April 03, 2015

Don't throw away your sprouted garlic; it's a superfood

First, let's clear the air on those "garlic is poisonous" rumors that a few hold, similar to the zealous "apple and apricot seeds are toxic" fear mongers.

A little bit of knowledge is dangerous when it overlooks all the details of the complete picture. The disinformation fear mongers should all be ignored. 

However, there is some truth about toxic garlic if you buy conventionally raised imported garlic. Over half of conventionally grown garlic comes from China. Almost all the rest comes from Mexico and some South American nations.

Some of that garlic imported from China was grown in human feces, according to an Australian report. After having several large shipments detained in the USA due to mold and insect infestation, China and other nations have resorted to bleaching and fumigating their garlic with methyl bromide, a highly toxic pesticide that has been banned in some areas.

There is an option. Pay slightly more to purchase locally or domestically grown organic garlic bulbs. Ironically, the toxic measures at attempting to keep imported garlic from spoiling also inhibits a capability that enhances garlic's health-providing attributes -- sprouting.

Sprouted garlic is even healthier

Sprouted garlic, older 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 aging plant foods that begin to sprout, like potatoes, can actually be dangerous because they release toxic chemicals which can harm humans, that's not the case with sprouted garlic.

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.

The researchers knew that, as seedlings transform into green plants, they manufacture many compounds, some of which protect the plant from pathogens.

Researcher Jong-Sang Kim, PhD, explained, "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 older garlic cloves. They found that extracts from garlic sprouted for five days had the highest antioxidant activity, whereas extracts from raw garlic had lower antioxidant activity.

Furthermore, sprouting changed the metabolite profile of garlic: The metabolite profile of garlic sprouted for five to six days was distinct from the metabolite profile of garlic sprouted four days or less.

The researchers concluded that sprouting may be a viable method to increase the antioxidant potential of garlic, though they are still not certain of the exact mechanisms involved.

Sprouted garlic enhances raw garlic's proven anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, cardiovascular health protection, and its ability to kill 14 types of cancer cells. A sulfur-rich compound in garlic called allicin is effective against bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites without toxic side effects.

So go ahead and grab a few domestic, organic, sprouting garlic bulbs from the market shelves or simply allow them to sprout in your pantry or storage closet to enhance their antioxidant properties. 

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