14 Powerful Benefits of Raw Garlic

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Garlic is a strong-smelling, flavoring herb noted for its many health benefits. It contains a powerful compound called allicin that helps lower cholesterol. The health benefits of garlic include easing the symptoms of common cold, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the risk of heart ailments as well as neurodegenerative disorders.

The purpose of a garlic clove are aplenty. Right from cooking purposes to medicinal uses, it is truly an all-rounder when it comes to choosing to eat healthily. Moreover, it adds a delightful flavor to all your recipes. Also, you can consume garlic in a variety of forms – such as garlic bread, garlic aioli, garlic mashed potatoes, and so on. With so many different uses, let us explore the health benefits of garlic in detail.

What is Garlic?

Garlic, scientifically known as Allium sativum, is a close relative of the onion and is native to Central Asia. The garlic bulb contains several cloves and each clove is covered with a soft translucent peel. Garlic has been used as a seasoning in food as well as a traditional remedy for over 3,000 years. Sir Louis Pasteur, the scientist who discovered pasteurization, used the anti-bacterial qualities of this herb as early as 1858. A report in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Research suggested that one clove per day may bring a vast improvement in your overall health, while two to three cloves daily could help keep the common cold at bay.

Sliced garlic, garlic clove, garlic bulb in a wooden bowl placed on a chopping board

Garlic cloves Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition

Garlic is very low in calories, saturated fats, and sodium. It has several useful minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium, and iron, and trace minerals like iodine, sulfur, and chlorine. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, garlic is a rich source of B-vitamins (folate, thiamine, niacin, and B-6), and vitamins C, A, and K. Garlic is one of the rare dietary sources of organic compounds, allicin, allisatin 1, and allisatin 2.

Nutrition Facts

Garlic, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]58.58
Energy [kcal]149
Energy [kJ]623
Protein [g]6.36
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.5
Ash [g]1.5
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]33.06
Fiber, total dietary [g]2.1
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]1
Calcium, Ca [mg]181
Iron, Fe [mg]1.7
Magnesium, Mg [mg]25
Phosphorus, P [mg]153
Potassium, K [mg]401
Sodium, Na [mg]17
Zinc, Zn [mg]1.16
Copper, Cu [mg]0.3
Manganese, Mn [mg]1.67
Selenium, Se [µg]14.2
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]31.2
Thiamin [mg]0.2
Riboflavin [mg]0.11
Niacin [mg]0.7
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.6
Vitamin B-6 [mg]1.24
Folate, total [µg]3
Folate, food [µg]3
Folate, DFE [µg]3
Choline, total [mg]23.2
Carotene, beta [µg]5
Vitamin A, IU [IU]9
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]16
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.08
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]1.7
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.09
10:0 [g]0
16:0 [g]0.09
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.01
18:1 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.25
18:2 [g]0.23
18:3 [g]0.02
Tryptophan [g]0.07
Threonine [g]0.16
Isoleucine [g]0.22
Leucine [g]0.31
Lysine [g]0.27
Methionine [g]0.08
Cystine [g]0.07
Phenylalanine [g]0.18
Tyrosine [g]0.08
Valine [g]0.29
Arginine [g]0.63
Histidine [g]0.11
Alanine [g]0.13
Aspartic acid [g]0.49
Glutamic acid [g]0.81
Glycine [g]0.2
Proline [g]0.1
Serine [g]0.19
Sources include : USDA

Health Benefits of Raw Garlic

Let’s look at the health benefits of garlic below.

Eases Cold and Cough

A 2014 paper published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews cited a study that assessed 146 participants over three months to find out the impact it had on patients suffering from cold and cough. As part of the study, researchers divided the total number of participants into two equal groups. One group took a placebo tablet while the other group took a garlic tablet. At the end of the study, researchers found that people who took garlic every day for three months instead of a placebo had fewer bouts of cold as compared with the placebo group.

Reduces Hypertension

According to a 2014 report in the Integrated Blood Pressure Control journal, aged garlic extract has the ability to lower blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. However, further studies are required to verify if they can be considered an alternative therapy for hypertension.

Lowers Cholesterol Levels

Raw garlic, rich in the allicin compound, prevents LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidizing. Research shows a reduction in cholesterol and triglycerides in rats consuming raw garlic. However, there is not enough research to verify this health benefit definitively.

Boosts Heart Health

Garlic has significant cardioprotective properties, which help prevent major heart diseases like atherosclerosis, hyperlipidemia, thrombosis, hypertension, and more. While most reviewed research supports the correlation between garlic intake and cardioprotection, per the Nutrition Journal study, further research is needed to decide proper form and dosage. One should keep a close tab on the proper use of this herb i.e. use of different preparations available, dose, duration, and its interaction with generic drugs.

Neuroprotective Properties

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of raw garlic may help prevent future neurodegenerative diseases. As per a study in the Libyan Journal of Medicine, garlic and its preparations help in preventing the risk of cardiovascular ailments, cancer, and stroke. However, further studies are required to identify particular garlic compounds responsible for its effects.

Reduces the Risk of Dementia

Oxidative damage plays a huge role in cardiovascular diseases and dementia, as the risk of these diseases increases with age. Aged garlic extract (AGE) has antioxidant properties that may help reduce the risk of common brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. High doses of AGE have shown to increase antioxidant enzymes, as well as reduce oxidative stress to those with blood pressure problems.

May Help Prevent Heavy Metal Poisoning

High doses of garlic may prevent organ damage caused by heavy metals. The sulfur compounds in this herb drastically reduce lead levels in the blood. They also prevent the signs of toxicity, such as headaches and blood pressure, and also aid in better absorption of iron and zinc in the blood. A 2012 report published in Basic and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology reveals that garlic is effective in reducing blood and tissue lead concentrations among human beings and animals alike.

Heals Wounds

It acts as an effective herbal remedy for the infected wound. Place 2 crushed cloves on the infected area to get instant relief.

Improves Bone Health

Herbs like garlic and onion may impact estrogen levels in menopausal women, reducing the risk of osteoarthritis. They may also minimize bone loss and improve overall bone health in both men and women. Also according to a study in the Electronic Physician journal, garlic consumption reduces oxidative stress in the pathophysiology of many diseases such as osteoporosis.

Boosts Digestion

Daily inclusion of raw garlic cloves in your diet aids digestive problems. Even inflammation or irritation of the gastric canal may be reduced using this herb. Garlic helps clear up most intestinal problems like dysentery, diarrhea, and colitis. Its role in dispelling worms is phenomenal. It does not affect the good bacteria in the intestine but destroys the harmful ones. It not only enhances digestion but also helps relieve stomach gas.

Regulates Blood Sugar

Eating raw garlic cloves reduced blood sugar levels, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Boosts Immunity

Garlic has phytonutrients that help reduce oxidative stress, strengthening your immunity. The herb also reduces fatigue and boosts energy. A 2012 report in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines revealed a study conducted on rats to ascertain if garlic played a contributory role in enhancing immune function. Researchers discovered that the extracts significantly increased white blood cell counts and showed more immune-stimulating effects.

Eye Care

It is rich in nutrients like selenium, quercetinand vitamin C, all of which contribute to eye health and help with eye infections and inflammation.

May Help Prevent Acne

Garlic, along with other ingredients like honey, cream, and turmeric, is used as a home remedy for acne scars and blocking the onset of acne. This herb is an effective skin cleanser and an antibiotic substance that helps resolve several skin conditions, including skin rashes, psoriasis, cold sores, and blisters. Additionally, it also helps in cell synthesis, protecting against UV rays, and in delaying aging.

Other Benefits

Other benefits of this herb include reducing the symptoms of asthma, increasing libido, and hair loss, among others.

Controls Asthma

Eating boiled garlic cloves is considered an effective homeopathic remedy to reduce the symptoms of asthma. Another suggested remedy is drinking a glass of milk with three boiled cloves each night before going to sleep. It can bring subsequent relief for patients with asthma. Asthma attacks may be brought under control by having crushed cloves with malt vinegar as well. However, it is advisable to check with an expert before trying these treatments at home.

Anticancer Potential

A 2013 report published in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology revealed that garlic contains a compound called diallyl trisulfide (DATS) that is an effective therapeutic agent in preventing tumor progression. More research is needed, given the animal subject population of this study; however, it points that regular intake of garlic may reduce the risk of a variety of cancer. It aids in reducing the production of carcinogenic compounds, and also reduces the occurrence of tumors associated with breast cancer.

Weight Loss

For years, garlic has been used as a remedy for weight loss. In animal models, it reduced the expression of genes that are involved in adipogenesis that lead to the formation of fat cells. The herb increased thermogenesis which helps burn fat and reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. This research has positive implications for reducing obesity in humans.

Prevents Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver

Garlic is rich in S-ally-mercapto cysteine (SAMC) and antioxidants which can help prevent fatty liver, according to an animal study. These compounds may also reduce the risk of hepatic injury. Further research is needed to confirm these hepatic benefits.

Reduces UTI and Kidney Infections

Garlic prevents the growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a pathogen responsible for recurring urinary tract infections (UTI) and kidney infections. Fresh garlic extract is also used to prevent the growth of candida vaginitis and E. coli infection.

Prevents Hair Loss

The herb may help in preventing hair loss and promoting hair growth. Regular application of garlic gel or garlic-infused coconut oil may aid with conditions like alopecia. However, limited information and research on this connection exist, therefore more studies are needed to confirm the scientific association.

Antibacterial and Antiparasitic Effects 

Garlic extracts may help with Helicobacter pylori infection, tick bites, jock itch, and athlete’s foot due to its antibacterial effects.

Prevents Peptic Ulcer

The antibacterial compounds present in the herb can eliminate stomach parasites that cause peptic ulcers.

Relieves Ear Aches

Due to the herb’s antiviral, antifungal, and antibiotic properties, it is commonly used for giving relief from earache and ear infections.

How to Use Garlic?

The herb may be consumed raw, but the taste is so potent that most people usually prefer cooking it or adding it to various dishes before eating.

  • You can chop, crush, slice, mince, or even juice garlic. Cutting it activates the alliinase enzyme that is highly beneficial to health.
  • Minced garlic gives a delicious, fragrant aroma when warmed in olive oil. This can form a base for soups, stews, and curries. It is one of the main ingredients in a good pasta sauce.
  • The herb is also an essential ingredient in various kinds of toothpaste and mouthwashes as it helps prevent tooth cavity and oral bacteria.

Word of Caution: Excessive intake may irritate the digestive system. Also, garlic can cause bad breath.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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