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10 Proven Health Benefits of Garlic That You Need to Know About

Garlic, or allium, is hard to beat for health benefits.  Not only is garlic healthy, it enhances the flavor of most foods.  It’s no surprise that garlic is found in almost every type of cuisine across the globe.  It grows easily, and has few pests in nature, making it less likely to contain chemical pesticides or herbicides as well.

People have been known to eat garlic for thousands of years.  There is evidence that garlic was being eaten by the people building the pyramids over 5000 years ago.

Thousands of studies have been conducted about the health benefits of garlic, showing over and over that garlic is a formidable foe against illness and disease.

Supplementation of garlic is popular as well because of its many health benefits. Aged garlic extract has more health benefits than powdered garlic supplements.1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1093/jn/136.3.741S
Fresh garlic is generally better than dried garlic for health benefits as well.

Supplementation of garlic has a high safety profile.  However, garlic may have blood-thinning effects, so always talk with your doctor before starting garlic supplements.2✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 25050296

1. Garlic and Weight Loss

Several animal studies support the link between garlic and healthy body weight.

For example, aged garlic extract alone and with exercise reduced body weight and liver fat in rats.  Using both exercise and garlic was the most effective compared to either therapy alone.3✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.4162/nrp.2012.6.6.513

Both garlic and onion oil reduced obesity and dangerous blood fats in a study of rats.4✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1186/s12986-018-0275-x

Garlic reduced obesity in overfed rats by increasing body temperature and decreased the genes that make fat tissue (white adipose tissue).5✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.3945/jn.111.146050

Liver health is important for a healthy weight. Supplemental garlic reduced liver damage due to toxins and medications by improving antioxidant status in an animal study.6✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 25050296

These findings for liver health are important for weight management because the liver helps process food and nutrients.

Garlic seems to help promote healthy weight in people too.  Garlic reduced body weight and body fat in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in a randomized clinical trial of 110 patients.7✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.4103/2277-9175.174962

2. Garlic and Heart Disease

Garlic is widely known to reduce risk of heart disease in people consuming larger amounts of it, such as in the Mediterranean regions.

Aged garlic reduced hardening of the arteries and reduced deposit of cholesterol and fat into the artery wall in a rat study.8✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.3945/jn.114.206953

Garlic may also benefit the heart by reducing cholesterol, arterial calcification, blood pressure, diabetes, and excessive clotting.9✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-1-4
DOI: 10.1093/jn/136.3.741S

Indian ancient medicine recommended garlic for the treatment of heart disease and arthritis for many centuries.

Human studies using garlic have found positive effects against abnormal clotting.11✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-1-4
Excessive clotting is often a culprit for heart attacks and strokes.

Garlic reduces the formation of thromboxane, a pro-clotting factor, and oxidized types of fat(lipoxygenase products) formed in platelets.

3. Garlic and Cholesterol

Garlic supplementation helps reduce total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides as shown in many studies.  It also helps increase HDL levels.12✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1080/16546628.2017.1377571

Over 40 studies have found that garlic supplementation is beneficial for cholesterol levels.13✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-1-4

Most studies have used garlic powder, but fresh and aged garlic or garlic oil have the potential to have even stronger benefits.

Favorable changes in LDL-cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol level were seen in most research trials in people.  Between 11–26% decrease in LDL-cholesterol were seen throughout the studies.

Garlic has 3 ways that it helps reduce bad cholesterol.  1. It keeps cholesterol from the damages of oxidation.  2. Compounds in garlic, including S-allyl cystein and diallyl-di-sulfide, reduce the liver’s production of cholesterol, and 3. Garlic increases the body’s ability to remove cholesterol.

4. Garlic and Blood Pressure

A large compilation study of almost 1000 patients showed that garlic supplementation reduced blood pressure.  The effect of blood pressure benefit was even stronger for those patients starting out with high blood pressure.14✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.3945/jn.114.202192

Garlic may reduce blood pressure by increasing circulation of blood in the body, as shown in rat study.15✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1111/jphp.12865

A recent study found that raw crushed garlic reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people with metabolic syndrome.16✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1080/19390211.2017.1358233

Garlic has effects similar to hormones (prostaglandins), which could improve blood flow. Compounds in garlic have some effects similar to blood pressure drugs known as ACE inhibitors. Garlic may also improve blood pressure by creating more relaxation in pulmonary arteries by increasing nitric oxide levels as well.

5. Garlic and Diabetes

A meta-analysis study of  728 people with Type 2 diabetes found that supplemental garlic reduced fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1C levels.17✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1080/16546628.2017.1377571

The research studies used garlic powder, which has the primary active compound called allicin. The doses varied between 0.5 to 1.5 grams per day.

These reductions were seen at both 2 weeks,  12 weeks, and 24 after supplements began, which suggests that the benefits of garlic on diabetes symptoms may be long-lasting.

The patients with diabetes also benefited from garlic because they had improvements in cholesterol as well. Other studies have shown benefits of garlic for weight loss as well.

Garlic may help the pancreas make and use insulin, and improves the use of insulin in the body (reduces insulin resistance) as well.

6. Garlic and Cancer

Garlic, especially when eaten raw, reduces risk of cancer.  Risk of digestive cancers are reduced by garlic, including stomach, colorectal, and esophageal cancer.  Garlic reduces prostate, ovarian, and endometrial cancer risk as well.18✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0172

Garlic is a great source of antioxidants, which may be why it seems to reduce risk of cancer.  It also may reduce initiation and promotion of cancer growth.  Garlic also increases the body’s ability to make its own antioxidants, which may reduce cancer growth.19✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_437_17

Garlic also may enhance the effectiveness of cancer treatments.  In both animal and cell studies, garlic reduced the growth of cancer and also enhanced the effectiveness of cancer treatment.20✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.3390/nu10040450

High intake of garlic is related to a reduced risk of stomach cancer in a study that observed over 20,000 people’s usual food intake.21✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1080/01635581.2015.967873

A study of about 6000 patients showed that eating raw garlic at least 2 times a week reduced lung cancer risk by about 50%.22✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-13-0015

7. Garlic and the Immune System

The immune system is very complex and involves the ability to fight unwanted germs, regulate inflammation, and more. Garlic helps the immune system in numerous ways.

Garlic has many strong antioxidant benefits.  These antioxidants improve the immune response and reduce inflammation in the body. It also increases the immune response of immune cells in the body.

Garlic also has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-parasitic action in the body.23✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 25050296

Garlic doesn’t harm beneficial intestinal microbiota, but helps the body fight bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are harmful in the digestive tract.

Garlic also helps scavenge dangerous free radicals, which may help prevent damage in the body due to inflammation.24✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1186/1475-2891-1-4

However, some people do have an allergic response or sensitivity to lectins in garlic. If you have sensitivity, it is best to avoid.

 8. Garlic and Infections

The sulfur-containing substances, including allicin, in garlic are antibacterial.  They are effective against some very harmful drug-resistant strains of bacteria including methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and some strains of E. Coli.25✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1016/s1286-4579(99)80003-3

Garlic has been beneficial in treating H. Pylori infection as well as bacterial vaginitis in clinical studies.26✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 27761418
DOI: 10.5812/ircmj.19118

Garlic is known to also have some anti-viral effects as well. Garlic may reduce occurrence and days of sickness with the common cold, although more evidence is needed.28✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 25050296

Garlic has anti-fungal effects against candida in cell studies.  Candida is a fungus that can create illness throughout the digestive tract, from the mouth and throughout the large intestine.  Additionally, garlic may help fight giardia infections and candida infections as shown in clinical study.29✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
PMID: 25050296

 9. Garlic for Skin and Hair

Garlic has many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.  These effects are well-known to help keep skin healthy and protect the skin from premature aging.

Garlic may also be helpful for reducing symptoms of psoriasis, help with wound healing, and reduce skin damage from sun exposure.  Garlic may help protect against skin cancer as well.30✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.4103/0973-7847.125531

Additionally, it helps potentially reduce dangerous skin infection known as methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).31✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1093/jac/dkg476

The effects on other skin infection are promising too.

A type of hair loss called alopecia is difficult to treat.  In a clinical study, hair growth was improved compared to placebo using a topical garlic gel along with standard treatment in a clinical study.32✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.4103/0378-6323.30648

Most research related to the benefits of garlic and skin is preliminary.

10. Garlic and Memory

Much of the increase in dementia over the last couple of decades is thought to be related to lifestyle.  Garlic is a tasty tool that may reduce risk of memory loss.

Garlic may promote memory and brain function by protecting our DNA from damage, protect from age-related loss of brain function, and help support healthy brain tissue with antioxidants.33✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1093/jn/131.3.1010S

Garlic extract improved memory in diabetic mice and also helped retain learning. Garlic also improved memory even when rats were exposed to lead.34✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1155/2017/3720380
DOI: 10.1080/01480545.2016.1197238

Garlic may reduce the damages of lead to the brain by reducing oxidative damage to the tissue.

In obese rats and diabetic rats, garlic improved brain function and memory by improving the function of the energy-producing part of the cell called the mitochondria in the brain.36✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2014-0255

Nutrients in Garlic

Garlic is rich in minerals like selenium and sulfur.  Sulfur compounds in garlic are part of what give garlic its strong medicinal benefits.  Garlic also contains magnesium, potassium, vitamin E, glutathione, and vitamin C. Garlic is rich in many types of antioxidants as well.37✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0172

  • Sulfur, as a nutrient, helps the body resist bacteria. It is also involved in helping the body make proteins and enzymes to function properly.
  • Selenium is a mineral that is also a potent antioxidant for the body. It helps protect from the damages of pollution and more.
  • Magnesium is a calming mineral that has over 300 functions in the body.
  • Vitamin C helps rebuild tissue and helps make skin stay youthful by building collagen.
  • Glutathione, selenium, and vitamin E are some of the many antioxidants in garlic that protect the body.
10 Proven Health Benefits Of Garlic That You Need To Know About

Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay