Black garlic is a ripened type of onion made from traditional garlic (Allium sativum), for which fresh garlic is subjected to a specific process. Its specialty lies in its taste and nutritional value compared to the well-known garlic. In terms of its nutrient value, it is a richer and has a more beneficial effect on our health.
Black garlic is a less known raw material in Hungary. On the other hand in Asia, and even in its native country, Korea, it is consumed for a long time due to its beneficial effects on health.
It is now available as a dietary supplement and for kitchen use (e.g. cream, powder).
Fresh garlic is kept in controlled high temperature (60-90 ° C) and controlled high humidity (80-90%) during the aging process. With aging for about one month, due to the long-lasting high temperature, a very dark-coloured and renewed consistency and composition of onions are born. During the process, the useful substances in the garlic appear more concentrated. Far Eastern doctors developed this method to extract the healthiest ingredients of garlic.
The production itself is a very simple, natural chemical process, a kind of caramelization. As a result of the heat, the garlic molecules and the proteins react with each other therefore producing the brown colour and the new aromas. This process is called the Maillard reaction of food and cooking technology. During the reaction, melanoid is produced in the onion, where the black garlic obtains its characteristic dark shade, while this substance makes it exceptionally healthy. During the aging process, the well-known pickling consistency is transformed: the black garlic becomes sticky and spreads.
Milder taste of the black garlic is due to the Maillard reaction. The reduced flavour is due to the fact that allicin reduces to a large extent in the garlic due to the heat treatment, so black garlic can be regarded as a whole new flavour of food. By the aging process, black garlic becomes more easily digestible than the fresh version. Consuming it is also possible for those who have ignored this beneficial onion due to the gastrointestinal effects.
Due to its mild, sweet taste, it is widely popular, and even those who don’t prefer strong garlic flavour is like it. Its special balsamic vinegar aroma was quickly discovered in cuisines and today famous chefs use it to flavour different kinds of food (soups, meats, ice creams) worldwide. Click here for Recipes with black garlic. Black garlic contains 35 calories per serving.
- Water-soluble sulphur compounds: S-allyl-L-cysteine (SAC) and S-allyl mercaptocysteine (SAMC). These two compounds prove to be the most significant active ingredients of black garlic.
- Fat-soluble sulphur compounds: dially-sulphide, triallyl-sulphide, diallyl-disulphide, diallyl-polysulphide.
Certain studies have found that black garlic during its production becomes richer in some valuable ingredients than in raw form.
Comparison of traditional garlic and black garlic composition
Original concentration (fresh garlic)
Ingredients of black garlic in comparison with fresh garlic
13.91 mg GAE*/g
4.19 times higher
3.22 mg RE*/g
4.77 times higher
55.64 mg/100 g
2.43 times higher
58.62 mg/100 g
1.06 times higher
*GAE (gallic acid equivalent); RE (retinol equivalent)
Its health effects
Like its fresh form, black garlic is an immune enhancer, as it has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-parasitic properties. In samples analyzed in a laboratory, black garlic was found to increase the activity of white blood cells circulating in the body. By increasing the growth and activity of these immune cells (e.g., macrophages and natural killer cells), black garlic extract may improve immune targeting of abnormal cell bodies.
Has antiflammatory effect
In a human cell study, the antioxidant found in black garlic stopped the activation of the nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB). This is crucial because this molecule controls the release of cytokines which prolongs and stimulates TNF-α activated cell. These cells promote inflammatory response and increase blood flow. During the study, black garlic reduced the number of proteins associated with cells and caused clots. It also reduced the number of cells that cause inflammation and cell damage.
Controls blood glucose level
Due to its components, it plays a major role in maintaining blood glucose levels. In experiments in rats, the consumption of ripened black garlic significantly reduced serum glucose, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Thus, it was concluded that black garlic could improve insulin sensitivity in fructose-fed rats.
Due to its high antioxidant content, black garlic can help reducing oxidative stress due to increased blood glucose levels. Several scientific studies found that antioxidant levels higher than in raw garlic have a much stronger effect, which means that black garlic can be effective in preventing diabetes and its complications.
Black garlic as an antioxidant is much more effective than fresh garlic, as its antioxidant content is two times higher. In the black form, there are far more (200 g) allylcysteine sulphoxide (allicin) and an increased amount of thiosulphinate (allicin) and melanoid, which play an important role in protection against diseases as an antioxidant. Basically, the role of antioxidants is the inactivation of free radicals that endangers our body, so the so-called oxidative stress, which leads to illnesses and leads to various damage.
Has beneficial effect on cholesterol and heart
In a 12-week, placebo-controlled human study including 60 people, 30 of them received 6 g lack garlic twice a day, and 30 others received placebo. At the end of the study, black garlic increased HDL (good) cholesterol levels compared to the placebo group. However, LDL (bad cholesterol) did not change. Organic sulphur compounds in black garlic widen the blood vessels leading to lower blood pressure. In a 12-week study, 2 or 4 black garlic per day were used by a total of 79 high blood pressure patients. At the end of the study, the average blood pressure of participants decreased significantly by 11.8 mmHg. Black garlic also significantly reduced lipoprotein apoB levels in the blood. The high level of apoB is associated with heart disease.
Ae Wha Ha, Woo Kyoung Kim (2017): Antioxidant mechanism of black garlic extract involving nuclear factor erythroid 2-like factor 2 pathway. Nutrition Research and Practice 2017;11(3):206-213. p.
Ji Hyeon Ryu, Dawon Kang (2017): Physicochemical Properties, Biological Activity, Health Benefits, and General Limitations of Aged Black Garlic: A Review. Molecules 2017, 22, 919; doi:10.3390/molecules22060919
Shunsuke Kimura, Yen-Chen Tung, Min-Hsiung Pan, Nan-Wei Su, Ying-Jang Lai, Kuan-Chen Cheng (2017): Black garlic: A critical review of its production, bioactivity, and application. Journal of Food and Drug Analysis 25 (2017 ) 62-70. p.