“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.”

These are famous words of the ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, often referred to as the father of Western medicine.

Indeed, he prescribed garlic to treat a variety of medical conditions. And … many of its beneficial health effects have recently been confirmed by modern medicine.

 

Following are 11 health benefits of garlic, which are supported by human research

1. Garlic contains allicin, a substance with powerful medicinal properties

Garlic is a plant in the Allium (onion) family.

It is closely related to onions, shallots and leeks. It grows in many parts of the world and is a popular ingredient in cooking because of its strong aroma and delicious taste.

But in ancient times, garlic was mainly used for its medicinal and health-promoting properties.

Its use has been well documented by all major civilizations… including the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese.

 

2. Garlic is very nutritious, but contains very few calories

Garlic is incredibly nutritious. One ounce (28 grams) serving contains (3):

manganese: 23% of the RDI
vitamin B6: 17% of the RDI
vitamin C: 15% of the RDI
selenium: 6% of the RDI
fiber: 1 gram
Quite a bit of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B1
Garlic also contains small amounts of a variety of other nutrients. It actually contains a little bit of everything we need.

It also contains 42 calories, with 1.8 grams of protein and 9 grams of carbohydrates.

 

3. Garlic can fight illnesses, including a cold

Garlic is known to boost immune system function. A large 12-week study found that taking a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63%, compared to a placebo (4).

The mean duration of cold symptoms was also reduced by 70%, from 5 days on a placebo to just 1.5 days in the garlic group.

Another study found that a high dose of garlic extract (2.56 grams per day) reduced the number of days of illness caused by a cold or flu by 61%.

If you often have a cold, adding garlic to your diet could be very helpful.

 

4. The active ingredients in garlic can lower blood pressure

Cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes are the leading causes of death in the world. High blood pressure is one of the main drivers of these diseases. Human studies have shown that garlic supplementation makes a significant contribution to lowering blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.

One study found that a dose of 600-1500 mg of garlic extract per day for 24 weeks was just as effective in lowering blood pressure as the drug Atenolol.

The dose has to be quite high to achieve these desired effects. The amount of allicin needed is equal to about 4 cloves of garlic per day.

 

5. Garlic improves cholesterol levels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease

Garlic can lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. In people with high cholesterol, garlic supplementation has been found to reduce total and / or LDL cholesterol by about 10-15%.

Looking at both LDL (the “bad”) and HDL (the “good”) cholesterol, garlic has been shown to lower LDL while having no demonstrable effect on HDL.

Garlic has not been found to lower triglyceride levels – another risk factor for cardiovascular disease

 

6. Garlic can extend your life

It is almost impossible to demonstrate effects on longevity in humans. But given its beneficial effects on important risk factors such as blood pressure, it makes sense that garlic could help extend your life.

The fact that it can fight inflammatory diseases is also an important factor, as these are common causes of death, especially in the elderly or people with poor immune systems.

 

7. Garlic can extend your life

It is almost impossible to demonstrate effects on longevity in humans. But given its beneficial effects on important risk factors such as blood pressure, it makes sense that garlic could help extend your life.

The fact that it can fight inflammatory diseases is also an important factor, as these are common causes of death, especially in the elderly or people with poor immune systems.

 

8. By adding garlic you can improve sports performance

Garlic was one of the earliest “performance enhancing” substances. It was used in ancient cultures to reduce fatigue and increase workers’ ability to work. Most notably, it was administered to Olympic athletes in Ancient Greece (19).

Studies in rodents have shown that garlic aids exercise capacity, but very little research has been done on humans. In subjects with cardiovascular disease who took garlic oil for 6 weeks, the peak heart rate dropped by 12% and exercise capacity improved (20).

However, a study on nine cyclists found no performance improvement (21).

Other research suggests that exercise-induced fatigue can be reduced with garlic.

 

9. Eating garlic can 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 poison.

A 4-week study of workers at a car battery factory (overexposure to lead) found that garlic reduced blood lead levels by 19%. It also reduced many clinical symptoms of toxicity, including headaches and blood pressure.

Three doses of garlic per day worked even better than the drug D-penicillamine in reducing symptoms.

 

10. Garlic may improve bone health

No measurements have been made of the effects of garlic on bone loss in human subjects. However, rodent research has shown that garlic can minimize bone loss in females because it increases estrogen levels.

A study in menopausal women found that a daily dose of a dry garlic extract (equivalent to 2 grams of raw garlic) significantly lowered a “marker” of estrogen deficiency.

This suggests that the garlic may have beneficial effects on bone health in women. Foods such as garlic and onions have also been shown to have beneficial effects on osteoarthritis (weight inflammation to the bone).

 

11. Garlic is easy to add to your diet and tastes really delicious

This is not a health benefit, but it is important, namely the fact that it is really easy (and delicious) to add garlic to your current diet. It is a tasty addition to most dishes, especially soups and sauces. The strong flavor of garlic can also add some “color” to otherwise boring recipes.

Garlic comes in a variety of forms, from cloves and smooth pastes to powders and supplements such as garlic extract and oil. The minimum effective dose for a therapeutic effect is one clove with meals, two or three times a day. But don’t forget that there are some downsides to garlic, such as bad breath. There are also people who are allergic to it.

If you have a blood clotting disorder or are taking blood thinning medications, talk to your doctor before increasing your garlic intake.

The active ingredient allicin only forms when garlic is crushed or chopped when it is raw. If you cook it before crushing it, it won’t have the same health effects. So the best way to eat it is raw, or crush and slice it and let it sit for a while before adding it to your recipe.

I prefer to use garlic by squeezing a few cloves with the garlic press, to which I add extra virgin olive oil and a little salt. This is a healthy and super tasty dressing.