“Sprouted” garlic — old garlic bulbs with bright green shoots sprouting from their cloves —is commonly thought to be past its prime and routinely gets tossed into the garbage bin without a second thought.
While some old sprouted foods can actually be dangerous because they release toxic chemicals that can harm the body, that’s not the case with sprouted garlic – on the contrary.
In fact, a study funded by Korea’s Institute of Planning and Evaluation for Technology, which was recently published in the ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that sprouted garlic has even more antioxidant activity than its younger, fresher brethren.
Garlic has been used as a medicine for eons
According to Dr. Mercola studies show that consuming raw garlic as a regular part of your dietary regimen has impressive health benefits including:
• Effective against drug-resistant bacteria
• Reduces risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke
• Helps normalize your cholesterol and blood pressure
• Protects against cancer, including brain, lung, and prostate cancer
• Reduces the risk of osteoarthritis
But the health benefit of sprouted garlic has received much less scrutiny – until now
The researchers knew that as seedlings transform into green plants they manufacture many compounds including those that protect the plant from pathogens.
Researcher Jong-Sang Kim explains, “Plants are very susceptible to attack from bacteria, viruses, and insects during sprouting.
This causes them to produce a variety of chemicals called phytoalexins to defend themselves. Most of these are toxic to microorganisms and insects, but beneficial to human health.”
Kim’s group postulated that a similar process may be occurring when green shoots grow from old garlic cloves.
Other studies had already revealed that sprouted beans and grains have richer antioxidant profiles than unsprouted varieties, so the team decided to see if sprouted garlic had increased antioxidant levels as well.
What the Researchers Found
Extracts from garlic sprouted for 5 days had the highest antioxidant activity, whereas extracts from raw garlic had relatively low antioxidant activity.
Furthermore, sprouting changed the metabolite profile of garlic: the metabolite profile of garlic sprouted for 5–6 days was distinct from the metabolite profile of garlic sprouted for 0–4 days, which is consistent with the finding that garlic sprouted for 5 days had the highest antioxidant activity.
The researchers concluded that sprouting may be a viable method to increase the antioxidant potential of garlic.
However, they still are not certain of the exact mechanisms behind the enhanced antioxidant levels found in sprouted garlic.