Garlic improves cholesterol levels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease.
“Let food be your medicine and medicine your food”, those are famous words of the Greek physician Hippocrates, often called the father of Western medicine.
In fact, he used to prescribe garlic to treat a variety of medical conditions.Modern science has recently confirmed many of these beneficial health effects. Here are 5 benefits of garlic that are backed by human research.
Garlic contains compounds with powerful medicinal properties
Garlic is a plant in the Allium family. It is closely related to onions, shallots, and leeks. Each segment of a garlic bulb is called a clove. There are about 10 to 20 teeth on a single bulb, more or less.
Garlic grows in many parts of the world and is a popular ingredient in cooking due to its strong smell and delicious taste; however, throughout ancient history, the primary use of garlic was for its medicinal and health properties.
Its use was well documented by many important civilizations, including the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese. Scientists now know that most of its health benefits are caused by sulfur compounds that are formed when a garlic clove is minced, crushed, or chewed.
Perhaps the most famous of them is known as allicin. However, allicin is an unstable compound that is only briefly present in fresh garlic after it has been cut or crushed. Other compounds that may play a role in garlic’s health benefits include diallyl disulfide and S-allyl cysteine.
The sulfur compounds in garlic enter the body from the digestive tract and travel throughout the body, where they exert their powerful biological effects.
Garlic is very nutritious but has very few calories
Calorie for calorie, garlic is incredibly nutritious.
One clove (3 grams) of raw garlic contains (5 Trusted Source):
- Manganese: 2% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin B6: 2% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 1% of the DV
- Selenium: 1% of the DV
- Fiber: 0.06 grams
- Decent amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamin B1
- This comes with 4.5 calories, 0.2 grams of protein, and 1 gram of carbohydrates.
Garlic also contains traces of several other nutrients. In fact, it contains a bit of almost everything you need.
Garlic can fight illness, including the common cold
Garlic supplements are known to boost immune system function.
A large 12-week study found that a daily garlic supplement reduced the number of colds by 63% compared to a placebo.
The mean duration of cold symptoms was also reduced by 70%, from 5 days in the placebo group to just 1.5 days in the garlic group.
Another study found that a high dose of aged garlic extract (2.56 grams per day) reduced the number of days sick with a cold or flu by 61% (7 Trusted source).
However, one review concluded that the evidence is insufficient and more research is needed (8 Trusted source).
Despite the lack of solid evidence, it may be worth trying adding garlic to your diet if you often catch a cold.
Active compounds in garlic can lower blood pressure
Cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes are the leading causes of death in the world.
High blood pressure or hypertension is one of the most important drivers of these diseases.
Human studies have found that garlic supplements have a significant impact on lowering blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
In one study, 600-1,500 mg of aged garlic extract was as effective as the drug Atenolol in lowering blood pressure over a 24-week period.
Supplement dosages must be high enough to have the desired effects. The amount required is equivalent to about four cloves of garlic a day.
Garlic improves cholesterol levels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease
Garlic can lower total and LDL cholesterol
For those with high cholesterol, garlic supplements appear to lower total and / or LDL cholesterol by about 10-15%.
When it comes to LDL (the “bad”) and HDL (the “good”) cholesterol specifically, garlic appears to lower LDL but does not have a reliable effect on HDL.
High triglyceride levels are another known risk factor for heart disease, but garlic appears to have no significant effects on triglyceride levels.