25 Interesting Benefits of Raw Garlic

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

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Garlic (Allium sativum) is a strong smelling, pungent tasting herb that is noted with many health benefits. It is mainly due to the powerful it contains, allicin. Health benefits include combating the common cold, helping to lower blood pressure and, fighting heart ailments and possibly neurodegenerative disorders.

What is Garlic?

Garlic is a close relative of the onion, and is native to Central Asia. It has been used as a food-flavoring agent for many years, as well as in traditional and alternative medicines. Mankind recognized the curative qualities of this herb over 3,000 years ago. Sir Louis Pasteur, the scientist who discovered pasteurization, effectively utilized the anti-bacterial qualities of this herb as long as in 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.

Nutrition

Garlic is an herb very low in calories, saturated fats, and sodium. It contains a number of useful minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium, and iron, as well as 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
Protein [g]6.36
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.5
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]33.06
Fiber, total dietary [g]2.1
Sugars, total [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
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]31.2
Thiamin [mg]0.2
Riboflavin [mg]0.11
Niacin [mg]0.7
Vitamin B-6 [mg]1.24
Folate, DFE [µg]3
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]0
Vitamin A, IU [IU]9
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.08
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]1.7
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.09
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.25
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Benefits of Raw Garlic

The health benefits of eating raw garlic cloves are explained in greater detail below.

Alleviates Cold and Cough

A 2014 paper published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews cited a study that assessed 146 participants over a three‐month period to ascertain the impact that it had on patients suffering from cold and cough. As part of the study, the total number of participants were divided into two equal groups. One group took a placebo tablet, while the other group took a garlic tablet.

At the end of the study, it was noted 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. Therefore, eating garlic cloves may lessen the severity of common cold and cough symptoms.

 

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

Reduces Hypertension

Garlic is an herbal ingredient often used for lowering high blood pressure. When exposed to high levels of pressure, a substance in the body known as nitric oxide relaxes the blood vessels and causes them to dilate. It also fights against thrombosis by reducing platelet aggregation.

Lowers Cholesterol Levels

Raw garlic again, rich in the allicin compound effectively prevents LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidizing. Some research shows a reduction in cholesterol and triglycerides in rats consuming raw garlic. However, at this point there is not enough research to say definitively.

Boosts Heart Health

Garlic is thought to have significant cardioprotective properties, which help prevent 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 determine proper form and dosage. One should keep a close tab on the proper use of garlic 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.

Prevents 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. Additionally, it also prevents the signs of toxicity, such as headaches and blood pressure. Sulfur also aids 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. Of course, if you are ever concerned about heavy metal poisoning, it is best to consult a medical professional for a course of action.

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.

Bone Health

Herbs like garlic and onion are thought to impact estrogen levels in menopausal women, reducing the risk of osteoarthritis. They may also minimize bone loss and improve overall bone health.

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. It is thought to 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 significantly reduced blood sugar levels in one animal study. Thus, it may prove to be a boon to those suffering from diabetes or at a higher risk of developing diabetes.

Boosts Immunity

Garlic has phytonutrients that help reduce oxidative stress, thereby, strengthening your immunity. Furthermore, the herb reduces fatigue, as well as increases energy and longevity. A 2012 report in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines revealed a study that was conducted on rats to ascertain if garlic plays a contributory role in enhancing immune function. After garlic (Allium sativum) extracts were administered to rats at different concentrations it was discovered that the extracts, especially at higher concentration, 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.

Prevents Acne

Garlic, along with other ingredients like honey, cream, and turmeric, can be used as a home remedy for acne scars and even preventing the onset of acne. This herb is an effective skin cleanser and an antibiotic substance that helps resolve a number of 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

Homeopathic remedies consider that boiled garlic cloves are effective in reducing the symptoms of asthma. It is thought that each night before going to sleep, drinking a glass of milk with three boiled cloves of this herb can bring subsequent relief for patients with asthma. Asthma attacks may be brought under control by having crushed cloves with malt vinegar as well.

Increases Libido

The herb has certain aphrodisiac and libido-inducing properties, so it can be utilized as an effective rejuvenator for sex. People who tend to overindulge in sexual activities should consume garlic to protect themselves from fatigue.

Health benefits of garlic - infographic

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 up 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 thought to aid in weight loss and reducing obesity. In animal models, it reduced the expression of genes that are involved in adipogenesis, which leads 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, rich in S-ally-mercapto cysteine (SAMC) and antioxidants, 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. So, consuming garlic regularly may reduce the occurrence of these infections.

Prevents Hair Loss

It is thought that the herb helps in preventing hair loss and promoting hair growth. Regular application of garlic gel or garlic-infused coconut oil is considered by many aids 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 help with Heliobacter pylori infection, tick bites, jock itch, and athlete’s foot. due to its antibacterial effects.

Prevents Peptic Ulcer

The antibacterial compounds present in garlic can eliminate stomach parasites that cause peptic ulcers. (See above antibacterial and antiparasitic effects.)

Relieves Ear Aches

Due to its antiviral, antifungal, and antibiotic properties, this herb is commonly used for giving relief from earaches and ear infections.

Splinters

Traditionally, garlic has been used as a home remedy for dealing with stubborn splinters. Place a cut piece of its clove over the splinter cut, bandage it, and see the splinter and pain disappear!

How to Use Garlic?

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

  • It can be chopped, crushed, sliced, or juiced. Cutting garlic activates alliinase enzymes which are highly beneficial to health.
  • You can use it in salads, soups, and stews, and on vegetable, fish, and meat.
  • The herb is also an essential ingredient in various toothpaste and mouthwashes as it helps prevent tooth cavity and oral bacteria.

Word of Caution: Excess intake of this herb may cause irritation in the digestive system. Another drawback is its pungent smell and taste that leaves bad breath, so be aware if consuming it in excess.

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve is a health and wellness enthusiast and started working on Organic Facts since 2012 and is currently responsible for managing it. She follows naturopathy and believes in healing with foods. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University. 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. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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