People have used garlic for the treatment several medical conditions for centuries.
Today, studies show that garlic is one the healthiest ingredients in the world, with several benefits.
This article takes a look at 10 health benefits of garlic, backed by scientific research.
1. Garlic Has Potent Medicinal Properties
Garlic is closely related to onions, leeks, shallots, and chives. They all belong to the Allium genus.
It is one of the most popular cooking ingredients in the world because of its strong flavor.
Although we mainly use garlic for its taste today, people in the medieval world mainly used it for its medicinal properties (a).
It is well-documented that medical practitioners and traditional healers of all the ancient civilizations used garlic to treat many illnesses (b).
A bulb of garlic refers to whole head and is made up of several gloves (which refers to a single segment). Therefore, a glove of garlic refers to a single segment.
A bulb of garlic can contain about 9 to 21 gloves.
When you chop, chew or crush garlic, it releases some chemicals, including Allicin. Allicin is responsible for the strong flavor and smell of garlic.
It is a sulfur compound and responsible for most of the medicinal effects of garlic.
Allicin is absorbed into the bloodstream from the digestive system where it provides several biological effects. We’ll discuss these benefits in the following chapters.
Conclusion: Garlic contains high levels of the sulfur compound, Allicin. Allicin is responsible for the strong, distinct smell of garlic and provides most of its health benefits. Garlic belongs to the genus, Allium. It is closely related to onions, leeks, chives, and shallots.
2. Garlic contains plenty of nutrients, but very few calories
Garlic contains more nutrients per calorie than most other ingredients.
28 grams (an ounce) of garlic has the following micronutrients and minerals (c).
- 23% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of manganese.
- 17% of the RDA of Vitamin B6.
- 15% of the RDA of Vitamin C.
- 6% of the RDA of Selenium.
- 0.6 grams of fiber.
- Small amounts of copper, phosphorus, calcium, iron and vitamin B1.
You’ll also find trace levels of several other micronutrients and minerals in garlic. There is a tiny bit of almost every essential nutrient the body needs in garlic.
There are approximately 43 calories in a 28-gram serving of garlic, which contains about 9 grams of carbs and 1.8 grams of protein.
Conclusion: Garlic is a highly nutritious ingredient with very few cards. It contains excellent amounts of Manganese, Vitamins C and B6.
3. Garlic Can help treat the common cold and other illnesses
Garlic is so beneficial that it is processed and sold as supplements. Research shows that taking garlic supplements can significantly boost your immune system.
In one study, that took place over a 3-month period; researchers found that people who took garlic supplements daily developed 63% few cold cases than those who took placebos (d).
The study also showed that the average number of days infected by cold went down. People who took garlic supplements were sick for 1.5 days compared to 5 days for those who took placebos.
In a different study, researchers found that you can reduce the number of days you are sick with cold by 60% if you take about 2.56 grams of garlic extract per day (e).
What this shows us is that we should increase our garlic intake if we often get sick with a cold to help combat or prevent it.
Conclusion: Adding garlic to your meals or taking garlic supplements can help you combat and prevent some common illnesses like the common cold and flu.
4. Garlic can Lower Blood Pressure
Some of the most dangerous diseases in the world include heart attacks and other cardiovascular illnesses.
One of the biggest risk factors for cardiovascular disease is hypertension or high blood pressure.
One of the studies on the subject found that aged garlic extract was as potent as the blood pressure drug, Atenolol. The study showed that taking about 600 to 1,500 mg of aged garlic extract per day has the same effect on blood pressure as this drug over a 6-month period (i).
You’ll have to eat a lot of garlic to get this same effect though. The quantity of allicin needed to achieve this effect is equivalent to about four cloves of garlic. Therefore, you need a high dose of garlic extract.
Conclusion: Studies show that garlic can have a positive impact on blood pressure. This is one of its many health benefits. However, you need to take about 600 to 1,500 mg of garlic extract to achieve the same effects as the blood pressure drug, Atenolol.
5. Garlic may help lower the risk of heart disease by reducing cholesterol levels
Studies show that garlic has the ability to lower LDL (“the bad”) cholesterol.
Conclusion: Studies show that regular intake of garlic supplements by people with high cholesterol can help lower LDL cholesterol. However, it appears to have no impact on HDL cholesterol or triglycerides.
6. The antioxidants in garlic may help fight Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
Many illnesses are linked to damage from free radicals in the body. This damage is also responsible for the aging process.
There are many antioxidants present in garlic that help the body protect against oxidative damage (t).
Another study found that people with high blood pressure can also reduce oxidative stress by taking high doses of garlic supplements (w).
Conclusion: The antioxidants in garlic can help the body protect itself from the oxidation damage of free radicals. This can reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Garlic may promote long life
I doubt one can actually measure the effect of garlic on longevity in humans.
However, we’ve already discussed how beneficial garlic is for our health. The health benefits should help us live longer.
It can also help fight some infectious diseases, which should help with longevity. Infectious diseases are one the biggest killers, particularly in the elderly and in people with dysfunctional immune systems.
Conclusion: Garlic can help prevent and treat many chronic illnesses that are the cause of early death. It should, therefore, help us live longer.
8. Garlic supplements may help improve athletic performance
Ancient people used garlic as a performance enhancer, helping to combat fatigue in laborers and to enhance their work capacity.
They believed so much in its effectiveness as a performance-enhancing substance that some athletes even used it during the ancient Greek Olympic (z).
A few studies in rodents show that garlic can improve exercise performance. However, there aren’t many studies on how this affects humans.
In one study, garlic was given to test subjects for 6 weeks. Their peak heart rates reduced by 12%, which helped improve their exercise capacity (a1).
However, in one study involving pro cyclists, there were no performance benefits (b1).
But there was one study that suggested that garlic may help reduce exercise-induced fatigue (c1).
Conclusion: Garlic has been shown to help improve physical performance in rodents and in people suffering from cardiovascular problems. However, we cannot say that healthy people will get any such benefits.
9. Garlic May Help Detox The Body
Heavy metals in our foods and drinks can cause damage to organs. Research shows that you can protect your organs from this damage by taking high doses of garlic per day.
In a study in people who are heavily exposed to lead, researchers discovered that garlic consumption lowered their blood lead level by 19%. It also lowered the occurrence of certain illnesses linked to heavy metal poisoning, like headaches (d1).
Some studies even suggest that taking 3 doses of garlic per day was more effective than the drug D-penicillin in reducing symptoms.
Conclusion: A study shows that high doses of garlic can help lower lead toxicity
10. Garlic May Be Good For Bone Health
There are no specific studies on the effects of garlic on bone loss in humans.
In one study involving menopausal women, subjects experienced a reduction in a blood marker for estrogen deficiency when they took dry garlic extract each day (i1).
This should, therefore, have a positive effect on bone loss in women.
Studies also show that come ingredients, including garlic and onion, can have a beneficial effect on osteoarthritis ( j1).
Garlic has many health benefits, some of which are medicinal. Many health experts recommend taking garlic supplements to help improve general health.
Garlic can be used in a variety of ways and is easy to add food. We love it for its strong flavor but hate it for the smell of our breath afterward.
Make it a point to consume at least 3 cloves of garlic each day to get the minimal therapeutic benefit. The more garlic you eat in a day, the more benefits you’ll get.
Although most of us can safely eat garlic, a few people may be allergic to it. Another side effect is bad breath.
People with bleeding issues and those taking blood thinning medicines should consult their doctor before taking garlic supplements.
Always crush or chop garlic before cooking it or you won’t get the benefits of the allicin, which is only released under such conditions.
The best way to get most of the benefits of garlic is to eat it raw.
I add garlic salad by making a dressing of pressed garlic juice, extra virgin olive oil and salt.
If you know of any other garlic benefits, please share in the comments section below