Black garlic is an ancient ingredient — it was apparently first made in Korea, as much as 4,000 years ago — that is back in style with food-lovers and nutritionists alike.
Chefs are taking advantage of its tangy, subtle flavor to add a savory elegance to their dishes; black garlic is similar to roasted garlic in texture, making it easy to blend into sauces and spreads. Scientists, meanwhile, have discovered that it has many health benefits not found in its already healthy white kin.
The visually stunning, onyx-colored cloves start life as heads of conventional garlic. The heads are subjected to a three-week aging process, where the bulbs sit in humid conditions and low heat and are eventually caramelized, transformed by the same Maillard reaction that gives browned meat its deep flavor. The sugars and amino acids produce melanoidin in the process, turning the garlic black.
The aging process amplifies garlic’s traditional health properties, which include fighting a cold, reducing blood pressure, and detoxifying the body of excess metals; but black garlic is a superfood that’s capable of even more.
It Is High in Antioxidants
A 2009 study, titled “Antioxidant effect of garlic and aged black garlic in animal model of type 2 diabetes mellitus,” found that black garlic had higher levels of antioxidants than its white counterpart, and that it could be used to prevent diabetic complications. Antioxidants protect the integrity of cells and have been linked to delaying signs of aging.
It Lowers Cholesterol
Black garlic contains high concentrations of the compound S-allylcysteine, which has been found to lower cholesterol levels. "During the fermentation process, the compound allicine (which gives raw garlic its distinctive odour) is turned into s-allcysteine,” nutritionist Robert Hobson said. Additional research also found decreased levels of lipids and cholesterol in rats that were fed a diet of black garlic.
It Might Help Prevent Colon Cancer
A growing pool of evidence is showing that black garlic can be used to prevent various cancers. A 2014 study from Spandidos Publications found that aged black garlic extract inhibited the growth of a pathway crucial to the development of colon cancer, suggesting that aged black garlic extract could possibly be used in the prevention and treatment of colon cancer in the future.