Garlic is a plant in the onion family that’s grown for its distinctive taste and health benefits. It contains sulfur compounds, which are believed to bring many of the health benefits. Here are 10 health benefits of garlic that are supported by human research. Garlic grows in many parts of the world and is a popular ingredient in cooking due to its strong smell and delicious taste.
Garlic is very easy to include 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. A common way to use garlic is to press a few cloves of fresh garlic with a garlic press, then mix it with extra virgin olive oil and a bit of salt.
This a healthy and super satisfying dressing.
Learn how to plant, grow and harvest garlic in your on garden: plantingathome.com
1. Garlic Contains Compounds with Potent Medicinal Properties
Scientists now know that most of its health benefits are caused by sulfur compounds formed when a garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed. Perhaps the most famous of those is known as allicin. However, allicin is an unstable compound that is only briefly present in fresh garlic after it’s been cut or crushed. Other compounds that may play a role in garlic’s health benefits include diallyl disulfide and s-allyl cysteine. The sulfur compounds from garlic enter the body from the digestive tract and travel all over the body, where it exerts its potent biological effects.
2. Garlic is Highly Nutritious but has Very Few Calories
One clove (3 grams) of raw garlic contains:
- Manganese: 2% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin B6: 2% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 1% of the DV
- Selenium: 1% of the DV
- Fiber: 0.06 grams
- Decent amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B1
This comes with 4.5 calories, 0.2 grams of protein and 1 gram of carbs.
Garlic also contains trace amounts of various other nutrients. In fact, it contains a little bit of almost everything you need.
3. Garlic can Combat Sickness, Including the Common Cold
Garlic supplements are known to boost the function of the immune system. Garlic supplements help prevent and reduce the severity of common illnesses like the flu and common cold. Adding garlic to your diet may be worth trying if you often get colds.
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 supplements to have a significant impact on reducing blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. Supplement doses must be fairly high to have the desired effects. The amount needed is equivalent to about four cloves of garlic per day.
5. Garlic Improves Cholesterol Levels, Which May Lower the Risk of Heart Disease
Garlic supplements seem 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 supplements have been shown to increase antioxidant enzymes in humans, as well as significantly reduce oxidative stress in those with high blood pressure.
7. Garlic May Help you Live Longer
The potential effects of garlic 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.
8. Athletic Performance Might Be Improved With Garlic Supplements
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 laborers. Most notably, it was given to Olympic athletes in ancient Greece.
Rodent studies have shown that garlic helps with exercise performance, but very few human studies have been done. People with heart disease who took garlic oil for 6 weeks had a 12% reduction in peak heart rate and better exercise capacity. Other studies suggest that exercise-induced fatigue may be reduced with garlic.
9. Eating Garlic may 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%. 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 reducing symptoms.
10. Garlic May Improve Bone Health
No human studies 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 supplement may have beneficial effects on bone health in women.