1. Garlic Contains Compounds With
Potent Medicinal Properties

Garlic is a plant in the Allium (onion) family.
It is closely related to onions, shallots and leeks.
Each segment of a garlic bulb is called a clove.
There are about 10–20 cloves in a single bulb, give
or take.

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 main use
of garlic was for its health and medicinal properties

Its use was well documented by many major
civilizations, including the Egyptians, Babylonians,
Greeks, Romans and Chinese ( 2).

Scientists now know that most of its health benefits
are caused by sulfur compounds formed when a
garlic clove is chopped, crushed or chewed.
Perhaps the most famous of those is known as
allicin. However, allicin is an unstable compound
that is only briefly present in fresh garlic after it’s
been cut or crushed ( 3).

Other compounds that may play a role in garlic’s
health benefits include diallyl disulfide and s-allyl
cysteine ( 4 ).

The sulfur compounds from garlic enter the body
from the digestive tract and travel all over the body,
where it exerts its potent biological effects.

2. Garlic Is Highly Nutritious But
Has Very Few Calories

Calorie for calorie, garlic is incredibly nutritious.
One clove (3 grams) of raw garlic contains ( 5 ):
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: 0.6 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 carbs.

Garlic also contains trace amounts of various other
nutrients. In fact, it contains a little bit of almost
everything you need.

3. Garlic Can Combat Sickness,
Including the Common Cold

Garlic supplements are known to boost the function
of the immune system.
One large, 12-week study found that a daily garlic
supplement reduced the number of colds by 63%
compared to a placebo ( 6).

The average length 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 cold or flu by 61% ( 7).

However, one review concluded that the evidence is
insufficient and more research is needed ( 8).

4. The Active Compounds in Garlic
Can Reduce Blood Pressure

Cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and
strokes are the world's biggest killers.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the
most important drivers of these diseases.

Human studies have found garlic supplements to
have a significant impact on reducing blood
pressure in people with high blood pressure ( 9 , 10,
In one study, 600–1,500 mg of aged garlic extract
was just as effective as the drug Atenolol at
reducing blood pressure over a 24-week period
( 12).
Supplement doses must be fairly high to have the
desired effects. The amount needed is equivalent to
about four cloves of garlic per day.

5. Garlic Improves Cholesterol
Levels, Which May Lower the Risk
of Heart Disease

Garlic can lower total and LDL cholesterol.
For those with high cholesterol, garlic supplements
appear to reduce total and/or LDL cholesterol by
about 10–15% ( 13 , 14, 15).

Looking at LDL (the "bad") and HDL (the "good")
cholesterol specifically, garlic appears to lower LDL
but has no reliable effect on HDL ( 9, 10 , 16, 17,

High triglyceride levels are another known risk
factor for heart disease, but garlic seems to have
no significant effects on triglyceride levels ( 13, 15)

6. Garlic Contains Antioxidants
That May Help Prevent Alzheimer's
Disease and Dementia
Oxidative damage from free radicals contributes to
the aging process.

Garlic contains antioxidants that support the body's
protective mechanisms against oxidative damage
( 19).

High doses of garlic supplements have been shown
to increase antioxidant enzymes in humans, as well
as significantly reduce oxidative stress in those with
high blood pressure ( 7, 9, 20).

The combined effects on reducing cholesterol and
blood pressure, as well as the antioxidant
properties, may reduce the risk of common brain
diseases like Alzheimer's disease and dementia
( 21, 22 ).

7. Garlic May Help You Live Longer

The potential effects of garlic on longevity are
basically impossible to prove in humans.

But given the beneficial effects on important risk
factors like blood pressure, it makes sense that
garlic could help you live longer .

The fact that it can fight infectious disease is also
an important factor, because these are common
causes of death, especially in the elderly or people
with dysfunctional immune systems.

8. Athletic Performance Might Be
Improved With Garlic Supplements

Garlic was one of the earliest "performance
enhancing" substances.

It was traditionally used in ancient cultures to
reduce fatigue and enhance the work capacity of

Most notably, it was given to Olympic athletes in
ancient Greece ( 1).
Rodent studies have shown that garlic helps with
exercise performance, but very few human studies
have been done.

People with heart disease who took garlic oil for 6
weeks had a 12% reduction in peak heart rate and
better exercise capacity ( 23).
However, a study on nine competitive cyclists found
no performance benefits ( 24 ).
Other studies suggest that exercise-induced fatigue
may be reduced with garlic ( 2).

9. Eating Garlic May 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 toxicity.

A four-week study in employees of a car battery
plant (excessive exposure to lead) found that garlic
reduced lead levels in the blood by 19%. It also
reduced many clinical signs of toxicity, including
headaches and blood pressure ( 25).

Three doses of garlic each day even outperformed
the drug D-penicillamine in reducing symptoms.

10. Garlic May Improve Bone

No human studies have measured the effects of
garlic on bone loss.

However, rodent studies have shown that it can
minimize bone loss by increasing estrogen in
females ( 26, 27 , 28, 29).

One study in menopausal women found that a daily
dose of dry garlic extract (equal to 2 grams of raw
garlic) significantly decreased a marker of estrogen
deficiency ( 30 ).

This suggests that this supplement may have
beneficial effects on bone health in women.
Foods like garlic and onions may also have
beneficial effects on osteoarthritis ( 31).

11. Garlic Is Easy to Include in Your
Diet and Tastes Absolutely

The last one is not a health benefit, but is still
Garlic is very easy (and delicious) to include in
your current diet.

It complements most savory dishes, particularly
soups and sauces. The strong taste of garlic can
also add a punch to otherwise bland recipes.
Garlic comes in several forms, from whole cloves
and smooth pastes to powders and supplements
like garlic extract and garlic oil.

However, keep in mind that there are some
downsides to garlic, such as bad breath. There are
also some people who are allergic to it.

If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood-
thinning medications, talk to your doctor before
increasing your garlic intake.
A common way to use garlic is to press a few
cloves of fresh garlic with a garlic press, then mix it
with extra virgin olive oil and a bit of salt.
This a healthy and super satisfying dressing.

Garlic is delicious and easy to add to your
diet. You can use it in savory dishes,
soups, sauces, dressings and more.

The Bottom Line.

For thousands of years, garlic was believed to have
medicinal properties.