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KNOW YOUR INGREDIENTS: FENUGREEK, BLACK GARLIC, DURUM WHEAT

KNOW YOUR INGREDIENTS: FENUGREEK, BLACK GARLIC, DURUM WHEAT

This week, we're demystifying three buzzed-about ingredients you'll begin to see infused in foods and drinks.

Those ingredients are fenugreek, aged garlic, and durum wheat. These components are being added to items you may already be consuming like snack bars, sauces, or supplements, giving your diet a healthy boost!   

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From herbal compounds to exotic fruits and more, "Know Your Ingredients" helps shed light on ingredients stepping into the spotlight and being used more in healthy foods and beverages. We look at the most trending ingredients and how they interact with the mind, body, and taste buds. 

Let's dive in. 

What is fenugreek? 

fenugreek

Fenugreek is an herb grown in the Mediterranean, Europe, and western Asia. In the same family as soy, people commonly use dried fenugreek seeds as a spice, health supplement, or flavor booster. The seeds look similar to sunflower seeds and are popular in Indian dishes like methi dal or curry. 

What's the flavor like?   

Surprisingly sweet! Fenugreek has a sweet and nutty taste often compared to maple syrup. In fact, consuming too much fenugreek might make your body odor smell, well, syrupy. 

Are there benefits to eating fenugreek? 

In the past, fenugreek was used to treat digestive issues. Today, its functionality spans everything from skin treatment to testosterone support and even milk production among lactating mothers.

It's most talked-about benefit is improving insulin function in the treatment of diabetes.

Studies confirm that fenugreek helps control blood sugar. Researchers baked fenugreek into bread and found the food to maintain functional properties and reduce insulin resistance among subjects with diabetes.

It also treats skin conditions and low testosterone? 

Yes, studies have proven both. Fenugreek is a common ingredient in shampoos and soaps, while also being used in wrappings that support the treatment of skin conditions like eczema. 

Another study conducted in 2010 showed that fenugreek boosted testosterone among college-aged men and "significantly affected percent body fat," lowering body fat among the test group.

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And that's not all... 

Add to the list of functional properties, appetite control! A number of studies record fenugreek's ability to make subjects feel fuller, thereby reducing appetite. Some believe this is a result of the nutritional makeup of the ingredient, aplenty with fiber, protein, carbs, and iron per small volume of seeds. 

How much should I eat? 

It differs by method and person but the short answer is not a lot. Some suggest one tablespoon is the daily max but it's best to consult a registered dietitian or health expert if you want to begin adding fenugreek to your diet. 

Onto the next trending ingredient... 

What is Aged Black Garlic? 

aged black garlic

Used throughout Asian cuisines, aged black garlic is having a celebrity moment in western high-end restaurants. Sought for the unique taste and texture, aged black garlic is transitioning to the wellness field because it has more antioxidants.

Basically, aged black garlic is regular garlic that has been left in a temperature-regulated space for about four weeks. Think of it as fresh garlic zombified. 

What changes when you age garlic? 

First of all, color. Hence the name 'black garlic.' When pearly white fresh garlic is aged and subtly heated a chemical reaction takes place, turning the cloves black.  

With this chemical change, the texture changes and becomes chewy. 

Flavor also takes a turn, becoming sweet and tangy. When garlic is aged it strips out the allicin- the healthy compound that reduces inflammation but also gives garlic its intense aroma and taste. The new mild profile of black garlic has been described as more umami, earthy, and deep in flavor. 

Wait, no healthy compounds? 

While allicin concentration reduces during aging, antioxidant activity increases. A critical review of black garlic in the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis showed that aged black garlic has a higher antioxidant activity, meaning it's more effective than fresh garlic at neutralizing free radicals. 

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This high antioxidant activity gives aged black garlic its star-power among health enthusiasts. Antioxidants help remedy inflammation, prevent diseases, and protect our cells . 

What about heart health and cancer-fighting properties? 

A large-scale review looking at 25 studies exposing cancer incidences with aged black garlic exposure determined there's a significant effect. Published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers determined that "due to anticancer properties of aged garlic, its consumption along with healthy diet may have beneficial effects on cancer." 

Meanwhile, raw garlic and black garlic alike have been tied to cardioprotective effects. A 2018 study uniquely connected black garlic to improved heart function in patients with coronary heart disease. Black garlic improved circulating antioxidant levels and led to an advantage in recovery.

On another note, will it make our breath smell like garlic? 

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Since the aging process reduces allicin, one perk of black garlic is that it lacks the toxicity of raw garlic and "has no peculiar garlic smell," say researchers.  

Great news as we begin to see black garlic pop up in snacks, bars, sauces, and restaurant menus. The unique sweet yet savory flavor of aged black garlic also gives it greater range to appear in more foods and drinks across every meal and occasion.   

Which brings us to our last trending ingredient: 

What is Durum Wheat Semolina 

durum wheat

Durum wheat, also known as semolina flour once the hard wheat gets ground down, is a whole grain with higher protein.

It can be turned into bread and porridge but is best known for making a healthier-alternative pasta

Does it look different from other types of wheat? 

The difference is almost unnoticeable. Semolina flour tends to be coarser- a quality that becomes imperceptible once turned into pasta- and holds a more golden color. 

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What's the health craze hype? 

Two words: protein and fiber.

Durum wheat is higher in protein and fiber- two essential elements for weight management and regulation. Durum wheat pasta creates fullness without being heavy on the stomach. Fiber and protein-rich diets have been linked to weight loss and appetite regulation, not to mention improved digestion and regulation of bowel movements... which is one crucial way the body detoxes itself every day.

Any other nutrients? 

Along with protein and fiber, semolina has high levels of B vitamins, iron, and magnesium. All good for general health. Magnesium, for instance, is an element that can support heart health, regulate blood sugar control, and improve sleep. 

So, it's like regular wheat but more functional? 

grand'mere wheat

Exactly. Since durum wheat semolina is similar to traditional wheat, only with higher protein, fiber, and nutrients, it's easy to incorporate into everyday foods for a functional boost that is imperceptible in taste and texture. In fact, many people prefer the experience of durum wheat! 

Grand'Mere pasta is one trending better-for-you food that is made with this type of wheat. It's organic, free-range egg pasta from France that tastes rich and extravagant yet has a lighter effect on the body. 

Keep an eye out for the next issue of 'Know Your Ingredients' where we look at trending health ingredients you should know about.