Garlic is a strong-smelling, flavoring herb noted for its many health benefits. It contains a powerful compound called allicin that can help to lower cholesterol. The health benefits of garlic may include easing the symptoms of the common cold, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the risk of heart ailments as well as neurodegenerative disorders.
The purpose of a garlic clove is 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.
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.
|Serving Size :|
|Total lipid (fat) [g]||0.5|
|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|
|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|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]||0.01|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]||0.25|
|Aspartic acid [g]||0.49|
|Glutamic acid [g]||0.81|
|Sources include : USDA|
Health Benefits of Raw Garlic
Let’s look at the health benefits of garlic below.
May Ease 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.
Might Reduce 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.
Might Help To Lower Cholesterol Levels
Raw garlic, rich in the allicin compound, can prevent 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.
May Boost Heart Health
Garlic has significant cardioprotective properties, which can help to 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.
May Help To Prevent Neurodegenerative Diseases
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 can help in preventing the risk of cardiovascular ailments and stroke. However, further studies are required to identify particular garlic compounds responsible for its effects.
Can reduce the Risk of Dementia
Oxidative damage can play 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 can possibly reduce lead levels in the blood. They may also prevent the signs of toxicity, such as headaches and blood pressure, and also can 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 can be effective in reducing blood and tissue lead concentrations among human beings and animals alike.
Can Heal Wounds
It can act as an effective herbal remedy for the infected wound. Place 2 crushed cloves on the infected area to get instant relief.
May 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 can reduce oxidative stress in the pathophysiology of many diseases such as osteoporosis.
Might Boost Digestion
Daily inclusion of raw garlic cloves in your diet can aid digestive problems. Even inflammation or irritation of the gastric canal may be reduced using this herb. Garlic might help to 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 can also help to relieve stomach gas.
Can Regulate Blood Sugar
Eating raw garlic cloves may reduce blood sugar levels, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition.
May Boost Immunity
Garlic has phytonutrients that can help to reduce oxidative stress, strengthening your immunity. The herb may also reduce fatigue and boost 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.
May Aid in Eye Care
May Help Prevent Acne
Garlic, along with other ingredients like honey, cream, and turmeric, can be used as a home remedy for acne scars and blocking the onset of acne. This herb may be effective in skin cleanser and an antibiotic substance that can help to resolve several skin conditions, including skin rashes, psoriasis, cold sores, and blisters. Additionally, it can also help in cell synthesis, protecting against UV rays, and delaying aging.
Other benefits of this herb may include reducing the symptoms of asthma, increasing libido, and hair loss, among others.
Can Control Asthma
Eating boiled garlic cloves can be 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.
May Promote 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 leads to the formation of fat cells. The herb increased thermogenesis which can help to burn fat and reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. This research has positive implications for reducing obesity in humans.
May Prevent 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.
Might Reduce UTI and Kidney Infections
Garlic may prevent the growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a pathogen responsible for recurring urinary tract infections (UTI) and kidney infections. Fresh garlic extract can also be used to prevent the growth of candida vaginitis and E. coli infection.
May Prevent 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.
May Have 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.
Might Prevent Peptic Ulcer
The antibacterial compounds present in the herb can eliminate stomach parasites that cause peptic ulcers.
May Relieve Ear Aches
Due to the herb’s antiviral, antifungal, and antibiotic properties, it can be 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 cavities and oral bacteria.
Word of Caution: Excessive intake may irritate the digestive system. Also, garlic can cause bad breath.