6 Great Reasons Why Garlic is Good For You

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Bad for your breath, good for your health

Garlic has long been considered both a seasoning staple and powerful medicine by many human societies. Ancient Greece, Egypt, and India alike believed garlic to be effective at treating respiratory issues, high blood pressure, tuberculosis, fatigue, fevers, and other illnesses. Garlic was also thought to be an aphrodisiac and a stimulant, in addition to its culinary and medicinal uses.

In more recent years, scientific studies and research trials have backed some of these traditional uses and cast doubt on others. The organic sulfur compound garlic contains, allicin, has been linked to many of its healing properties, in addition to other nutrients contained in this small and strong vegetable.

So what are garlic’s proven health benefits? Farm to Fit took a look at the research and found 8 great reasons why garlic is good for you.

Garlic Bulbs Photo by team voyas on Unsplash

1. Garlic may help with hypertension (high blood pressure)

Nearly half of all US adults have hypertension, and only one quarter of that group has their high blood pressure under control. Human studies have shown garlic supplements (~4 cloves of garlic per day) to be as effective at reducing blood pressure as some hypertension medications. Consult with your heartcare provider and sous-chef before beginning garlic supplements.

2. Garlic may reduce cholesterol levels

Garlic’s heart benefits continue with its ability to discourage your liver from producing excess cholesterol. Research has shown that garlic supplements are effective at lowering both total and LDL (bad) cholesterol without affecting good cholesterol (HDL). 

3. Garlic can improve immune response

Compounds like ajoene and allicin contained in garlic have been linked to reduced cancer risk, as well as combating the common cold. Some studies have shown that people who regularly eat garlic are less likely to catch colds, and tend to have a shorter duration when they do. These antimicrobial and antibiotic chemicals in raw garlic still require more research to conclusively prove their effectiveness. 

Got garlic on the brain? Why not fill up the fridge with paprika steak and garlic mashed potatoes? Or chicken saltimbocca with roasted garlic, peppers, and almonds? Order online with Farm to Fit and get fit meals delivered straight to your door. Portland’s local meal delivery service since 2011.

Garlic Bulb and Cloves Photo by Tijana Drndarski on Unsplash

4. Garlic carries amazing antioxidants

Decomposition of allicin generates a powerful antioxidant that can protect your body from oxidative free radical damage. This in turn may reduce the risk of degenerative diseases like Alzheimers and dementia, and may increase general longevity.

5. Garlic works as an anti-inflammatory compound

The chemical compound diallyl disulfide contained in garlic is a powerful anti-inflammatory. In small studies, garlic supplements more effectively reduced inflammation, pain, and fatigue than the control group.  You can also rub inflamed joints or muscles with garlic oil for more direct relief.

Cooking with Garlic Photo by Syd Wachs on Unsplash

6. Garlic is nutritious and delicious

For its meager ~4 calories, a single clove of garlic contains a bounty of vitamins and minerals, including manganese, selenium, vitamin B6, vitamin B1 vitamin C, copper, potassium, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. Since it's such a potent and tasty little root, it also makes everything it's cooked with a little more healthy and flavorful. Many dieticians point to this as garlic's biggest health benefit, as it encourages us to eat more vegetables we might not normally like the taste of.