Is garlic good for you? And what is garlic good for on your health journey? The health benefits of garlic include protection against heart disease and prostate cancer. And studies show garlic benefits immunity and may help reduce high blood pressure.
Certain foods have an almost miraculous ability to support good health.
Garlic is one such food. Packed with nutrients such as allicin, vitamin C and selenium, garlic benefits your health in a number of ways.
Studies show garlic protects against colds. It can help lower high blood pressure and fosters healthy cholesterol levels. And it even has the ability to help the body detoxify from heavy metals.
There are benefits of eating raw garlic, cooked garlic and fermented garlic. Another option is to consume a garlic supplement.
So, what’s the story on this nutrient-rich food, and what is garlic good for in your efforts to optimize your health?
In this article, we will:
- Explain what garlic is
- Share insight regarding garlic nutrition
- Discuss how garlic is commonly used
- List the health benefits of garlic, including garlic benefits for men and garlic benefits for women
- Answer common garlic FAQs
What is garlic?
To understand how garlic benefits wellness, it’s important to get some background on the plant itself. So, what is garlic, and how is it classified relative to other edible plants?
Garlic is a bulbous flowering plant, and it’s classed as a vegetable. Its botanical name is Allium sativum. Garlic is part of the onion family; this family includes leeks, chives and shallots.
The garlic plant has three main parts: the bulb, the stem and the leaves. All of these parts are edible. However, it’s the garlic bulb that’s most frequently consumed. The garlic bulb is made up of roughly 10-20 smaller parts, known as cloves. The cloves are covered in a papery husk, and this is typically removed before they are eaten.
Health benefits of garlic throughout history
Hippocrates (460-370 BC) is an ancient Greek physician who is widely viewed as being the founder of modern medicine. He is credited with this famous saying: “Let your food be your medicine.” This revered healer used garlic to treat a number of different health challenges.
However, Hippocrates wasn’t the only person to recognize the power and value of this humble plant. Over the years, the health benefits of garlic have been tapped by several different cultures and civilizations:
- In ancient Egypt, garlic was used to help laborers improve their productivity.
- In ancient Greece, garlic was fed to athletes before they competed to enhance their performance.
- Garlic was prescribed to support healthy digestion and respiration in ancient China, and it was also used to treat depression.
- In ancient India, garlic was used to treat heart disease and arthritis.
What is garlic good for when it comes to nutrition?
The health benefits of garlic are tied to the nutrients it holds. So, what’s the deal when it comes to garlic nutrition?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a clove of raw garlic contains the following nutrients:
- Water – 1.8 g
- Calories – 4.5 g
- Protein – 0.2 g
- Fat – 0.015 g
- Ash – 0.045 g
- Carbohydrates – 0.99 g
- Fiber – 0.063 g
- Sugars – 0.03 g
- Calcium – 5.43 mg
- Iron – 0.051 mg
- Magnesium – 0.75 mg
- Phosphorus – 4.59 mg
- Potassium – 12 mg
- Sodium – 0.51 mg
- Zinc – 0.035 mg
- Copper – 0.009 mg
- Manganese – 0.05 mg
- Selenium – 0.426 µg
- Vitamin C – 0.936 mg
- Thiamin – 0.006 mg
- Riboflavin – 0.003 mg
- Niacin – 0.021 mg
- Pantothenic acid – 0.018 mg
- Vitamin B6 – 0.037 mg
- Folate, total – 0.09 µg
- Choline – 0.696 mg
- Beta carotene – 0.15 µg
- Vitamin A – 0.27 IU
- Lutein + zeaxanthin – 0.48 µg
- Vitamin E – 0.002 mg
- Vitamin K – 0.051 µg
- Saturated fatty acids – 0.003 g
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids – 0.007 g
Amino acids are viewed as being the building blocks of protein. What is garlic able to offer when it comes to amino acids?
A clove of raw garlic benefits protein production by providing these amino acids:
- Tryptophan – 0.002 g
- Threonine – 0.005 g
- Isoleucine – 0.007 g
- Leucine – 0.009 g
- Lysine – 0.008 g
- Methionine – 0.002 g
- Cystine – 0.002 g
- Phenylalanine – 0.005 g
- Tyrosine – 0.002 g
- Valine – 0.009 g
- Arginine – 0.019 g
- Histidine – 0.003 g
- Alanine – 0.004 g
- Aspartic acid – 0.015 g
- Glutamic acid – 0.024 g
- Glycine – 0.006 g
- Proline – 0.003 g
- Serine – 0.006 g
Additionally, garlic contains roughly 33 sulfur compounds, These compounds are credited with giving garlic many of its most potent healing properties.
Here are a few of the sulfur compounds found in garlic:
- Allyl propyl disulfide
- Diallyl trisulfide
How is garlic used?
Perhaps the one thing that garlic is most widely known for is its flavor. Because of its strong flavor, garlic benefits the overall taste of many dishes.
Traditional vegetables are often consumed in large amounts at a time. Due to its potent flavor, garlic isn’t used in this way. It’s treated more like a spice or herb. It’s added to dishes in small amounts to prevent its taste from becoming too overpowering.
We know that garlic benefits health. But is garlic good for you even when consumed in miniscule amounts? The answer is yes. Studies show that just one to two garlic cloves pack a potent health punch.
One to two cloves of garlic equals about four grams. Some studies conclude that garlic dosage of two to five grams each day is ideal for wellness support. So it’s clear that to reap the health benefits of garlic, you don’t need to consume this food in huge portions.
What’s best way to consume garlic? You have many options when it comes to the products available and the methods of preparation. Here are a few:
- Cooked garlic
- Raw garlic
- Crushed garlic
- Minced garlic
- Garlic powder
- Fermented garlic
- Garlic supplements
So, what can modern science tell us about the health benefits of garlic?
Let’s explore the many ways in which garlic benefits wellness:
Garlic benefit #1: Protects against colds
One of the key garlic benefits concerns the immune system. Ultimately, garlic intake can help prevent you from getting colds.
In a large 12-week study, a garlic supplement taken every day reduced the number of colds by 63 percent when compared with a placebo. Additionally, those who took the garlic supplement showed a 70 percent reduction in the duration of their cold symptoms compared to those who took the placebo.
In another study conducted in 2012, supplementation with aged garlic extract resulted in a 61 percent reduction in the number of days sick with colds or flu.
The research suggests there are benefits of eating garlic if you want to reduce the likelihood of coming down with a cold or the flu.
Garlic benefit #2: May lower high blood pressure to healthy levels
Heart attacks and strokes are leading causes of death in this country and around the world. High blood pressure – which is also known as hypertension — is a causative factor in these diseases. High blood pressure can place great strain on your blood vessels and compromise heart health.
So, what is garlic good for when it comes to blood pressure? Research shows that garlic benefits your ability to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
In a 2013 study, 600-1500 mg of aged garlic extract was just as effective as the drug Atenolol in lowering high blood pressure. This study covered a 24-week period.
And in a 2005 study, a garlic supplement was shown to reduce blood pressure and counteract oxidative stress. It also increased vitamin levels.
Garlic benefit #3: May lower LDL cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol: LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein). LDL cholesterol can harm your health. On the other end of the spectrum, HDL cholesterol has health benefits and has been linked with improved detoxification.
High LDL cholesterol has been associated with cardiovascular disease. Research shows that garlic supplementation can help lower LDL cholesterol to healthy levels.
A 2004 study looked at a total of 23 participants with high cholesterol levels. Those who took a garlic supplement experienced a notable reduction in harmful LDL cholesterol.
Studies show that while garlic reduces harmful LDL cholesterol, it has no effect on beneficial HDL cholesterol.
Garlic benefit #4: May protect against prostate cancer
There are certain garlic benefits for men that make this vegetable a food worth considering. One of these involves protection against prostate cancer.
The prostate is a gland that only men possess. Research shows that allium vegetables such as garlic can help reduce a man’s risk of developing cancer in the prostate.
A meta-analysis published in 2013 looked at evidence from 132,192 participants. The researchers concluded that allium vegetables — especially garlic — are linked to decreased risk of prostate cancer.
Garlic benefit #5: May improve bone health
There are also notable garlic benefits for women. One of these involves bone health. Menopausal women often suffer bone loss due to decreasing estrogen levels.
In rodent studies involving rats with osteoporosis, garlic improved estrogen levels and boosted skeletal health.
And in a 2012 study involving menopausal women, a garlic supplement created a notable decrease in a marker of estrogen deficiency. Given the link between estrogen levels and bone health in women, the study suggests that garlic may be able to help menopausal women maintain healthy bones.
Garlic benefit #6: May help detoxify heavy metals from the body
Heavy metal toxicity can cause permanent damage to vital organs. Research shows that garlic benefits your health by assisting with the removal of harmful heavy metals from the body.
A 2011 study looked at employees who had been exposed to lead at a car battery plant. The research indicated that garlic reduced the amount of lead in the blood by 19 percent. And garlic eased some of the symptoms associated with heavy metal toxicity, such as headaches and high blood pressure.
Garlic benefit #7: May improve athletic performance
In ancient times, garlic was used to give athletes an extra boost during competitions. Today, research indicates that garlic benefits athletic performance.
Studies show that garlic may be able to reduce fatigue and increase endurance during exercise. And a 2005 study indicated that garlic improved cardiac performance and exercise tolerance in those with heart disease.
Is garlic keto?
Yes, garlic is a keto-friendly food. It’s naturally low in carbs, so it won’t negatively affect your keto macros.
Can dogs eat garlic?
So, what is garlic all about when it comes to our canine friends? Is garlic bad for dogs?
According to the American Kennel Club, even though garlic benefits humans, it’s very toxic to dogs. This is also true of other members of the allium family, such as onions. This is due to the presence of a compound called thiosulfate. This compound can cause oxidative damage to a dog’s red blood cells. The symptoms of this toxicity may include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, abdominal pain, dark-colored urine and rapid breathing.
How long does garlic last?
If you keep a whole head of garlic unpeeled, it can last for up to six months when stored at room temperature.
And how long do garlic cloves last once they’ve been separated from the head? A single clove that hasn’t been peeled can last about three weeks at room temperature.
Once garlic has been peeled, it will typically last for about a week in the refrigerator.
What is fermented garlic?
Fermented garlic is also called black garlic. It’s made from fresh garlic that’s been allowed to ferment for a few weeks.
The fermentation process darkens the color of the garlic and mutes its sharp flavor. Fermented garlic has a somewhat sweet taste.
Compared to fresh garlic cloves, fermented garlic benefits health by providing enhanced bioactivity. As such, it delivers excellent nutrition.
Is garlic a blood thinner?
Yes, garlic benefits health by serving as a natural blood thinner. The list of natural blood thinners also includes turmeric, ginger and cayenne peppers. Because of their ability to thin the blood, these foods can help prevent harmful blood clotting.
What is garlic good for in your journey toward improved health? Whether you choose raw garlic cloves or a garlic supplement, including this food in your diet can reap big rewards. You can find everything from fresh garlic to garlic tablets online or at your local grocery story.
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