While most people associate garlic with its strong flavor, it also has many health benefits. From the earliest days, garlic has been used to prevent the common flu and treat many health conditions.
Garlic is known to make the immune system stronger and may help fight off infections and viruses. Additionally, garlic has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (1) that can help protect against heart disease and cancer. Garlic is undeniably one of the best food ingredients available.
In this article, I’ve compiled a list of surprising health benefits (8) of garlic that will blow your mind. And I’m going to share with you how you can get these excellent health benefits from consuming garlic every day.
Garlic contains sulfur compounds (2) called thiosulfinate, which help fight bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. It is also rich in antioxidants which protect against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and other chronic diseases. 100 grams of garlic contains:
- 143 calories
- 28 grams of carbohydrates
- 2.7 grams of fiber
- 6.6 grams of protein
- 0.38 grams of fat
- 10 milligrams of vitamin C
Additionally, it contains 9.8 micrograms of Selenium, equivalent to 18% of the daily recommended intake. Selenium is an essential micronutrient that plays a role in synthesizing antioxidant enzymes.
Contain Compounds With Potent Medicinal Properties (6)
Garlic contains several active ingredients, including:
- Allicin – An essential compound in garlic. Allicin is responsible for garlic’s strong odor and pungent taste. It serves as a health aid during times of illness.
- Sulforaphane – An antioxidant found in raw garlic (3). Sulforaphane helps protect against damage caused by free radicals.
- Diallyl sulfide – A sulfur-based compound with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects. It protects against heart disease and cancer.
Other compounds in garlic include:
- Lipoic acid – An antioxidant that helps protect against diabetes, aging, and neurological disorders.
- Quercetin – An antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
- Folic acid – A water-soluble vitamin that helps the body produce new cells.
- Vitamin C – A water-soluble vitamin that is essential for the immune system.
- Vitamin E – A vitamin that can be stored in fat and has antioxidant properties. It is used to treat skin conditions and is necessary for the health of red blood cells.
Help Protect Against Illnesses Including Common Cold and Flu
Garlic is often considered a natural antibiotic. It is because garlic can fight off bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Aged garlic extract is effective against the common cold, influenza, and other respiratory infections.
Can Reduce Blood Pressure
Aged garlic extract (4) is believed to activate the production of the endothelium-derived relaxation factor due to the herb’s high amount of sulfur-rich polysulfides leading to smooth muscle relaxation and the widening of blood vessels. This widening can help to lower blood pressure (4).
In healthy individuals, aged garlic extract seems to be safe and effective. Unlike fresh garlic (5) or other garlic supplements, it did not raise the risk of bleeding in people taking warfarin, according to one clinical trial.
Improves Cholesterol, Lowering Heart Disease Risk
Heart disease is more likely to happen if you have high cholesterol. Garlic can help lower cholesterol levels by preventing the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Additionally, garlic increases HDL (good) cholesterol levels (6).
Moreover, doctors at Emory University have discovered that diallyl trisulfide can help protect the heart during surgery and after a heart attack. They are researching the possibility that trisulfides can be used to treat heart failure. In animal experiments using laboratory mice, the team found that after a heart attack, the mice receiving diallyl sulfide had 61% less heart damage in an area of risk than the untreated mice.
Helps Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Works as an Anti-inflammatory Agent
Garlic has been shown to reduce inflammation. It may be due to its high concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin. One study found that aged garlic extract was as effective as ibuprofen’s in reducing inflammation caused by arthritis.
Clears up the Skin
One of the sulfur-containing compounds in garlic (7), allicin, is thought to be responsible for its ability to clear up skin. Allicin has antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help to treat acne and other skin conditions.
Improves Athletic Performance
Garlic has been shown to improve exercise performance. It is thought to be due to the ability of garlic to increase levels of nitric oxide in the blood. Nitric oxide helps blood vessels (9) relax, which makes blood flow better.
Help Prevent Cancer
The compounds found in garlic have been shown to reduce the risk of various types of cancer. These include stomach, ovarian, rectal, and colon cancer. Additionally, garlic appears to boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs.
May Improve Bone Health
A long-term study involving more than 1,000 healthy female twins found that those whose dietary habits included plenty of fruit and vegetables, “particularly alliums such as garlic,” had fewer signs of early osteoarthritis in the hip joint. The study’s authors are excited about the potential for using compounds that exist in garlic to develop treatments for osteoarthritis.
It Improves Digestion
Garlic is a fantastic herb that fights infections. It helps cleanse the digestive system by destroying harmful bacteria and protecting beneficial bacteria. Plus, it has diallyl sulfide.
A paper was published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy regarding diallyl sulfide, a compound in garlic that is roughly 100 times more powerful than two powerful antibiotics used to fight the Campylobacter bacterium. The Campylobacter bacterium is one of the most common causes of intestinal infections.
Balances Blood Sugar Level
Garlic has also been found to be effective in helping diabetics and cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a leading cause of death among diabetes patients. It is a chronic disease of the myocardium (heart muscle), which is abnormally thickened, enlarged, or stiffened. Researchers have found that garlic oil has a significant potential to protect hearts from diabetes-induced cardiomyopathy, but human trials are necessary to verify these claims.
Raw or Cooked Garlic: Which One Is Better?
There are two different ways of thinking about garlic: those who prefer raw garlic for its intense flavor and those who prefer cooked garlic for its mellow taste. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks. Raw garlic is more potent and provides more antioxidants, but it can be challenging to digest. Cooked garlic is less intense, but it loses some of its nutritional value. Ultimately, the best way to eat garlic is whichever way you enjoy it the most. If you like the way raw garlic tastes, then go ahead and add it to your salads or use it as a dipping sauce. If cooked garlic is more your style, don’t be afraid to add it to your favorite recipes. Either way, you’ll benefit from this delicious and healthy herb.
Should You Take Garlic Supplements?
Garlic supplements are a popular way to get the benefits of garlic without having to eat it. But there is some disagreement about whether garlic supplements work or not. Some studies have shown that garlic supplements can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and improve circulation. Other studies have shown the opposite. Additional side effects of garlic supplements include bad breath, heartburn, and nausea. Overall, garlic is a healthy food that has many benefits. However, it is still best to consult your doctor before taking any supplement — especially a daily supplement.
Want to know how you can include garlic in your daily meals? Get a FREE copy of my Superfood Cookbook.
- 11 Proven Health Benefits of Garlic (healthline.com)
- The Health Benefits of Garlic – Consumer Reports
- Health Effects of Garlic – American Family Physician (aafp.org)
- Potential Health Benefit of Garlic Based on Human Intervention Studies: A Brief Overview – PubMed (nih.gov)
- GARLIC: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews (webmd.com)
- Chemists Shed Light On Health Benefits Of Garlic — ScienceDaily
- Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects – PMC (nih.gov)
- Garlic: Proven health benefits and uses (medicalnewstoday.com)
- 6 Garlic Benefits To Boost Your Health – Cleveland Clinic