Listen to your grandmother when it comes to garlic and its health benefits. Don't throw 'sprouted' garlic (old garlic bulbs with bright green shoots emerging from the cloves) in the garbage as it has more heart-healthy antioxidant activity than its fresher counterparts.
People have used garlic for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. "Today, people still celebrate its healthful benefits. Eating garlic or taking garlic supplements is touted as a natural way to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and heart disease risk," explained lead researcher Jong-Sang Kim from the University of Iowa in the US.
Sprouted garlic has received much less attention though. According to various studies, when seedlings grow into green plants, they make many new compounds, including those that protect the young plant against pathogens.
Kim's team reasoned that the same thing might be happening when green shoots grow from old heads of garlic. Other studies have shown that sprouted beans and grains have increased antioxidant activity, so the team set out to see if the same is true for garlic.
They found that the garlic which sprouted for five days had higher antioxidant activity than fresher, younger bulbs. It had different metabolites, suggesting that it also makes different substances. Extracts from this garlic even protected cells in a laboratory dish from certain types of damage.
"Sprouting may be a useful way to improve the antioxidant potential of garlic," added Kim in a paper published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
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