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Garlic and its 5 health effects you should know about

Garlic and its 5 health effects you should know about Illustrative photo (Freepik)
Author: Maria Kholina

Garlic has long been considered great for health, believed to protect against viruses and boost immunity. However, do medical studies support these claims?

Eating Well shared more about five significant health effects of garlic.

Immune support

Chronic inflammation can harm the immune system by reducing the number of white blood cells. Research indicates that garlic helps reduce systemic inflammation and restore white blood cell levels, as reported in a 2021 review in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Research. Allicin, a sulfur-containing compound found in garlic, onions, and leeks, plays a significant role.

Cholesterol reduction

Controlling cholesterol is crucial as high levels increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. A 2020 review in Trends in Food Science & Technology suggests that garlic, with its sulfur-containing compounds, may have antiviral properties, preventing virus entry and replication in cells.

Blood pressure regulation

According to the same review, garlic may lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people with metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Participants saw benefits when consuming 100 mg per kg of body weight of raw crushed garlic twice a day for four weeks.

Blood sugar regulation

Garlic may assist in regulating blood sugar levels, especially in individuals with diabetes. A 2019 meta-analysis in Primary Care Diabetes found garlic to be more effective than a placebo in reducing fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin levels in people with diabetes.

Gut health improvement

Garlic is a good source of prebiotics, nourishing healthy gut bacteria. After three months of taking Kyolic garlic extract supplements, participants in a 2020 review and meta-analysis in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine had more diverse and healthy gut microbiomes.

However, garlic may not be entirely stomach-friendly due to its high fructan content, potentially causing gas and bloating in individuals with irritable bowel syndrome.

Additional potential benefits

Garlic is also a source of antioxidants. Extracts from aged garlic may reduce neuroinflammation and support healthy brain function with age, according to a 2020 study in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine. Moreover, a 2019 study in Nutrients found that among elderly Chinese people, those who consumed more garlic tended to live longer than those who rarely consumed it. However, this study was observational, so we cannot definitively claim that garlic unequivocally contributes to longevity.