Sprouted Garlic Offers Surprising Health Benefits
Do not toss your sprouted garlic into the trash or compost heap. If you do, you could miss some surprising health benefits from this popular herb and natural supplement.
Garlic (Allium sativum) has long been one of the most popular herbs and natural supplements for a variety of health issues. Now a research team has discovered that sprouted garlic has some additional advantages similar to those found in sprouted beans and grains.
Why you should eat garlic
Before you can appreciate the special characteristics of sprouted garlic, it’s important to recognize what makes garlic such a special health food. Among its health-promoting ingredients are allicin, alliin, ajoene, polysulfides, 1,2-vinyldithiin, thiacremonone, and diallyl sulfides, among others, as well as manganese, vitamins B6 and C, and selenium.
Overall, garlic is appreciated for its ability to help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduce blood pressure, act as an antibacterial and antifungal agent, provide some cancer-fighting activities, and enhance the immune system. Polysulfides, for example, are sulfur-containing molecules that help the body produce hydrogen sulfide, gas, which in turn assists in controlling blood pressure.
The compound 1,2-vinyldithiin has anti-inflammatory properties, and diallyl sulfides can help boost the production of ferroportin, which can improve the metabolism of iron. Garlic also helps prevent platelet accumulation that can result in life-threatening clots.
The research team, which included experts from several universities in South Korea, proposed that sprouting garlic would enhance the production of health-promoting substances in garlic. They tested this idea by using extracts from garlic sprouted for less than 5 days or from 5 to 6 days.
Here’s what they found:
- Garlic extracts sprouted for 5 days had the greatest level of antioxidant activity
- Garlic extracts sprouted for 0 to 4 days had lower antioxidant activity
- from raw garlic had low antioxidant activity
- Sprouted garlic showed an increase in neuroprotective properties (protecting the nerve cells from damage)
The authors are uncertain which compounds in garlic are responsible for the higher level of antioxidant activity in sprouted garlic. For now, however, they concluded that “sprouting could be a useful way to increase the antioxidative potential of garlic and thereby expand its use.”
If you want to enjoy the health benefits of garlic—sprouted or nonsprouted, it’s important to know how to prepare it.
It’s important to crush, mince, or chop fresh garlic to trigger the process that transforms alliin to allicin, which provides many of the herb’s benefits. Let the cut garlic sit for at least 5 minutes before you cook or eat it. Enjoy raw garlic whenever possible.
If you do cook cut garlic, add it to your recipe during the last 5 to 15 minutes of cook time to reduce the amount of health-promoting compounds that are lost. Instead of roasting garlic at a high temperature, keep the heat at 250 degrees F or lower.
Zakarova A et al. Garlic sprouting is associated with increased antioxidant activity and concomitant changes in the metabolic profile. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry 2014; 62(8): 1875-80