Garlic is one of the most potent superfoods around – this amazing bulb has been found to possess a wide range of antioxidants, notable benefits for heart health, and even shows promise in playing an important role in today’s epidemic of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
With the growing popularity of aged garlic, also known as black garlic, in the Western world, many may question whether it is just a gimmick, or if it has enhanced disease-fighting properties. Does black garlic have “superpowers?” The answer is, in some cases, perhaps, but it depends what you are using it for.
As we have reported, garlic itself – regular, white garlic – is extraordinarily healthy. It contains a compound known as allicin, which has potent antibacterial properties. In addition, garlic has been found to contain 39 different antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal compounds. Due to these properties, it may help to fight antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” that do not respond to standard medications.
Black garlic, which hails from Korea, is simply garlic that has been aged at a specific temperature for a month, and then allowed to oxidize. This process turns the garlic black, and gives it a softer consistency. The flavor of the garlic is also transformed – the strong smell and taste are muted, and instead it has a sweet and somewhat salty flavor.
The aging process that black garlic undergoes leads to a transformation of its antioxidant compounds. According to natural health expert, Dr. Joseph Mercola, certain antioxidants, including anticarcinogenic sulfur compounds, become more concentrated in black garlic.
A 2013 mouse study published in BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine found links between black garlic and a reduction in the cognitive detriments of neurological illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease.
The reduced pungency and softer texture of black garlic also make it softer on the digestive system. However, the one notable downside of black garlic is that it has a low concentration of allicin compared to fresh garlic. Therefore, the antimicrobial properties of this garlic – at least those that come from the allicin – may be much less impactful.
So, while it is worth it to experiment with black garlic in your recipes, and to talk to a natural health professional you trust about its therapeutic value, don’t turn away from fresh garlic – the presence of allicin is an important benefit not to be missed.