Good old garlic! Such a powerful food- both in taste and benefits. It has been used as a medicinal treatment for thousands of years, even Hipprocrates (Let food be thy medicine, and medicine by thy food) would prescribe it to people for specific ailments and illnesses.
It is a spice that I use in cooking (or even in special shots) every single week, in fact multiple times a week! I call on it for flavor just as much as I call on it for the benefits that come with consuming it on a regular basis.
Garlic comes from the onion family, and each bulb comes with 10-20 cloves inside. Some bulbs are larger than others. But those little cloves pack a big punch!
Let’s get into the science! There are many studies done around garlic and the uses are many!
Garlic can help reduce blood pressure
There are a lot of diseases that stem from cardiovascular issues. Hypertension, high blood pressure-- these are things to take seriously. Garlic can help with this! (Source)
In a nutshell, garlic increases the production of nitric oxide and this helps certain muscles to relax. It allows blood vessels to dilate. What happens after this process can be a reduction in hypertension. There was even a study that showed that garlic reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people who were hypertensive.
Here’s something else interesting: Have you heard of the drug Atenol? It is used to lower blood pressure. There was a study done where test subjects were given 600–1,500 mg of aged garlic extract and it had the same effect as Atenol! Amazing right? Food really is medicine.
Garlic helps with fatigue
In certain animal studies, garlic has been shown to promote endurance. It is theorized that due to garlic’s rich nutritional profile, it has a “whole body” effect that can really help with exercise athleticism.
In human studies, it has been shown that those with fatigue can produce symptomatic improvement when taking garlic on a regular basis.
Garlic is such a powerful plant, it is thought that all of it’s antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effects (among other things) keeps the body strong!
Garlic can help detoxify the body
More than ever these days, people are becoming more aware of the importance of keeping heavy metals at bay and also keeping their detox pathways open. Bring in the garlic!
There was an interesting study done over a four week period that dealt with workers who worked in a car battery plant- aka they had massive exposure to lead. This study found that garlic not only reduced headaches and blood pressure that could have been from their line of work, but also reduced the levels of lead in their body by 19%.
When taken in higher doses, the sulfur in garlic can have a protection mechanism against organ damage that stem from heavy metals bioaccumulating in the body.
Garlic can help fight off sickness like the common cold
It’s been an old wive’s tale for a long time that garlic can help keep away the common cold! The good news? It’s not a tale, it’s a fact!
Garlic is known to boost the immune system. (Source)
I love a good placebo study, and there was one done where over a 12 week period, test subjects were given garlic supplements daily. Those who took the garlic (vs. those who took the placebo) were able to reduce the number of colds by 63%! What’s more, if a cold was caught, the average length of the cold was reduced by 70% from 5 days (placebo group) to just 1.5 days with group of those taking garlic.
There are even studies that show it can help the flu, not just the common cold! (Source)
Garlic may help brain support (Preventing Alzheimer's and dementia)
Garlic is incredible because it contains antioxidants that actually support the body's protective mechanisms against a specific kind of damage: Oxidative damage. Oxidative damage happens when there is too big of imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Garlic helps with this! (Source) When there is too much oxidative damage, it can wreak havoc on the brain.
It might be a good idea to increase your doses of garlic, as high doses of garlic can increase antioxidant enzyme activity and can even help fight off oxidative damage.
You know how we talked about high blood pressure? Well that can be a factor in diseases like dementia and Alzhiemers. High blood pressure paired with high cholesterol is really a problem. Garlic has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and increase antioxidant activity and because of that trio it is believed that garlic can help reduce the risk of these diseases.
Garlic can promote bone health
There have been several rodent studies that show that garlic can help with bone loss and keeping bones strong in general.
The thought is that for females, high doses of garlic can help increase estrogen, which helps with bone strength. (Source + Source) One study even showed that 2 grams a day of raw garlic helped postmenopausal women increase their estrogen levels.
In general, it is thought that the onion family (which garlic is part of) can help with Osteoporosis and bone health, so it is worth looking into! (Source)
The bottom line on Garlic
Garlic is a wonderful natural food that can help with so many, and this is only the tip of everything it has been shown to do! Typically higher doses yield more results, and being consistent is important, but including it in your day to day even a little bit at a time will be beneficial. Enjoy! I’ll now be making even more dishes with garlic after writing this!