Health Benefits of Black Garlic

Medically Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, RD, LD, MPH on November 10, 2022
4 min read

You’re likely well-acquainted with fresh garlic, particularly its strong smell and taste. Have you ever heard of black garlic though?

Black garlic is fresh raw garlic (Allium sativum) that changes with time through the use of low heat and humidity of about 70% in a process called the Maillard reaction. During this process, the cloves turn a distinct black color. The garlic’s texture and flavor change as well. It’s softer, chewier, and sweeter than regular raw garlic. 

While black garlic seems to be a recent phenomenon, it’s been around and in use for centuries. Its origins are unclear, but it started in Asia well before it became mainstream in the United States. One reason for its popularity is that black garlic, like fresh raw garlic, has antioxidants and other key nutrients that can help to improve your health and prevent serious health-related issues. 

While black garlic has less of the active compound allicin than its fresh raw counterpart, it does boast higher concentrations of many nutrients, antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds. These higher concentrations may be at least partly responsible for the many health benefits that black garlic provides: 

Blood sugar control

Like fresh raw garlic, black garlic can help to regulate blood sugar levels. Reducing high blood sugar helps prevent serious health issues, such as diabetes symptoms, kidney dysfunction, and more. Higher antioxidant levels in black garlic may also help to prevent complications related to diabetes.

Heart protection

Fresh raw garlic is known for its ability to help improve heart health. Black garlic may provide the same protective effects. Black garlic can also help lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, which in turn reduces your risk of heart disease.

Fights some cancers

Many studies show that the antioxidant properties of black garlic can help to fight against cancer. One study found that it could help reduce the growth of colon cancer cells. Compounds in aged black garlic can also block free radicals in the body. This property reduces cell damage and can help to limit the growth and potential spread of cancer cells in the body. 

Brain health

With its antioxidants, black garlic can help reduce inflammation in the body and prevent cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. It may also help to improve memory and other parts of cognitive function.

Increased immunity

By reducing inflammation, the antioxidants in black garlic can help boost your immune system. The antioxidants fight free radicals and prevent oxidative stress that lead to cell damage. A healthy immune system means that your body is able to fight infections and bacteria more effectively. 

Liver health

Black garlic may help improve the health of your liver. Some research shows that the food can help to lower markers of liver injury following liver damage, decrease fatty deposits in the liver, and rebalance liver cell size.

Nutrients Per Serving

In 15 grams of peeled black garlic, there are:

Black garlic also contains noticeable amounts of:

Compared to regular garlic, black garlic has a smaller amount of allicin, the compound that gives regular garlic some of its health benefits. Still, it’s rich in amino acids, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. The fermentation process, however, changes the concentrations.

Black garlic contains more antioxidants than regular garlic. It also has more of a compound called S-Allylcysteine (SAC). SAC helps the body to absorb allicin. With a greater concentration, black garlic may be more effective at helping your body get the benefits that allicin provides. 

Although black garlic is not as common as fresh raw garlic, some stores do carry it. Online stores feature the product as well.

You can also make black garlic at home using a dehydrator or a slow cooker. The process takes a few weeks, but the results are worth the effort.

If you use a dehydrator:

  1. Wrap a head of garlic in plastic, then in several layers of tinfoil.
  2. Cover the garlic to trap moisture and keep the cloves from drying out.
  3. Set the packet in the dehydrator.
  4. Set the temperature to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Wait three weeks for your black garlic to be ready.

If you use a slow cooker:

  1. Set the dial to warm (not cook).
  2. Put whole heads of garlic inside the slow cooker.
  3. Wait two weeks for your black garlic to be ready.

You can use black garlic in various ways and for different tasty recipes:

  • Enjoy the sweet black garlic on its own.
  • Spread it on toast and top it with an egg.
  • Add black garlic to a charcuterie board or cheese platter for some fun and delicious pairings.
  • Process it with shallots, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and some salt for a marinade.
  • Blend it with chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, and salt for a new spin on garlic hummus.
  • Mash black garlic in with potatoes.
  • Use black garlic as a substitute for regular garlic in your favorite recipes for a mellower, smokier flavor.