Black Garlic to Your Diet?
Apparently, making your own black garlic is simpler than identifying its roots and origin. You’ll only need whole garlic bulbs and a rice cooker, and follow easy steps as we’ve discussed earlier.
Once you’ve successfully made your own black garlic at home, you’re ready to add it to your dishes!
Below are some simple ways on how to use black garlic so you can savor on its delicious flavor and enjoy the health benefits that come with it.
Add black garlic to savory dishes
Just like its regular counterpart, black garlic is fairly easy to add to your dishes. You can incorporate it into any dish where you would put roasted garlic.
It’s also a great flavor booster for savory meat dishes, dips, and sauces.
If you aren’t prepared yet to make your own black garlic at home, there’s no problem!
You can find online retailers that sell quality black garlic such as the RioRand YUHONGYUAN Organic-Grown Black Garlic.
It’s a perfect mix of sweet and savory and boasts of the extensive health benefits contained in black garlic.
Create a black garlic oil paste
You can likewise puree black garlic with olive oil to produce a black garlic oil paste. This paste can be used in crostini, marinades, and dressings.
Simply puree the garlic cloves with oil, then spread the paste over your crostini. You can also rub it on your fish, chicken or other meat before roasting.
Add it to your baked goods and desserts
If you’re a little more daring, you can add black garlic to your baked goods such as brownies and cookies or even attempt to make your own black garlic ice cream!
Sprinkle black garlic powder over any recipe
The easier way to add black garlic to your diet is through its powder form. You can buy this from major and online retailers.
Just sprinkle a dash of black garlic powder into just about any dish including casseroles, stews, and pasta dishes. You can use it in any meal that looks for depth and earthiness.
Homemade or purchased, there’s no stopping you from taking black garlic and enjoying its benefits for your health. There are also black garlic supplements available in the market today.