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Allium sativum, or garlic as it’s more commonly known, is a bulbous plant, considered a vegetable, that’s a close relative to onions, shallots, leeks, and chives. Commonly used to season cooked dishes or add flavor to dressings, reductions, and beyond, garlic has a pungent yet palatable taste. Garlic can be eaten raw, sauteed, roasted, and in supplements. While garlic most importantly keeps the vampires away, it has a few significant health benefits to consider. All jokes aside, garlic is full of nutrients that play an integral role in some important health matters. Take a look.
Important Note: As always, the information contained herein represents the most current scientific research as of the date of this publication. Make sure to look for more current studies if applicable.
Nutritious With Few Calories
Although garlic is most commonly used as a flavoring and is not typically eaten by itself, it’s highly nutritious and worth incorporating into your diet where you can. For starters, garlic has less than one calorie per clove so it won’t usually change the calorie count of your meal. Beyond the low-calorie count, garlic is primarily made up of vitamins and nutrients such as manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium, and fiber. While garlic does contain trace amounts of other nutrients, they’re not worth noting.
General Consensus: 5/5 and here is why. Although garlic is rich in many vitamins, the nutrients noted are indisputable and worth adding to your diet.
Garlic has long been touted as an immunity booster both in ancient and present times as well as in homeopathic supplements. But is there any science to these claims? There actually is. For starters, garlic supplements have been linked to boosting the function of the human immune system. One study showed that the occurrence of the common cold was reduced by 63% in individuals who consumed daily garlic supplements. A similar study noted that individuals who consumed aged garlic extract were sick with the flu or a cold for fewer days than those who didn’t. The conclusions drawn by these two studies indicate that regular garlic intake may reduce the severity of illness.
General Consensus: 3/5 and here is why. Although the connection between garlic intake and immunity enhancement is promising, there are only a few studies supporting this link. More research is indicated.
Detoxifies Heavy Metals
It is true that garlic is high in sulfur compounds. When taken in high doses, typically through supplements or aged extracts, garlic has resulted in heavy metal detoxification. One study examined garlic supplementation in workers at a car battery plant; workers who took daily recommended garlic supplements had a nearly 20% reduction of lead in the bloodstream as well as a reduction in associated symptoms such as headaches and changes in blood pressure. This same study noted that a triple dose of garlic supplements per day reduced lead toxicity.
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. Surprisingly, hundreds of scientific studies support the claim that high doses of garlic can ward off metal toxicity and resultant symptoms.
Lowers Risk Of Heart Disease
A healthy intake of garlic can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease: one, by lowering cholesterol and two, by reducing blood pressure. Here’s how. To begin, high cholesterol has long been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. By maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, you could feasibly reduce that risk. There are two types of cholesterol that doctors monitor: LDL which is the bad cholesterol and HDL which is the good cholesterol. Notably, garlic intake is linked to a reduction in the LDL, the bad cholesterol. As a result, garlic can help to maintain a healthy LDL or reduce a high LDL. One study indicated a 15% reduction in LDL with regular garlic consumption.
Furthermore, garlic is also linked to reducing blood pressure. A handful of interesting studies have shown a connection between regular garlic intake and reducing one’s blood pressure. In some cases, it’s even proven to be as effective as prescribed blood pressure medications. Best of all, garlic supplements are all natural and don’t come with some of the nasty side effects that prescription drugs do. It may be worth discussing with your physician.
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. Surprisingly, there are hundreds of scientific studies connecting regular garlic intake to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Certainly, blood pressure and high cholesterol aren’t the only risk factors so more than garlic is needed to ward off one’s risk entirely.
Helps Prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia
The connection between garlic and the prevention of age-related diseases such Alzheimer’s and Dementia is loose at best. Scientists note that antioxidants contained in garlic protect against oxidative damage; oxidative stress has been linked to aging, high blood pressure, and diseases of the brain. It’s posited, therefore, that by consuming healthy amounts of garlic, the antioxidants therein may help to protect one from the oxidative stress that causes Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. While the theories surrounding garlic intake and the prevention of age-related diseases are logical, there’s no concrete evidence that garlic itself can prevent such illnesses.
Improves Athletic Performance
Historically, garlic was dosed to Olympic athletes in ancient Greece where it was used to reduce fatigue and enhance endurance. While the old tales of supercharged, garlic-infused athletes is a romantic idea, there’s sadly not much merit to the magic of garlic in athletic performances. One study that researched the physical performances of mice taking garlic supplements revealed improved performances, however, there are few studies on humans in this regard. Whereas one human study reported an improvement in physical endurance others revealed results counter to that finding.
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. Although there seems to be a possible connection between garlic and athletic performance, currently the research is conflicting.
Contains Antibiotic Properties
Throughout antiquity, garlic has been used for its medicinal properties. Scientists today realize that garlic’s sulfur compounds, which are formed when garlic is smashed, diced, or otherwise, travel through the digestive tract and then the bloodstream to combat biological illnesses. The three major compounds created by cutting garlic include allicin, diallyl disulfide, and s-allyl cysteine. These three compounds are said to have antioxidant, anti-cancer, and antimicrobial properties making them valuable natural remedies. Some of the ailments that have been treated with garlic remedies include high blood pressure, diabetes, hay fever, and a variety of others.
General Consensus: 2/5 and here is why. Because many of the remedies using garlic are homeopathic, there isn’t a lot of scientific research on the topic. Nevertheless, many cultures swear by treating most anything with garlic.
Unlikely Benefits: Further Research Needed
May Improve Bone Health
General Consensus: 4/5 and here is why. There is only one study testing the effect of garlic on bone health and it’s performed on rodents. There are no studies done on humans therefore, although it’s possible, much more research is needed.
Has Cancer-Fighting Properties
General Consensus: 1.5/5 and here is why. Garlic contains a compound known as allyl sulfide which is an anti-inflammatory known to reduce free radicals and protect against cancer, however, there is not enough in a daily serving of garlic to do so.