Last update: June 17, 2024

5 minute read

The Health Benefits of Garlic

Learn about the powerful health benefits of garlic and how this ancient remedy can boost immunity, improve heart health, and more.

Stephanie Wright

By Stephanie Wright, RN, BSN

Edited by Dr. Dimitar Marinov, MD, MBA, PhD

Learn more about our editorial standards

Garlic is powerfully aromatic and intensely flavorful, making it a must-have ingredient to spice up many dishes! But did you know garlic is a superfood that's been used throughout history for its health-boosting properties? It's packed with bioactive compounds, as well as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This article explores the health benefits of taking a garlic supplement.

Key takeaways

  • Garlic has antioxidant properties and influences hydrogen sulfide production
  • Garlic's antimicrobial properties may help fight infections and boost the immune system
  • Garlic has been used across cultures in cooking and traditional medicine

    What is garlic?

    Garlic – Allium sativum – is a bulbous vegetable that grows underground and is closely related to onions, chives, and leeks. Also known as the “stinking rose," garlic has an intense aroma due to its content of sulfur-rich compounds.

    It's been cultivated for thousands of years and used in cuisines worldwide for its delicious, complex flavor. Multiple ancient civilizations also used garlic for cultural practices and in traditional medicine.

    It was famous as a potential natural antibiotic and tonic for the management of infections, parasites, respiratory problems, and high blood pressure. Many of these medicinal properties have now also been suggested by scientific evidence, and garlic supplements are available to help you get the benefits – minus the bad breath!

    How does garlic work?

    The powerful health benefits of garlic are due to its rich source of active sulfur-containing compounds. The compounds are released when garlic is crushed and work together to provide strong antioxidant, blood-thinning, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.

    In addition, these compounds have been shown to inhibit the production of the inflammatory chemical prostaglandin E2 and other inflammatory chemicals in vitro. Research has also suggested that eating garlic may help fight oxidative stress by increasing the activity of antioxidant enzymes in the body. But, when you crush fresh garlic, all that good stuff inside can become weaker if it's left out in the light or air for too long.

    Health benefits of garlic

    Garlic has been recognized for its potential health benefits for centuries. It's more than just a flavor enhancer; it's a great source of nutrients and medicinal properties. Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits it may provide.

    1. Supports heart health

    By soothing inflammation in the body and protecting your cells against oxidative damage, garlic extract may support a reduction of the risk of chronic disease and provide powerful heart-protective properties. It may be one of the reasons the Mediterranean diet is excellent for the heart!

    A 2019 study on adults with hypertension found that garlic capsules significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in a dose and duration-dependent manner. This is likely due to garlic's ability to influence hydrogen sulfide production, a gas that enhances nitric oxide levels and promotes blood vessel relaxation and expansion.

    Experts found that garlic extract had a beneficial effect on total cholesterol, "bad" LDL cholesterol, and "healthy" HDL cholesterol levels in patients with dyslipidemia. The study also suggests garlic may be a safe alternative to traditional cholesterol-lowering drugs. But you’ll want to consult with your doctor first.

    2. Supports immunity

    Garlic is a popular natural immunity booster, potentially helping you fight off infections thanks to its antimicrobial properties. In fact, in the 18th century, people reportedly ate crushed garlic and applied it topically to ward off the plague and treat skin wounds.

    While these stories are anecdotal, recent studies show garlic's active compounds may help reduce the frequency of the common cold and speed up your recovery. For example, research suggests garlic and its active compounds:

    • Have anti-viral properties
    • Boost the immune system
    • Reduce the number of widespread infections

    3. Supports healthy detoxification

    A rich source of sulfur, garlic may help your body get rid of toxins. The Journal of Nutrition notes garlic is really good for this. Plus, garlic's antioxidant properties may also help protect the liver from free radical damage.

    Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

    Final thoughts

    Garlic is more than just a kitchen staple. It's a gift of nature packed with health benefits. From boosting your immunity to detoxifying your body, garlic has so much to offer.



    Stephanie Wright avatar

    Stephanie brings over 13 years of diverse nursing experience to the table, having honed her expertise in critical care, mental health, and utilization management. Her journey as a registered nurse across these various healthcare sectors underscores her adaptability and deep commitment to patient care.

    Fact checker

    Dr. Dimitar Marinov avatar

    Dr. Marinov has years of experience in scientific research and preventive and clinical medicine. His publications in peer-reviewed journals are on nutritional status, physical activity, and musculoskeletal disorders among adolescents.

    At VitaRx, we're not just passionate about our work — we take immense pride in it. Our dedicated team of writers diligently follows strict editorial standards, ensuring that every piece of content we publish is accurate, current, and highly valuable. We don't just strive for quality; we aim for excellence.

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