Don’t Throw Away Sprouted Garlic! Your Heart Will Thank You

You are making your favorite marinara sauce, only to find that head of garlic you have been saving for this moment has sprouted. Don’t throw it away and head to the store for a fresh one. That mop-headed bulb is still safe to eat – and it may be better for your heart than regular garlic.

An article published in the ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry outlined a study that found sprouted garlic has a higher number of antioxidants than those fresh new bulbs you handpicked at the farmer’s market. The reason? Mother Nature takes care of her babies.

Garlic is an allium and is related to the onion. Garlic use can be traced back to China in 2000 BC, and it was a common addition to ancient Roman and Greek dishes. Pliny the Elder write about garlic’s medicinal qualities. During World Wars II and I, soldiers frequently used garlic as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene. But the benefits of sprouting garlic have been largely overlooked.

When bulbs sprout into green plants, the plant is susceptible to invasion from bacteria, viruses and insects. The plants start to produce chemicals called phytoalexins that help them defend themselves. The study looked at antioxidant activity on garlic that was sprouted for different lengths of time. Garlic that sprouted for five days had the highest levels of antioxidant activity, where fresh garlic had the lowest activity. Extracts from the five-day-old garlic, when added to a laboratory dish full of cells, even protected the cells from certain types of damage. Antioxidant consumption is linked to a reduced risk of coronary disease.

Go ahead and eat those fresh heads of garlic – they are known to combat certain types of cancers, clear nasal passages, and keep away vampires. If you want to try it sprouted, garlic will sprout on its own, but you can encourage it. Poke a few toothpicks in the meaty part of a garlic clove, and balance it on the top of a small glass of water, partially submerging the root side.

Put the glass in a sunny location and allow it to sprout for five days. Wash and use the sprouted garlic in the same way you would use fresh garlic. Sauté with fresh garden vegetables, chop and add to sauces, or add a few cloves to roasting chicken.