Quantcast

11 Proven Health Benefits of Garlic

Food
Garlic supplementation is known to boost the function of the immune system. Shutterstock

By Joe Leech

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food."

Those are famous words from the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, often called the father of western medicine. He actually used to prescribe garlic to treat a variety of medical conditions. Well, modern science has recently confirmed many of these beneficial health effects.


Here are 11 health benefits of garlic that are supported by human research studies.

1. Garlic Contains a Compound Called Allicin, Which Has Potent Medicinal Properties

Garlic is a plant in the Allium (onion) family. It is closely related to onions, shallots and leeks.

It grows in many parts of the world and is a popular ingredient in cooking due to its strong smell and delicious taste. However, throughout ancient history, the main use of garlic was for its health and medicinal properties. Its use was well documented by all the major civilizations, including the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and the Chinese.

The entire “head" is called a garlic bulb, while each segment is called a clove. There are about 10-20 cloves in a single bulb, give or take. We now know that most of the health effects are caused by one of the sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed.

This compound is known as allicin, and is also responsible for the distinct garlic smell. Allicin enters the body from the digestive tract and travels all over the body, where it exerts its potent biological effects (which we'll get to in a bit).

Bottom Line: Garlic is a plant in the onion family, grown for its cooking properties and health effects. It is high in a sulfur compound called allicin, which is believed to bring most of the health benefits.

2. Garlic Is Highly Nutritious, But Has Very Few Calories

Calorie for calorie, garlic is incredibly nutritious.

A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of garlic contains:

  • Manganese: 23 percent of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B6: 17 percent of the RDA.
  • Vitamin C: 15 percent of the RDA.
  • Selenium: 6 percent of the RDA.
  • Fiber: 1 gram.
  • Decent amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and Vitamin B1.

Garlic also contains trace amounts of various other nutrients. In fact, it contains a little bit of almost everything we need.

This is coming with 42 calories, with 1.8 grams of protein and 9 grams of carbs.

Bottom Line: Garlic is low in calories and very rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and manganese. It also contains trace amounts of various other nutrients.

3. Garlic Can Combat Sickness, Including the Common Cold

Garlic supplementation is known to boost the function of the immune system.

One large 12-week study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63 percent compared with placebo. The average length of cold symptoms was also reduced by 70 percent, from five days in placebo to just 1.5 days in the garlic group.

Another study found that a high dose of garlic extract (2.56 grams per day) can reduce the number of days sick with cold or flu by 61 percent.

If you often get colds, then adding garlic to your diet could be incredibly helpful.

Bottom Line: Garlic supplementation helps to prevent and reduce the severity of common illnesses like the flu and common cold.

4. The Active Compounds in Garlic Can Reduce Blood Pressure

Cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes are the world's biggest killers. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the most important drivers of these diseases.

Human studies have found garlic supplementation to have a significant impact on reducing blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.

In one study, aged garlic extract at doses of 600-1,500 mg was just as effective as the drug Atenolol at reducing blood pressure over a 24 week period.

Supplement doses must be fairly high to have these desired effects. The amount of allicin needed is equivalent to about four cloves of garlic per day.

Bottom Line: High doses of garlic appear to improve blood pressure of those with known high blood pressure (hypertension). In some instances, supplementation can be as effective as regular medications.

Read page 1

5. Garlic Improves Cholesterol Levels, Which May Lower The Risk of Heart Disease

Garlic can lower total and LDL cholesterol. For those with high cholesterol, garlic supplementation appears to reduce total and/or LDL cholesterol by about 10-15 percent.

Looking at LDL (the “bad") and HDL (the “good") cholesterol specifically, garlic appears to lower LDL but has no reliable effect on HDL.

Garlic does not appear to lower triglyceride levels, another known risk factor for heart disease.

Bottom Line: Garlic supplementation seems to reduce total and LDL cholesterol, particularly in those who have high cholesterol. HDL cholesterol and triglycerides do not seem to be affected.

6. Garlic Contains Antioxidants That May Help Prevent Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia

Oxidative damage from free radicals contributes to the aging process. Garlic contains antioxidants that support the body's protective mechanisms against oxidative damage.

High doses of garlic supplementation have been shown to increase antioxidant enzymes in humans, as well as significantly reduce oxidative stress in those with high blood pressure. The combined effects on reducing cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as the antioxidant properties, may help prevent common brain diseases like Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Bottom Line: Garlic contains antioxidants that protect against cell damage and aging. It may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

7. Garlic May Help You Live Longer

Effects on longevity are basically impossible to prove in humans. But given the beneficial effects on important risk factors like blood pressure, it makes sense that garlic could help you live longer.

The fact that it can fight infectious disease is also an important factor, because these are common causes of death, especially in the elderly or people with dysfunctional immune systems.

Bottom Line: Garlic has known beneficial effects on common causes of chronic disease, so it makes perfect sense that it could help you live longer.

8. Athletic Performance Can be Improved With Garlic Supplementation

Garlic was one of the earliest “performance enhancing" substances. It was traditionally used in ancient cultures to reduce fatigue and enhance the work capacity of labourers. Most notably, it was administered to Olympic athletes in ancient Greece.

Rodent studies have shown that garlic helps with exercise performance, but very few human studies have been done.

Subjects with heart disease who took garlic oil for six weeks had a reduction in peak heart rate of 12 percent and improved their exercise capacity. However, a study on nine competitive cyclists found no performance benefits.

Other studies suggest that exercise-induced fatigue may be reduced with garlic.

Bottom Line: Garlic can improve physical performance in lab animals and people with heart disease. Benefits in healthy people are not yet conclusive.

9. Eating Garlic Can Help Detoxify Heavy Metals in the Body

At high doses, the sulfur compounds in garlic have been shown to protect against organ damage from heavy metal toxicity.

A four week study in employees of a car battery plant (excessive exposure to lead) found that garlic reduced lead levels in the blood by 19 percent. It also reduced many clinical signs of toxicity, including headaches and blood pressure.

Three doses of garlic each day even outperformed the drug D-penicillamine in symptom reduction.

Bottom Line: Garlic was shown to significantly reduce lead toxicity and related symptoms in one study.

10. Garlic May Improve Bone Health

No human trials have measured the effects of garlic on bone loss. However, rodent studies have shown that it can minimize bone loss by increasing estrogen in females.

One study in menopausal women found that a daily dose of dry garlic extract (equal to 2 grams of raw garlic) significantly decreased a marker of estrogen deficiency. This suggests that this garlic may have beneficial effects on bone health in women.

Foods like garlic and onions have also been shown to have beneficial effects on osteoarthritis.

Bottom Line: Garlic appears to have some benefits for bone health by increasing estrogen levels in females, but more human studies are needed.

11. Garlic Is Easy to Include In Your Diet and Tastes Absolutely Delicious

The last one is not a health benefit, but still important.

It is the fact that it is very easy (and delicious) to include garlic in your current diet. It complements most savory dishes, particularly soups and sauces. The strong taste of garlic can also add a punch to otherwise bland recipes.

Garlic comes in several forms, from whole cloves and smooth pastes to powders and supplements like garlic extract and garlic oil.

The minimum effective dose for therapeutic effects is one clove eaten with meals, two or three times a day. However, keep in mind that there are some downsides to garlic, such as bad breath. There are also some people who are allergic to it.

If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood thinning medications, then talk to your doctor before increasing your garlic consumption.

The active compound allicin only forms when garlic is crushed or cleaved when it is raw. If you cook it before crushing it, then it won't have the same health effects. Therefore, the best way to consume garlic is raw, or to crush and cut it and leave it out for a while before you add it to your recipes.

My favorite way to use garlic is to press a few cloves of fresh garlic with a garlic press, then mix with extra virgin olive oil and a bit of salt. This a healthy and super satisfying dressing.

For thousands of years, garlic was believed to have medicinal properties. We now have the science to confirm it.

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

Related Articles Around the Web
From Your Site Articles

    EcoWatch Daily Newsletter


    georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images

    By Jennifer Molidor

    One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.

    Read More Show Less
    Edwin Remsburg / VW Pics / Getty Images

    Botswana, home to one third of Africa's elephants, announced Wednesday that it was lifting its ban on the hunting of the large mammals.

    "The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.

    Read More Show Less
    Sponsored
    Pxhere

    By Richard Denison

    Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).

    Read More Show Less
    De Molen windmill and nuclear power plant cooling tower in Doel, Belgium. Trougnouf / CC BY-SA 4.0

    By Grant Smith

    From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.

    Read More Show Less
    A lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Brett Walton / Circle of Blue

    By Brett Walton

    When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.

    Read More Show Less
    Sponsored
    Gabriele Holtermann Gorden / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

    In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.

    This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.

    Read More Show Less
    Amer Ghazzal / Barcroft Media / Getty Images

    If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.

    That's the conclusion of a new study from think tank Autonomy, which found that Germany, the UK and Sweden all needed to drastically reduce their workweeks to fight climate change.

    "The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."

    The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.

    The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.

    The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.

    "We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."

    Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.

    "This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."

    Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.

    "Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."

    Amazon Employees for Climate Justice held a press conference after the annual shareholder meeting on May 22. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice

    Amazon shareholders voted down an employee-backed resolution calling for more aggressive action on climate change at their annual meeting Wednesday, The Los Angeles Times reported.

    Read More Show Less