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Benefits of Garlic—Other Than Great Flavor!

by Jill-Ann Ouellette

Benefits of Garlic

Who doesn’t love garlic? Think of how boring that fantastic Italian dish your mother made would be without it or that wonderful veggie stir-fry. A fresh, heirloom tomato salad without garlic? Bland, for sure! Garlic—both the cloves and green tops—is mostly used as a condiment and seasoning in a variety of recipes. It adds flavor (pungent when raw, sweet and buttery when cooked), to most dishes while making them simpler to digest at the same time. Perhaps it’s a surprise to know that China consumes the most garlic per capita. It also produces 80% of the global supply.

Nothing beats the taste and nutrition of garlic grown in your backyard or bought at a local farmer’s market or health-food store. Highly nutritious, one raw clove contains vitamins and minerals like manganese, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and fiber. It also contains a good amount of calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B1.

Taking a daily garlic supplement (or eating roughly four cloves a day—probably not) helps blood flow easily throughout the body and lowers high blood pressure. Garlic has the ability to moderately lower blood triglycerides, total cholesterol, and reduce the formation of arterial plaque.

Garlic is good for you with its anti-inflammatory actions as well as being low in calories. The key component of garlic is diallyl disulfide, which limits the effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines. What are cytokines? They are small, non-structural proteins, which regulate inflammation in the body. If you have sore and inflamed joints or muscles, you can rub them with garlic oil. Well, maybe on your day off, or if you live alone—or if you married a Mediterranean garlic lover!

Having chronic inflammation can reduce your immunity by reducing your white blood cells. Per a 2021 review in the Journal of Clinical and Translational Research, garlic extract was found to restore white-blood-cell counts while helping to reduce systemic inflammation. This is largely thanks to allicin, a sulfur-containing compound found in allium foods like onions, chives and garlic. Allicin in garlic blocks the activity of angiotensin II, and therefore helps in reducing blood pressure.

Garlic has antibiotic, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties to boot! An antimicrobial is an agent that kills microorganisms or stops their growth. Antimicrobial medicines can be grouped according to the microorganisms against which they primarily act. For example, antibiotics are used against bacteria, and antifungals are used against fungi. Garlic may even prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia through their anti-oxidative properties.

Now that we have discussed the wonders of garlic, whether raw cloves, cooked whole bulbs, or taken as a supplement, add more garlic to your diet to take a great step to a healthier you. Whether you prefer conveniently packaged supplementation or minced garlic from easy-to-use, peeled cloves, fresh garlic will impart many benefits and a strong, delicious taste to your cuisine! Keep calm and garlic on!

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