Current research shows that garlic has real health benefits, including protection against colds and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
“Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.”
These are the famous words of Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician known as the father of Western medicine.
He prescribed garlic to treat various ailments, and modern science has confirmed many of these health benefits.
Here are 11 benefits of garlic that have been proven in human studies.
- Garlic contains compounds with powerful medicinal properties
Garlic is a plant of 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 10-20 cloves per bulb, give or take.
Garlic is grown in many parts of the world and is a popular ingredient in cooking due to its strong aroma and delicious taste.
However, the main uses of garlic throughout ancient history were for its health and medicinal properties ( 1Trusted Source ).
Its use is well documented by many major civilizations, including the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese (1 Trusted Source).
Scientists now know that most of the health benefits of garlic are due to the sulfur compounds produced when garlic cloves are chopped, crushed, or chewed.
Perhaps the most famous compound is allicin. However, allicin is a volatile compound that can only be found in fresh garlic for a short time after it is cut and crushed ( 2Trusted Source ).
Other health-promoting compounds in garlic include diallyl disulfide and c-allyl cysteine ( 3Trusted Source ).
The sulfur compounds in garlic enter your body through the digestive tract. They then travel throughout your body and have a powerful biological effect.
- Garlic is very nutritious but very low in calories
Low in calories, garlic is incredibly nutritious.
One clove (3 grams) of raw garlic contains (4 trusted sources):
Manganese: 2% Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin B6: 2% of DV
Vitamin C: 1% of the DV
Selenium: 1% of the DV
Fiber: 0.06 grams
It contains 4.5 calories, 0.2 grams of protein and 1 gram of carbohydrates.
Garlic contains small amounts of other nutrients.
- Garlic helps protect against diseases such as colds
Garlic supplements improve immune system function.
A large 12-week study found that daily garlic supplementation reduced the number of colds by 63% compared to a placebo ( 5Trusted Source ).
The average 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 high doses of aged garlic extract (2.56 grams per day) reduced the number of days with colds and flu by 61 percent.