Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes in many cultures for centuries. Garlic is a particularly rich source of organosulfur compounds which are thought to be responsible for its flavour and aroma, as well as its health benefits. Two classes of organosulfur compounds are found in garlic cloves: L-cysteine sulfoxides and γ-glutamyl-L-cysteine peptides.
Crushing, chopping, or chewing raw garlic sets off a series of rapid chemical reactions in the garlic cloves. Firstly, an enzyme known as alliinase is released. Alliinase converts L-cysteine sulfoxides to sulfenic acids. Sulfenic acids spontaneously react with each other to form an unstable compound called allicin. The formation of allicin is very rapid and has been found to be complete within 10 to 60 seconds of crushing garlic. Allicin then breaks down to form a variety of fat-soluble organosulfur compounds. The process is hard to control and very difficult to standardise in terms of an ingredient for dietary supplements.
Crushing garlic does not change its γ-glutamyl-L-cystein peptide content. When garlic is put through an aging process, such as fermentation, water-soluble organosulfur compounds, such as allylcysteine are formed from γ-glutamyl-S-allyl-L-cysteine peptides.
Although little is known about their biological activities, non-sulfur garlic phytochemicals, including flavonoids, steroid saponins, organoselenium compounds, and allixin, are also present in garlic.
Xtend-Life uses a form of aged garlic that has been subject to months'-long fermentation. The fermenting process turns the garlic cloves black, and hence it is sometimes referred to as "black garlic extract". The fermenting process is very stable and controlled and during the process, harsh and unstable organosulfur compounds are converted into non-irritating bioavailable compounds of which allylcysteine in the most prominent. It is allylcysteine that is responsible for aged garlic's numerous health benefits.
There is an extensive body of scientific literature that points to the benefits of aged garlic supplements. For example, several meta-analyses have shown that aged garlic extract helps support healthy blood pressure. Research has also shown that aged garlic extract helps reverse the build-up of plaque and arterial calcification, ultimately steering the arteries away from atherosclerosis.
Supplements containing aged garlic extract are widely available and are used to support immunity, for cardiovascular health and to support healthy blood flow and blood pressure. Research has also shown that aged garlic extract supplements lead to improved gut microbiota, evident by higher microbial richness and diversity after 3 months of supplementation.
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