What is Black Garlic? Learn about the benefits of black garlic, how to make it, and how to integrate it into a healthy diet
Black garlic is rich in many nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, protein, fiber, iron, and zinc. It also contains essential amino acids that can only be obtained from food, such as Isoleucine, lysine, leucine, and tryptophan.
What is Black Garlic?
Black garlic is aged garlic. It is made by slowly heating the bulbs of garlic over several weeks. The browning of the cloves occurs due to the chemical reaction between amino acids and the reduced sugars in the garlic, also known as the Maillard reaction.
Black garlic has been consumed for centuries in many Asian countries, such as Korea, Thailand, and Japan. In 2004, it was “rediscovered” when Scott Kim, a Korean inventor declared black garlic was “the next big superfood.” Black garlic is sweeter than white garlic, thanks in part to the heating process that brings out its natural sugars.
How to Make Black Garlic
There are several ways to make black garlic. For example, one method involves using a fermenting box, while others opt for a rice cooker or slow cooker as described below:
- Gently remove dirt from garlic bulbs with a clean, dry sponge (preferably new and unused). Wetting the bulbs will disrupt the aging/cooking process.
- Set the cooker on the low setting.
- Place bulbs into the cooker. (Make sure they are not touching).
- Allow bulbs to cook on the low setting for 2-3 weeks until black and soft.
Note: Periodically check the cooker to make sure it has not turned off during the heating process.
Black garlic can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 months, and is often consumed in a variety of ways:
Black Garlic Oil
Black garlic oil can be used in dressings and applied to fish or chicken before baking or roasting.
- Mix 2 cloves of black garlic with ¼ cup of oil into a paste.
- Pour into a small saucepan, adding an additional 1/4 cup of oil.
- Simmer on very low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and let cool at room temperature.
- Pour contents in a blender and mix for 60 seconds.
Black Garlic Aioli (Mayo)
Black garlic aioli is often used with many popular dishes: hamburgers, salmon, crab cakes, fish tacos, grilled chicken, avocado, french fries, and many others.
- Mash 2 cloves of black garlic in a bowl with a fork
- Add ½ cup of soy-free mayonnaise
- Blend thoroughly and serve
Black Garlic Powder
Black garlic powder can be added to red meat, sprinkled onto stir fry dishes, mixed into mayonnaise, or added onto garlic bread.
- Remove skin, cut into small pieces
- Place on a dehydrator rack
- Set at low temperature (approximately 139 degrees for 36 hours)
- Add a small amount of corn starch and place in a blender
- Store in an air-tight container
Black Garlic Sauce
Black garlic sauce id often used on steamed veggies, beef and chicken.
- 10 cloves black garlic (peeled)
- ¼ cup milk (coconut)
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
Place garlic, ginger and lemongrass in blender on the “food processor” setting. Add the remaining ingredients until mixed. Add more water to reach desired consistency.
Black Garlic Ketchup
Burgers, chicken and dips for chips are popular ways to consume black garlic ketchup.
- Black garlic clove
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 can tomato paste (6 ounces)
- 1 pinch allspice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place black garlic on a tray covered with aluminum foil. Add olive oil, then place inside the foil. Bake for 45 minutes, remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes.
Once cooled, unwrap and remove the garlic and separate the cloves and place on a dish. Mash with a fork until smooth. When smooth, place in a small saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Put in jar and place in refrigerator when cooled.
Black Garlic Salt
Black garlic salt can be used as a replacement for table salt.
- Mix one part black garlic powder with three parts of sea salt.
Black Garlic Benefits
Like traditional garlic, black garlic has many nutritional benefits. Research on black garlic has yielded the following results:
Antioxidants protect cells from free radicals that can be hazardous to a person’s health. Oxidation is believed to play a factor in many ailments, such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
A recent study focused on 2 groups of mice that were fed a high-fat diet. One group was given black garlic extract with their meals, while the other was not given anything. Researchers found the group given black garlic extract with their meals had lower glucose, plasma insulin, and insulin resistance levels than those who weren’t given black garlic.1
A side-by-side comparison of black garlic versus its white counterpart found it to have “the highest antioxidant and antimicrobial activities.” Researchers also noted its effect on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus virus.2
Inflammation is the body’s way of protecting itself from bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders. Unfortunately, the body can turn on itself, attacking its own tissues. This can lead to various autoimmune diseases.
Research on black garlic indicates it may be effective against autoimmune disorders such as dermatitis, which is inflammation of the skin. A recent study details how black garlic extract inhibited the formation of interleukin-6 and nitric monoxide in mice, key contributors to causing dermatitis.5
When compared to fresh garlic, black garlic showed higher anti-inflammatory activity than the fresh variety. Researchers believe this may be due to the lesser amount of sugars in the black garlic. The higher levels of galactose, glucose, fructose or sucrose in fresh garlic slightly decreased its anti-inflammatory activity.6
Cognitive functions include a variety of mental processes, such as memory, comprehension, perception, decision making, and comprehension. As people age, they may be at risk for mild cognitive impairment, or in more severe cases, dementia. This may include a reduction in any of the mental processes as described above. Research on black garlic and cognitive decline have yielded the following results:
Studies indicate aged garlic and its antioxidant properties may improve cognitive impairment. Researchers concluded black garlic “possess a wide range of beneficial activities for neurodegenerative disorders, notable Alzheimer’s disease.”7
A study on rats found that aged garlic improved their short term memory, and stimulated a significant reduction in the inflammatory response often seen in cognitive decline. Researchers found the aged garlic results were similar to rats who were treated with Celebrex, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.8
The cardiovascular system is comprised of the heart, blood, and blood vessels. It transports nutrients, oxygen, and hormones to the cells, while simultaneously removing wastes such as carbon dioxide from the body. Heart attack, heart failure, heart disease, and abnormal heart rhythm are the most common forms of cardiovascular disease.
Fresh garlic is reported to have many cardiovascular benefits. Recent studies on black garlic show potential benefits as well:
The high levels of antioxidants in black garlic have shown to improve the quality of life and left-ventricular ejection fraction in chronic heart failure patients with chronic heart disease.9
Each cell in the human body contains cholesterol. This wax-like substance assists in making hormones and digesting food. Too much cholesterol can build up on the walls of arteries, increasing a person’s risk of having heart disease.
Black garlic has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. In a study using several groups of rats, those who were fed a high-fat diet and given a black garlic extract saw “significantly lower values” in total lipids, cholesterol, and triglycerides than test subjects who were not given black garlic extract.10
Immune System Benefits.
A healthy immune system is the first line of defense against illness and disease. Studies on black garlic indicate it can enhance the functioning of the immune system by stimulating the production of macrophages, lymphocytes, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells. Researchers also believe a properly functioning immune system “can contribute to the treatment and prevention of pathologies such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disorders, gastric ulcer, and even cancer.”11
Black Garlic Nutrition
Like fresh garlic, black garlic has many nutritional benefits. In addition to the nutrients listed previously, t is considered an excellent source of the following nutrients: manganese, vitamin B1, B6, vitamin C, vitamin C, copper, selenium, phosphorus, and calcium.
Black Garlic vs White Garlic
When compared side by side, black garlic has several nutritional advantages over white garlic:
|Nutrient||Black Garlic (100 g)||White Garlic (100 g)|
|Protein||14.2 g||6.4 g|
|Carbohydrate||39.8 g||1.0 g|
|Potassium||930 mg||401 mg|
|Zinc||1.4 mg||1.2 mg|
|Calcium||13 mg||181 mg|
|Vitamin B1||0.0002 g||0.0007 g|
|Water||33.6 g||58.6 g|
|Fat||0.3 g||0.5 g|
|Calories||219 kcal||149 kcal|
|Magnesium||52 mg||25.0 mg|
|Iron||2.1 mg||1.7 mg|
|Amino Acids||Black Garlic||White Garlic|
|Arginine||558 mg||634 mg|
|Aspartic Acid||1020 mg||489 mg|
|Glysine||697 mg||200 mg|
|Serine||458 mg||190 mg|
|Cystine||223 mg||65 mg|
|Leucine||779 mg||308 mg|
|Methionine||210 mg||76 mg|
|Valine||610 mg||291 mg|
|Alanine||714 mg||132 mg|
|Proline||544 mg||100 mg|
|Tyrosine||292 mg||81 mg|
|Lysine||385 mg||273 mg|
|Tryptophan||102 mg||66 mg|
Black Garlic Recipes
Garlic can be added to dishes in a variety of creative ways. Here are two recipes as an example:
- Black Garlic Vinaigrette:
- 1 head of black garlic (remove from peel and chopped)
- 1 small clove of fresh garlic (minced)
- 1 tbsp. shallot (finely chopped)
- 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp mustard
- ½ tbsp. agave nectar
- 6 tbsp. olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine fresh garlic, black garlic, and shallot in a blender and blend finely.
Add vinegar, red wine, agave nectar, and mustard. Continue blending.
- Add olive oil to the mix, blending until smooth. Add salt and pepper for seasoning. (Add more olive oil if needed for desired texture).
- It can be used immediately or stored in a refrigerator for 7 days.
- Creamy Cheese Black Garlic Dip
- 2 cloves of black pepper (peeled and chopped)
- 1 tub of cream cheese
- 1 small pot of sour cream
- 1 tablespoon of creamed horseradish (can be less according to taste preferences)
- 3 tablespoons of fresh chives (snipped)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place all ingredients (minus the horseradish, chives, salt, and pepper) into a blender or food processor.
- Blend until smooth, then add salt, pepper, and horseradish.
- Stir in snipped chives and serve.
Even though it has been consumed for centuries, black garlic is making a resurgence among those who are looking for natural ways to improve their health. Black garlic is high in nutrients and has many health benefits. Studies indicate it may have more of a nutritional benefit than the fresh garlic varieties. By adding black garlic to their diets, a person may spice up some of their favorite meals, as well as give their bodies an extra nutritional boost. Give black garlic a try, your body might thank you.
- Ha AW, Kim WK. Antioxidant Mechanism Of Black Garlic Extract Involving Nuclear Factor Erythroid 2-Like Factor 2 Pathway. Nutr Res Pract. 2017 Jun;11(3):206-213. doi: 10.4162/nrp.2017.11.3.206. Epub 2017 Apr 6. Erratum in: Nutr Res Pract. 2017 Aug;11(4):347. [PMID: 28584577]; PMCID: PMC5449377. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5449377/
- Botas J, Fernandes Â, Barros L. A Comparative Study Of Black And White Allium Sativum L.: Nutritional Composition And Bioactive Properties. Molecules. 2019 Jun 11;24(11):2194. doi: 10.3390/molecules24112194. [PMID: 31212722]; PMCID: PMC6600231.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6600231/
- Dong M, Yang G, Liu H(et al). Aged Black Garlic Extract Inhibits HT29 Colon Cancer Cell Growth Via The PI3K/Akt Signaling Pathway. Biomed Rep. 2014 Mar;2(2):250-254. doi: 10.3892/br.2014.226. Epub 2014 Jan 20. [PMID: 24649105]; PMCID: PMC3917757.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3917757/
- Wang, X., Jiao, F., Wang,(et al). (2012). Aged black garlic extract induces inhibition of gastric cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo. Molecular Medicine Reports, 5(1), pp. 66-72. doi:10.3892/mmr.2011.588 https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/21922142/abstract/Aged_black_garlic_extract_induces_inhibition_of_gastric_cancer_cell_growth_in_vitro_and_in_vivo_
- You BR, Yoo JM, Baek SY, Kim MR. Anti-Inflammatory Effect Of Aged Black Garlic On 12-O-Tetradecanoylphorbol-13-Acetate-Induced Dermatitis In Mice. Nutr Res Pract. 2019 Jun;13(3):189-195. doi: 10.4162/nrp.2019.13.3.189. Epub 2019 Mar 29. [PMID: 31214286]; PMCID: PMC6548713.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6548713/
- Jeong YY, Ryu JH, Shin JH, Kang MJ. Comparison of Anti-Oxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects between Fresh and Aged Black Garlic Extracts. Molecules. 2016 Mar 30;21(4):430. doi: 10.3390/molecules21040430. [PMID: 27043510]; PMCID: PMC6274159.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27043510-comparison-of-anti-oxidant-and-anti-inflammatory-effects-between-fresh-and-aged-black-garlic-extracts/
- Jeong, J.H., Jeong, H.R., Jo, Y.N. et al. Ameliorating Effects Of Aged Garlic Extracts Against Aβ-Induced Neurotoxicity And Cognitive Impairment. BMC Complement Altern Med 13, 268 (2013).https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-13-268https://bmccomplementmedtherapies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-13-268
- Nillert N, Pannangrong W, Welbat JU, (Et al). Neuroprotective Effects of Aged Garlic Extract on Cognitive Dysfunction and Neuroinflammation Induced by β-Amyloid in Rats. Nutrients. 2017 Jan 3;9(1):24. doi: 10.3390/nu9010024. [PMID: 28054940]; PMCID: PMC5295068.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5295068/
- Liu J, Zhang G, Cong X, Wen C. Black Garlic Improves Heart Function in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease by Improving Circulating Antioxidant Levels. Front Physiol. 2018 Nov 1;9:1435. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01435. [PMID: 30443217]; PMCID: PMC6221913.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6221913/
- Ha AW, Ying T, Kim WK. The Effects Of Black Garlic (Allium Satvium) Extracts On Lipid Metabolism In Rats Fed A High Fat Diet. Nutr Res Pract. 2015 Feb;9(1):30-6. doi: 10.4162/nrp.2015.9.1.30. Epub 2015 Jan 28. [PMID: 25671065]; PMCID: PMC4317477.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4317477/
- Arreola R, Quintero-Fabián S, López-Roa RI (Et al). Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds. J Immunol Res. 2015;2015:401630. doi: 10.1155/2015/401630. Epub 2015 A