Garlic: Top 17 Health Benefits, Nutrition Facts, How to Use, and Side Effects

Garlic products are used in various ways by people in their daily routines as a source of medication. It has been linked to lowering or even preventing four of the world’s leading causes of death, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, and infections.

The National Cancer Institute does not advocate any specific dietary supplement for cancer prevention. Still, it does designate the spice as one of the numerous veggies with anti-cancer qualities, including broccoli and cauliflower. It’s highly affordable, simple to grow, and delicious.

Garlic has many healing properties, including antioxidant, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties and cancer-fighting and immune-boosting activity. Garlic is an Allium family member, including onions, shallots, and leeks.


Since ancient times, garlic (Allium sativum L.) has been extensively investigated and utilized to treat infectious diseases. For example, the ancient Egyptians used it to treat diarrhea. They recorded their observations on its therapeutic effects on the walls of old temples, and papyrus scrolls dating back to 1500 BCE. It is known as Russian penicillin as a topical and systemic antibacterial antibiotic.

The garlic bulb has several layers of inedible papery skin that, when peeled away, reveals up to 20 edible bulblets called cloves inside. It is an onion-family plant grown for its distinct flavor and health benefits. However, the sulfur compounds formed when a clove is chopped, crushed, or chewed are responsible for most of its health benefits. Garlic’s sulfur compounds enter the body through the digestive tract and travel throughout the body, exerting powerful biological effects.

Garlic is one of the simpler crops to cultivate. This spice grows best in dry, loose, well-drained soil in full sun. However, it is possible to make supplements from fresh, dried and matured garlic and oil. The Black one is caramelized garlic initially used as a food ingredient in Asian cooking. 

An Overview of Nutritional Data

Garlic nutrition contains many essential nutrients, including flavonoids, oligosaccharides, amino acids, allicin, and a high sulfur level. One raw clove contains 4.5 calories, 0.2g protein, 1g carbohydrates, and 0g fat. In addition, it has a lot of vitamin C, zinc, and calcium. Garlic is low in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium, but because people consume it in small amounts, it does not contribute much to your overall nutritional intake.

It has at least 33 sulfur compounds, several enzymes, and minerals such as germanium, calcium, copper, potassium, selenium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins A, B1, and C, fiber, and water. Allicin is among the most biologically active compounds found in it. Garlic contains more sulfur compounds than any other Allium species.

Health Benefits

Garlic benefits are numerous, as you will see. In addition, we can use it as an effective form of plant-based medicine in various ways, including the ones listed below.

 1.  Immune System Booster

Garlic extract increases glutathione production in white blood cells (neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, and macrophages), protecting immune cells from free radical damage. In addition, it contains many sulfur-containing amino acids and other compounds that appear to stimulate immune system activity.

People used garlic to treat a lack of medicines during World War II. Its antimicrobial properties are thought to be influenced by allicin. Garlic extract increases glutathione production in white blood cells (neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, and macrophages). In addition, it contains many sulfur-containing amino acids and other compounds that appear to stimulate immune system activity.

Garlic is an impressive conductor of the body’s immune system, boosting immune function by activating macrophages or killer cells. The administering of 600 mg of the powder daily for three months to elderly subjects significantly improved immune function.

2. Cardiovascular Disease

Garlic is widely used to prevent and treat cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, including atherosclerosis, hyperlipidemia, thrombosis, hypertension, and diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the top cause of mortality in the United States, followed by cancer and pneumonia.

It has been shown to aid in reversing early heart disease by removing plaque buildup in the arteries. Researchers discovered that aged garlic extract could slow the progression of atherosclerosis and reverse the early stages of heart disease. In addition, the oil contains diallyl trisulfide, which protects the heart during cardiac surgery and after a heart attack.

It may also aid in reducing the risk of cognitive decline by shielding neurons from neurotoxicity and apoptosis. Garlic oil may help protect against cardiomyopathy, a chronic disease in which the myocardium (heart muscle) thickens, enlarges, and stiffens abnormally.

Changes associated with protection against heart damage were significantly more pronounced in rats fed garlic oil than in animals fed corn oil. Garlic supplements appear to reduce total and LDL cholesterol by about 10–15 percent in people with high cholesterol.

3. Cancer

According to a San Francisco Bay Area study, garlic can reduce the risk of developing breast and pancreatic cancer by up to 54%. Furthermore, when its organosulfur compounds were added to cancer cells in vitro, they induced cell cycle arrest. Oral administration of liquid garlic extract has also been shown to increase cancer cell death in animal models of oral cancer.

In addition, garlic has been shown to activate immune effector cells such as T cells and natural killer cells. Finally, garlic lowers the risk of prostate cancer in patients, particularly those with localized disease.

Men who consumed more total Allium vegetables had a statistically significantly lower risk of prostate cancer. However, the most substantial evidence for raw garlic’s anti-cancer effects is in the stomach and colorectal cancers.

4. Excessive Blood Pressure

Garlic has gained popularity as a blood pressure control supplement. According to one study, taking four capsules of aged garlic extract (960 milligrams) daily for three months reduced blood pressure by an average of ten points.

Garlic contains allicin, which inhibits the activity of angiotensin II and thus helps to lower blood pressure. In addition, the polysulphides found in garlic are converted by red blood cells into a gas known as hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide dilates our blood vessels and aids in blood pressure control.

Regularly consuming fresh garlic can lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. Researchers believe red blood cells convert the sulfur in garlic into hydrogen sulfide gas, which expands our blood vessels and makes blood pressure control easier. The good news is that you can stop taking your blood pressure medication, so talk to your doctor about whether adding more garlic to your diet could be beneficial.

5. Infections and Colds

Microorganisms that cause some of the most frequent and rarest illnesses can be killed by garlic (particular chemical components found in the spice, such as allicin). Its antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties can aid in treating the common cold and other illnesses. Garlic is beneficial against both the influenza B virus and the herpes simplex virus. In addition, garlic supplements are known to enhance immune system function.

According to one large study, a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63 percent compared to a placebo. The average duration of cold and flu-like symptoms was also cut in half, from five days in the placebo group to two days in the garlic group.

6. Hair Loss in Men and Women (Alopecia)

Garlic gel applied administered twice daily to the scalp for three months could affect people taking corticosteroids for alopecia. Garlic’s antioxidants and antibacterial properties can help clear up acne-causing bacteria. One study shows that rubbing raw garlic on pimples can help them disappear. However, be aware that it may cause a burning sensation on your skin.

7. Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are two of the most common types of dementia:

Garlic contains antioxidants, which help the body’s defense mechanisms against oxidative damage, contributing to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In addition, garlic supplements at large doses have been shown to increase antioxidant enzymes in humans while also significantly reducing oxidative stress in those with high blood pressure.

8. Diabetes 

It has been found that garlic can help manage blood sugar levels, possibly prevent or minimize the impact of various, fight infections, and reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Eating this widely known spice has been shown to help diabetics fight infections, increase circulation, and improve overall health. Most studies found garlic can lower blood glucose levels in diabetic mice and rabbits.

In addition, garlic lowers insulin resistance, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. This herb also helps to avoid obesity by reducing fat accumulation and body weight. Garlic oil and diallyl trisulfide improve the body’s ability to respond to insulin actions, thus combating insulin resistance.

9. Athletic Performance May Improve

Garlic was typically used in ancient cultures to lessen fatigue and increase laborers’ work capacity. In addition, garlic has improved physical performance in laboratory animals and people with heart disease. If you have an athlete’s foot, immerse your feet in garlic water or rub raw garlic on your feet to kill the fungus that causes the itch.

10. The Body’s Natural Detoxification

Garlic contains sulfur compounds that may help with metal detoxification. According to one study, it reduced lead levels in the blood by 19%, and it also reduced many clinical symptoms of toxicity, such as headaches and high blood pressure. In addition, it outperformed the drug D-penicillamine in terms of symptom reduction.

11. Boost Your Bones’ Strength

Bone conditions are becoming more common, especially among those residing where smoking is common. There is some indication that it can help with bone health. Increasing estrogen levels in females may benefit health, but further human studies are needed. Consumption of raw garlic daily lowered a marker of estrogen insufficiency in menopausal women in research.

12. Treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis with garlic (MDR-TB)

Due to its low cost and lack of hazardous side effects, it has the potential to be a successful treatment for MDR-TB (Catia et al., 2011). It is already underway to create new anti-tubercular medications that are less expensive and more effective. Plant extracts with therapeutic properties should be prioritized for novel antibacterial medicines for further study.

It was also found that garlic’s aqueous extract habituates the incorporation of 14C glycine into cells, indicating that the principal mechanism of action is through protein synthesis inhibition (Ratnakar and Murthy, 1996).

13. It has the potential to protect against oxidative stress.

Garlic has been shown to lower cardiovascular risk in obese patients by increasing antioxidants and decreasing inflammation. In addition, aged extracts in stressed rats significantly reduced the decreases in spleen weight seen in control animals. 

14. Reduce Cholesterol

Garlic can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering your cholesterol. Over five months, a group of study participants who took supplements saw their cholesterol drop. In vitro, studies have demonstrated that it can suppress low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and increase LDL resistance to oxidation. In addition, most studies found garlic can lower blood glucose levels in diabetic mice and rabbits.

15. Powerful Antioxidant Source

Antioxidants are necessary for the human body because they aid in improving the immune system while combating free radicals. Garlic extract, allicin efficiently scavenges exogenously generated hydroxyl radicals in a dose-dependent manner, but its efficacy was reduced by heating to 100°C for 20 minutes. Other constituents, such as S-allyl cysteine, have also been shown to have significant antioxidant properties. Fresh garlic sulfur compounds are nearly 1000 times more potent antioxidants than crude, aged extract.

16. As an all-natural blood thinner

Garlic consumption lowers the risk of a thromboembolic event, so eat or supplement with more garlic. Its constituents can reduce fibrin formation, reducing the amount of clotting in the blood. The anti-clotting effect of garlic appears to be due to ajoene, a sulfur compound found in garlic; however, ajoene is only viable at room temperature or higher. It is thought that including spice in one’s diet can help increase the breakdown of fibrine in people by 24 to 30 percent (Ernst, 1994).

17. Antifungal

When tested on the fungi Malassezia furfur and other Candida species, it inhibited fungal diseases like the drug ketoconazole (Shams-Ghahfarokhi et al., 2006). The oil can treat ringworm, skin parasites, and warts when applied externally. One study showed Candida colonies were significantly reduced in mice treated with liquid garlic. Infections like Candida may be controlled because it stimulates the body’s defenses.

Uses of Garlic

  • It can be used in various ways in food, including adding it to pasta, bread, and even butter for added flavor and benefit.
  • Garlic is best used raw for its microbial properties, but cooked garlic has a lot of value. When garlic is cooked, its antioxidant value remains the same (or even increases). Crushing or chopping it allows enzymes to convert some of the allicin in the clove into allicin. Allicin degrades quickly into a variety of organosulfur compounds.
  • It is an excellent natural antibiotic for various ear and skin infections.
  • Scientists recommend letting chopped or crushed spice sits for 10 minutes before cooking. Including raw or cooked healthy meals daily can help you lose weight. Garlic should be stored at room temperature and kept dry at all times (to prevent it from sprouting).

Side Effects

As a blood thinner, garlic in any form increases the risk of blood clots. In addition, it can cause severe, burn-like skin irritation if applied directly to the skin, so use caution when applying it to the skin. Before taking it, consult your doctor if you have low blood pressure, ulcers or other gastrointestinal disorders, thyroid problems, or other chronic health concerns. Large amounts of raw garlic can cause stomach upset, gas, and changes in intestinal bacteria. The most common side effect of garlic consumption is bad breath, especially when raw garlic is used.

Other side effects include nausea and vomiting, so caution should be exercised when consuming large amounts. Even though an entire bulb produces little juice, it is potent and can act as a strong emetic in small quantities. A spontaneous spinal or epidural hematoma in an 87-year-old man with associated platelet dysfunction due to excessive garlic ingestion has been reported.


A variety of types of garlic are consumed around the world, from crushed to capsules. Preventing and combating cancer, boosting diabetic health, and even showing promise for severe cognitive illnesses like Alzheimer’s are just some of the proven benefits.

Where to Buy

You can find it at grocery stores, health food stores, and online.

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This information is not intended to provide medical advice or replace a personal physician’s advice or treatment. All readers of this information, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should check with their doctors before initiating any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program. In addition, the statements and goods on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Mountain Rose Herbs


Mountain Rose Herbs are dedicated to carrying a diverse range of certified organic and fair trade products.

Mountain Rose Herbs have various organic botanical products such as herbs, spices, teas, essential oils, and beauty and personal care items. 

You can find all you need for a well-stocked spice cabinet from their A-Z list of dried herbs and spices, specialty seasonings, gourmet salts, peppercorns, seaweeds, and sprouting seeds. 


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