Eating garlic or taking garlic supplements is touted as a natural way to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and heart disease risk. It even may boost the immune system and help fight cancer.
But those benefits are for fresh, raw garlic. Sprouted garlic has received much less attention.
When seedlings grow into green plants, they make many new compounds, including those that protect the young plant against pathogens.
Jong-Sang Kim and his group reasoned that the same thing might be happening when green shoots grow from old heads of garlic.
They found that garlic sprouted for five days had higher antioxidant activity than fresher, younger bulbs, and 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. "Therefore, sprouting may be a useful way to improve the antioxidant potential of garlic," they conclude.
The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.