The health benefits of garlic have been reaped for centuries.
The reason this herb is best for you because many civilizations have used garlic as a food supplement to remedy infections and different diseases.
And now science is shedding light on some of the ways and mechanisms garlic boosts your health.
Garlic is one of the earliest documented plants used for its health benefits and prevention of disease properties.
Garlic belongs to the Allium family of plants. The members of this family include onions, shallots, chives, and leeks (1).
Garlic was found in Egyptian pyramids, in Greek temples and it has Biblical references.
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed the benefits of garlic for many illnesses.
Recent research has revealed the potential of garlic’s bioactive compounds in aiding disease prevention and positive health benefits (2).
1) Garlic Provides Micronutrients Required by the Human Body
Garlic contains minerals and vitamins that our bodies require (3).
Garlic contains minerals such as Manganese, calcium and selenium and vitamins such as Vitamin C and Vitamin B 6 which have an important function in maintaining good health.
|Nutrient (1 clove)||Unit||Daily Value|
The gist: Garlic use can supplement the daily needs of micronutrients required by our bodies.
2) Garlic Contains Unique Therapeutic Compounds
Garlic contains sulfur-containing active compounds called organosulfur compounds that are responsible for many of the biological activities elicited by garlic when taken as a food supplement.
Alliin is one of the most important sulfur-containing amino acids studied in garlic.
When garlic is crushed, an Alliinase enzyme is released that reacts with Alliin and makes Allicin that has therapeutic properties.
The gist: Organosulfur compounds that are unique to garlic provide much of its therapeutic functions.
3) Garlic Has Immune-boosting Properties
Much of garlic studies have focused on the immune-boosting properties of garlic.
And several studies have concluded that garlic has immune-boosting properties.
Research on small mammals has shown that garlic can boost the population of immune cells (6).
The boost in the immune system helps in fighting diseases.
Common cold and flu study conducted at the University of Florida concluded that the Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) helped Immune cells grow and proliferate better than the control group in participants suffering from flu and the common cold (7).
Thus, garlic helps fight these ailments by boosting the immune system.
Other studies have taken a more cautious approach in concluding the role of garlic’s bioactive compounds and their benefits in fighting the common cold.
More research in humans is required to fully understand the scope of help garlic bioactive compounds can provide in fighting disease (8). Nevertheless, Garlic still can be included in your diet for its overall positive effect on health.
The gist: Garlic can help boost the immune system however, more studies are required to conclusively show that.
4) Garlic Could Mitigate Cardiovascular Diseases
Garlic can promote healthy cardiovascular activity.
A study found that Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) had the potential for cardiovascular protection (9). Others have reviewed the role of garlic in cardiovascular disease.
Research has shown that garlic provides cardiovascular benefits primarily by decreasing cholesterol and triglycerides in people having increased levels of these compounds. This may also have a positive effect on people with atherosclerosis (10).
Although more studies are needed to fully understand how it happens the evidence is encouraging and including Garlic in your diet can have cardiovascular protective properties.
The gist: Garlic can provide protection against cardiovascular disease due to its function in lipid metabolism.
5) Garlic Can Reduce Cholesterol Levels
Garlic can be an easy way to control and regulate the Cholesterol level. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is considered bad cholesterol.
A research study noted that the consumption of Garlic reduced the levels of LDL cholesterol (11).
The reduction in LDL cholesterol can have beneficial effects in lowering the blood pressure in hypertensive individuals.
In summary, a diet supplemented with garlic can have a lasting effect on people with high cholesterol and high blood pressure. This eventually can be useful in protection against heart disease.
The gist: Garlic reduces the levels of bad cholesterol LDL and this can help with blood pressure control
6) Garlic Has Antibacterial And Antifungal Properties
Garlic is more potent against food poisoning than antibiotics. The sulfur-containing bioactive chemicals that are shown to fight and kill food poisoning related bacteria called Campylobacter (12, 13).
Food poisoning is caused by eating raw or undercooked poultry and beef.
It is incredible to note that garlic can be more effective than the current antibiotic to kill food poisoning bacteria. Don’t be surprised if you see food poisoning treatment based on garlic extract.
Garlic oil is shown to have antibacterial properties against pathogenic bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Bacillus subtilis.
Garlic is also shown to have antifungal especially against Candida albicans and antiparasitic function against Entamoeba histolytica and Giardia lamblia (14).
Studies were done on two varieties of garlic “Rosato” and “Caposele”, from the Campania region in Italy showed specific antifungal properties (15).
Thus, a healthy amount of garlic consumption can be protected against parasites and fungus.
The gist: Garlic has antimicrobial properties and incorporating it in your diet can help protect against pathogenic bacteria and fungi.
7) Garlic May Improve Bone Health
Garlic can help maintain bone health, especially in women.
Studies performed on small mammals i.e. rats have shown that the garlic oil extract was helpful in preserving bone mass (16).
Another study used a sample of women in Australia indicated that the intake of garlic can reduce oxidative stress. This has implications in reducing the effects of osteoporosis in postmenopausal osteoporotic women (17).
The gist: Garlic can improve bone health by reducing oxidative stress.
8) Garlic May Protect From Gastric Cancer
Garlic has been studied for its anti-cancer effects for more than 30 years.
Studies in China and Italy on more than 1,000 individuals study samples have revealed a lower risk of gastric cancer when intake of Allium vegetables e.g. Garlic and Onion in addition to olive oil and herbs (18,19).
Analysis of seven different studies showed that the consumption of high amounts of Allium vegetables lowers the risk of gastric cancer (20).
Specially aged garlic has been shown to work better to induce gastric cancer-protective functions of garlic.
Another study that reviewed 19 studies and found little evidence for the role of garlic in lowering gastric cancer risk and suggested more study is needed to elucidate the complete function of the garlic (21).
The gist: Garlic may help in lowering gastric cancer however its role in other cancers needs more studies.
9) Garlic May Have Liver Protective Function
Many studies have evaluated the benefits of garlic in liver protection function.
It is noted that in lab animals the effects of black aged garlic can help against liver damage. However, overdose can have detrimental effects. (24).
Another study indicated that single clove garlic had a stronger protective effect than multi-clove garlic in induced liver injury in rabbit studies (25).
These studies suggest that Garlic could have long term liver-protective benefits. The gist: Use of garlic in moderation can have a liver protective function. Human studies are not conclusive.
10) Garlic Can Have Anti-inflammatory Properties
Several studies have highlighted the anti-inflammation properties of garlic where garlic extract positively affected anti-inflammatory pathways (26).
The anti-inflammatory property of garlic was useful in mitigating pain in obese or overweight women with arthritis and osteoarthritis (27).
It is noted that crushed garlic initiates a chemical reaction that culminates in the production of a very potent substance called Allicin, which is then converted to other sulfur-rich compounds that elicit anti-inflammatory properties.
Aged garlic is shown to have excellent beneficial anti-inflammatory properties as reviewed by this study (28).
The gist: Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties which have long term health benefits
11) Garlic Could Be Beneficial For Hair
Healthy hair is a sign of good health. Garlic contains many micronutrients (internal link above card) such as selenium and B-6 which are required for hair growth.
Studies in humans have shown that people who added garlic gel with steroid treatment for alopecia had better results compared to steroid alone treatment (29).
Garlic also has anti-microbial and immunomodulation properties that may help ward off bacterial and fungal pathogens (30).
The gist: Due to its antimicrobial and immune-modulatory function garlic can be good for your hair.
12) Garlic Could Assist in Maintaining a Healthy Brain
Garlic is known to reduce the LDL levels and thus helps in the reduction of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular protective function. One of the causes of Alzheimer’s is reactive oxygen species, which are chemically active agents.
Garlic active organosulfur chemical compounds such as S-allyl-cysteines and Aged garlic extract have shown neuron protective properties. This antioxidant property of garlic may help maintain healthy brain cells (31).
The gist: Due to antioxidant properties, the brain protection function of garlic has been proposed.
13) Garlic Could Provide Help in Diabetes Management
Garlic reduced pancreatic cell injury, oxidative stress, and pathological changes in laboratory-induced type 1 diabetes in rats (32).
Other studies showed that aged garlic extract had diabetes reducing the effect in rats (33).
An extensive study analysis in humans showed that garlic and its supplement play a positive and sustained role in blood glucose, total cholesterol, and high/low-density lipoprotein regulation in the management of Diabetes Type 2 (34).
Therefore, garlic and its bioactive compounds could be helpful in fighting diabetes.
The gist: Garlic can help in reducing the risk factors of diabetes, thus has a positive effect on diabetes management
14) Garlic May Promote Weight Loss
Garlic has been shown to reduce the levels of LDL and therefore it is possible that it could have fat reducing properties.
The experiment with fermented garlic extract shows that the active ingredients in garlic have anti-adipogenic activity i.e. garlic compounds suppress the formation of fat cells in rats.
Garlic oil extract has anti-obesity properties (35).
Studies in high-fat-diet rats showed a reduction of body weight in addition to decreasing LDL (36).
More studies in humans are required to fully observe the activity of the garlic in weight loss. Nonetheless, a plethora of anecdotal evidence exists in many cultures that believe in the effectiveness of garlic in weight loss.
The gist: Garlic in animal studies has shown to be beneficial in combating obesity yet human studies are insufficient to fully appreciate the effects of garlic in weight loss.
15) Garlic Can Improve Overall Health
Garlic along with other natural foods can promote bone health and muscle strength (37).
This study focused on a cohort of middle-aged women showed that a non-processed food intake that includes garlic has a positive effect on muscle and bone health.
Several studies have shown the effects of chemical compounds having beneficial effects on human health and disease protection (38).
The gist: Garlic has an overall positive effect on human health.
16) Garlic Makes Food Delicious and Enhances Flavor
Garlic gives another dimension to food. Many cultures e.g. China and India use garlic for not only medicinal purposes but also for its flavor in cooking.
Garlic compliments many foods, especially oil-based foods.
The gist: Garlic certainly gives a nice flavor to food and is a good addition to oil-based foods.
Various studies have shown that garlic has health benefits. Garlic has disease preventive properties. Garlic is good for overall health. Garlic can be used for medicinal purposes. For this reason, it could be a beneficial addition to your diet regime.
Garlic has many health benefits when taken in moderate amounts.
Overdosing can cause discomfort, upset stomach, bad breath, diarrhea and bloating.
Moreover, garlic has antithrombotic property i.e. it reduces blood clotting (39).
Therefore, patients with thrombosis should use garlic or garlic supplements with caution
If you take anticoagulants or blood thinner, garlic supplements can accentuate the effects of drugs.
Patients planning on having surgery should minimize the garlic intake to avoid bleeding-related complications (40).
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much garlic should I take daily?
It depends on the form of garlic. 7.2 grams of AGE (Aged Garlic Extract) daily for 6 months overall results in 6.1% decrease in cholesterol and 4% decrease in LDL levels as indicated by research (41).
900 mg garlic powder preparation for 6 weeks decreased triglyceride levels and increased HDL (good cholesterol) levels (42)
1 clove (3g) of fresh garlic daily for 16 weeks had affected the decrease of 20% in cholesterol levels (43).
In summary, the form of garlic is an important consideration when deciding how much garlic you should take daily.
Does garlic help sexually?
Very few studies have been performed on human male fertility. The studies in animals are contradictory. Some have shown that garlic promotes spermatogenesis, others have shown that it decreases the levels of testosterone (44).
At the moment there is no conclusive study to confirm the benefit of garlic in this regard.
What are the side effects of eating raw garlic?
It is safe to ingest 1-2 raw garlic per day. However, ingesting too much garlic can cause stomach discomfort, upset stomach and flatulence. Fresh garlic can also cause unpleasant breath (45).