Garlic can be a rather divisive herb – some people hate the pungent flavor while others can’t get enough of it. Nevertheless, garlic remains very popular in dishes from around the world.
Closely related to onions, shallots, leeks, and chives, this plant has been cultivated for its culinary and medicinal uses for at least 5,000 years. It contains many beneficial naturally-occurring chemicals like allicin, saponins, and beneficial sulfur-containing compounds.
What are some of the ways garlic can benefit your health? Read on and find out!
1. Garlic Is the Perfect Longevity Herb
When it comes to diet and lifestyle choices, if your main goal is to increase the length of your life, garlic is an absolute must-have. Its innumerable health benefits contribute to holistic well-being in amazing ways, slashing your risk of the most common causes of early death, such as cardiovascular disease.
This is why garlic has seen a long-standing traditional use as a life extender. Bernardo LaPallo is a centenarian—someone who has lived to be over 100 years old—who has credited garlic as a part of the healthy lifestyle responsible for his long life.
2. Garlic Lifts Your Mood
According to Ashley Miller at LIVESTRONG, one traditional naturopathic use of garlic is to improve your mood. This potent herb enhances the production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter important for feelings of happiness.
Laboratory animal studies confirm garlic’s anti-depressant effects. If you have a mental illness like depression, using garlic in addition to psychotherapy and any prescribed psychiatric medication can help speed up your recovery.
If you do not have depression, garlic can still be used by itself to improve overall emotional resilience.
3. Enjoying Garlic Regularly Reduces Frequency of Illness
Catching a cold can be a real drag. It disrupts our work productivity as well as interferes with our ability to enjoy life. Naturally, everyone would benefit from having fewer colds. Garlic can produce this effect, according to the
Food Science and Human Nutrition Department of the University of Florida. Multiple studies have shown that using garlic as a dietary supplement can reduce your frequency of the common cold by 60-70%.
4. When You Do Get a Cold, It Won’t Last as Long
No matter the measures we take, we can’t avoid all colds. So when we do get a cold, we spend much of our time wishing it was over already. This is another aspect of the human immune system that is also benefited by garlic.
If your colds last about 5 days on average, taking a nice, high dose of garlic every day can slash that down to just 1.5 days, according to P. Josling. Enjoy shorter duration of illness with this simple, common plant.
5. Illness Becomes Less Severe With Garlic
There are many facets of the potent effect garlic has on your immune system. Taking the herb increases your body’s number of natural killer cells and T-cells, as well as how active these cells are.
Practically speaking, this immune boost translates to illnesses being less severe, as your immune cells will wipe out pathogens at a better rate. Not only can garlic make the common cold less severe, but it could also be a good treatment for other types of infections as well.
6. Garlic Boosts HDL, or “Good” Cholesterol…
HDL is short for high-density lipoprotein, and this is the “good” type of cholesterol. Higher HDL levels are better, as it helps to remove harmful types of cholesterol from your blood.
There are tons of studies that prove garlic increases HDL, according to Examine.Com. There is a correlation with higher HDL levels and a lower risk of heart disease. For a heart-healthy diet, better dust off your garlic press!
7. While Demolishing LDL, or “Bad” Cholesterol
In contrast to HDL, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is the type of cholesterol you don’t want. Excess LDL in your blood turns into cardiovascular plaque, a buildup that can cause heart attack and stroke.
If you have high LDL levels, eating plenty of garlic is a reliable way to reverse this, according to a large body of research. In fact, after a few weeks you may see your LDL levels drop by 20%.
8. Say Goodbye to High Triglycerides
Triglycerides are another type of lipid, or fat molecule, found in your blood alongside cholesterol. Just like with cholesterol, high triglyceride levels increases your risk of serious cardiovascular problems like heart disease and stroke.
As if garlic’s extraordinary cholesterol-balancing effects weren’t impressive enough, some people who supplement with this herb also experience a small reduction in blood triglycerides.
If your doctor has told you your triglycerides are too high, garlic can form a helpful part of a comprehensive health plan to combat this issue.
9. Garlic Gives You Younger, More Flexible Arteries
Atherosclerosis is a medical condition where your arteries become harder and more narrow. This puts blood flow at risk, and the stiffer your arteries are the harder your heart has to work to pump blood.
Poor diet and lifestyle choices contribute to artery stiffness, though there may also be some genetic component; atherosclerosis is considered an age-related medical problem as it usually does not show up until you are at least middle-aged.
Eating plenty of garlic helps to make your arteries more healthy and supple, as if you were young again. You must supplement with garlic for at least a couple of years to see this effect, so if you want to use garlic for artery health you should think of it as a lifelong habit.
10. High Blood Pressure Is No Match for Garlic
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a pretty common health problem with a wide variety of causes. In fact, researchers believe it affects around 1 in 4 American adults.
Fortunately, this herb that may already have a home in your kitchen is amazing for treating hypertension. Studies on the topic show that garlic produces a sizable reduction in high blood pressure, often a reduction of 10% according to Examine.Com.
11. Garlic Can Sharpen Your Mind
Along with all the physical symptoms of aging, most people also experience some degree of cognitive decline as they get older. Their memory may worsen and they may not be as perceptive as they used to be.
There is research to suggest garlic may improve age-related cognitive decline. As with many other herbs that improve cognition, taking garlic could even help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s further down the road.
For cognition-boosting purposes, lower doses of garlic are actually more effective—just one clove each day.
12. Say Hello to Better Exercise Performance!
Garlic was used thousands of years ago by athletes and manual laborers in Ancient Rome and Ancient Egypt. Modern science confirms that the herb can improve your physical performance.
Studies done on mice have found that the animals have better exercise performance if they eat garlic 30 minutes before exercising. Garlic is especially effective for boosting physical capability in humans if you have poor exercise performance due to a medical condition, such as cardiovascular disease.
13. Preserve Your DNA’s Integrity With Garlic
One major aspect of aging is DNA damage. Tons of plant foods and herbal medicines contain antioxidants, which are compounds that help prevent such damage and therefore slow down aging.
Turmeric is a spice that is famous for its potent antioxidant properties. However, research shows that garlic is just as effective for preventing DNA damage as turmeric!
Garlic is especially good if you have a medical condition that could be causing extra DNA damage, such as hypertension.
14. Give Garlic a Try for Enlarged Prostate
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is the medical term for when you have an enlarged prostate gland. This condition is not dangerous, but it often causes problems with urination.
Enlarged prostate is age-related and very common—about half of all men over 75 have it. Garlic is extremely useful for relieving enlarged prostate, and therefore also the urinary problems that it causes.
Just one month of taking garlic as a supplement reduces your enlarged prostate by a whopping 32%, according to several Turkish universities including Ankara University, Kirikkale University, and S.D. University.
It really seems that garlic is the perfect herbal medicine for all manner of age-related symptoms! I think all older adults should give garlic a try.
15. Flood Your Body With Nitric Oxide
Nitric oxide is a chemical found naturally in the human body. It has the basic function of expanding your blood vessels and enhancing blood flow. If you can increase your nitric oxide levels, it spells out huge benefits for physical fitness (if you exercise regularly).
Shannon Clark at Bodybuilding.Com says the fitness benefits of higher nitric oxide levels include increased recovery rates, reduced fatigue levels, better endurance, and improved energy metabolism.
According to researchers at Sinha Institute of Medical Science & Technology, eating just one clove of garlic increases nitric oxide levels by 224%, two to four hours after ingestion. Nitric oxide also plays a role in brain function, so eating more garlic could promote good brain health.
What’s the Best Way to Reap the Benefits of Garlic?
The best way to use garlic as a dietary supplement for health is to use raw, whole garlic. You must chop or crush the garlic well in order to rupture the plant’s cell walls to release the allicin.
There are many tasty ways to incorporate raw garlic into your diet; here is a video detailing a few ways you could do so.
The smallest effective dose you can take is one fresh clove of garlic, eaten with at least two of your daily meals. The more raw garlic you eat, the more benefits you may see, except in the case of cognitive benefits where smaller doses are more appropriate.
However, even the healthiest, most beneficial herbs can be toxic in too-large doses. If you weigh 100 pounds, you should not eat more than 3 cloves of garlic in one day.
Add 1 more garlic clove for each additional 25 pounds that you weigh.
That Wraps It Up!
Garlic is a very common culinary herb with benefits far beyond what most people even realize. Use garlic to improve:
- Mood balance
- Cholesterol and triglycerides
- Cardiovascular health
With so many benefits, who could say no to adding more of this affordable plant to their diet? Eat a few cloves every day and see which of the benefits I’ve talked about you experience.