What are the Top 5 Health Benefits of Using Garlic?

On This Page

    Whether we're talking about garlic extracts, raw garlic, or cooked garlic, garlic has many positive effects on those who consume it regularly.

    The Top 5 Benefits of Using Garlic

    People have been using garlic for centuries to flavor their food. Ancient cultures also recognized the health benefits of this pungent root. From boosting immunity to increasing heart health, garlic boasts benefits that can make a consumer's life better and longer.

    Garlic and Immunity

    Aged garlic extracts, also known as AGE, contain a wealth of antioxidants. That’s why people have long used AGE as a home remedy that promotes immune function.

    Studies have shown that AGE consumption can promote healthy immune function by promoting T cells which contribute to the body’s innate immune system.

    In one study, healthy individuals aged 21 to 50 consumed either placebo supplements or 2.56 grams of AGE. The individuals who took AGE experienced a reduction in respiratory and sinus symptoms, missed less work and school, and functioned more optimally than those who took the placebo. Such results suggest that AGE may enhance individuals' immune systems and reduce the severity of symptoms they experience.

    Thus, adding a regiment of AGE to your supplements that boost immunity will only help you stay healthier.

    Garlic and Athletic Performance

    Garlic consumption has also positively affected athletic performances in studies and tests. Even a single dose can make a difference.

    One study took ten trained male athletes and gave them either a 900-mg dose of dried garlic powder or a placebo at random. Five hours after taking their dose, the subjects took on a treadmill running test where they ran incrementally until they were exhausted.

    This test continued for a week. After that week, researchers swapped the treatment of the subjects so that those who took garlic now took a placebo and vice versa. Researchers then conducted the same treadmill test.

    Those who consumed garlic had a significant increase in endurance performance time and maximum oxygen consumption of VO2max five hours after consuming the garlic. This further supports the idea that even a single dose of garlic can positively affect one's athletic performance.

    Garlic and Heart Health

    Garlic has proven to have a positive impact on heart health as well. One study that examined the effects of garlic and fish-oil supplementation individually and then in combination revealed that the variety of the two products supported cholesterol levels already within normal limits in the subjects. Fish oil alone did not work as effectively as the combination of garlic and fish oil.

    Another study had researchers studying the effects of certain concentrations of allicin, the defense molecule found in garlic. In large quantities allicin is naturally an oxidant. This study revealed that in lower doses, allicin has the potential to promote cardiovascular health by maintaining blood pressure and cholesterol levels already within normal limits.

    Garlic can also play a part in promoting aortic health. The aorta is the largest artery of the body, the one responsible for carrying blood from the heart to the rest of your circulatory system. As you age, your aorta can become stiff from constantly contracting.

    One study revealed that using garlic powder could promote healthy blood flow. Garlic seems to have nutrients that can protect the elastic properties of the aorta necessary for it to function properly.

    Garlic and Brain Health

    Garlic also appears to have a positive effect on brain health. One study indicated that fresh and cooked garlic extracts increased memory in both female and male rats. Scientists theorize that higher blood glucose levels can contribute to occasional memory issues due to the production of free radicals which can increase oxidative stress. Scientists attribute the improved short term memory to the antioxidants in garlic that combat oxidative stress. This study did not indicate that garlic would have an impact on long-term memory.

    Garlic and Cognitive Health

    Other studies have indicated a positive effect on those with mild memory issues associated with aging. High doses of garlic supplements appear to increase antioxidant enzymes and maintain cholesterol and blood pressure levels already within normal range. This combination of effects appears to promote cognitive and cardiovascular health.

    ##3 How Much Garlic Should You Eat Per Day? While garlic certainly has favorable properties, you still may want to limit your consumption. Just two cloves of raw garlic a day will yield positive effects while minimizing the negative effects that so many think of when considering garlic supplements.

    Too much garlic on an empty stomach can cause flatulence, gastrointestinal distress, and changes in your intestinal flora. Due to garlic’s ability to thin the blood, you should stop taking high doses of garlic one week to ten days before surgery.

    Should Anyone Avoid Eating Garlic?

    Garlic does have some potential adverse side effects. Here are the most common negative side effects that can happen with garlic consumption:

    • Gastrointestinal distress such as abdominal pain, belching, or nausea
    • Uncontrolled bleeding in postoperative situations
    • Irritation when exposed to the skin topically

    The safety of garlic appears to depend primarily on how you take it. Aged garlic extract or AGE seems to have the safest profile and the least side effects compared to other forms of garlic. If you take medication regularly, ask your doctor about the potential interactions that could occur with a regular garlic supplement.

    What Is the Healthiest Way to Eat Garlic?

    While garlic extract has the fewest potential side effects, garlic is most effective when eaten raw. Garlic supplements ultimately, though, can do the job well also.

    When you eat garlic raw, you're taking full advantage of the Allicin, which you can lose when you cook the garlic.

    Garlic supplements are a close second to raw garlic. They still have the powerful effects of garlic without the pungent taste.

    Key Takeaways For Consuming Garlic

    In short, garlic consumption can improve your overall health. You can see improvement in your heart health, immunity, athletic performance, and cognitive function with a regular garlic supplement. Try a regimen of garlic for a month to give it a full chance at working. If eating garlic isn’t your cup of tea, you can always try taking garlic as a supplement. Care/of has garlic softgels that support immunity through its antioxidant properties.

    Are you tired and always sick? Do you want to take better care of yourself? If so, check out our full line of supplements that can boost your overall health and vitality.

    You're unique. Your supplements should be too.

    Take the quiz
    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Our Editorial Staff
    Freelance Contributor
    The Care/of Editorial Team is made up of writers, experts, and health enthusiasts, all dedicated to giving you the information you need today. Our team is here to answer your biggest wellness questions, read the studies for you, and introduce you to your new favorite product, staying up to date on the latest research, trends, and science. Each article is written by one of our experts, reviewed both for editorial standards by an editor and medical standards by one of our naturopathic doctors, and updated regularly as new information becomes available.