Last Updated on September 13, 2022 by Rebecca Huff
We eat garlic on a daily basis. I mix it into salad dressings, spread it on toast, stir it in veggies, and dozens of other ways. You can see some of the ways we use garlic in the video further down in this post. If you don't already, I encourage you to find more ways to get some garlic into your diet.
Garlic has so many health benefits! Garlic has been used in many cultures for thousands of years. It has long been considered one the most effective health foods on earth. This is especially true when eaten raw.
My dad always said he gained most of his wisdom by spending time with “old-timers” and truthfully, most of his friends were significantly older than he was. One thing he taught me was the health benefits of raw garlic. Those bits of wisdom he taught me have been confirmed over the years as I have read numerous books that praise the many benefits of garlic. First, you need to know the proper way to use garlic to boost your health.
Health Benefits of Garlic
Most widely known for their ability to improve cases of hypertension, garlic and garlic supplements are popular for the health benefits they bring to the table. When I worked for five years as the manager of a Vitamin store, it was one of the most popular supplements we sold. Many older people take aged garlic extract to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Many times I'd chat with a customer about vitamins and time and time again, they'd tell me their doctor recommended garlic to prevent a heart attack.
Kyolic is a brand of aged garlic that is very popular as a dietary supplement. In fact, the effects of garlic on hypertension have even been studied using this particular brand of “aged garlic” with good results.
Kyolic-aged-garlic-extract is effective in reducing blood pressure in patients with uncontrolled hypertension, and has the potential to improve arterial stiffness, inflammation, and gut microbial profile. Aged-garlic-extract is highly tolerable with a high safety profile as a stand-alone or adjunctive antihypertensive treatment, with multiple benefits for cardiovascular health. (2)
Aged garlic in combination with Coenzyme Q 10 has been found to cause a significant improvement in those with atherosclerosis. (3)
Garlic contains over 30 sulfur compounds and vitamin C and vitamin b6, manganese, selenium, iron, copper, and potassium as well.
Health Benefits of Garlic Consumption
There are so many incredible garlic health benefits you'll want to add it to every meal.
- May lower High Blood Pressure as well as medication (ask your doctor)
- Combats oxidative stress with its many antioxidants (inhibits free radical generation)
- It may help prevent Alzheimer's and Dementia
- Athletes can use to improve performance as the Ancient Greeks did
- Cancer Prevention (Lowers cancer risk according to many studies as well as the American Institute for Cancer Research. Particularly colon cancer. In addition, other reports have found that those who frequently eat garlic have a lower risk of colorectal cancer as garlic slows the growth of cancer cells and contribute to DNA repair.)
- Detoxes heavy metals
- May lower blood sugar levels; good news for diabetics. (4)
- Fights Common Cold & boosts the immune system
- Inhibits fungi, yeast, parasites, and other harmful microorganisms
- Garlic helps clear the lungs
- Can help restore energy to the body
- Keeps Iron in Blood Circulation longer
- Lowers cholesterol levels, in particular taking garlic daily for 8 weeks may reduce LDL cholesterol.
- Lowers the risk of heart disease
- May improve bone health, though more human studies are needed, some suggest it may lower your risk of osteoporosis.
- Some studies indicate lower instances of osteoarthritis in those who regularly consume garlic or garlic supplements.
- Can help with a toothache or abscessed tooth (1)
- Garlic has mood-boosting, de-stressing effects (garlic relaxes your blood vessels!)
- Antifungal – particularly against yeast and candida
- The allicin in garlic has broad antimicrobial properties
- Garlic has a unique ability to prevent the formation of blood clots. Platelets are less likely to stick together in your arteries when you consume garlic regularly.
- With all its benefits, garlic may help you live a longer life!
The medicinal properties of garlic (and shallots) are numerous. Nutritionists and scientists alike agree that raw garlic has a wide range of health benefits. The only risk factors are for those on blood thinners or anyone about to have surgery. (Doctors recommend not to consume much garlic prior to surgery due to it's blood thinning properties. See notes below.)
Eating raw garlic is often associated with bad breath. This is likely the reason many people prefer not to eat it. However, scientific studies show that the antioxidant properties are higher in raw garlic than in cooked. See the section below on how not to smell bad when you eat garlic.
However the heart health benefits of consuming raw garlic or at least only lightly cooked are many. (Boiled less than three minutes or quick sauteed appears to be the best way to retain the allicin content intact.)
Garlic contains decent amounts of multiple minerals including calcium, iron, and potassium. Another compound found in garlic is diallyl disulfide, an anti-inflammatory that assists your immune system in staying in peak performance.
How to Use Garlic
You can use garlic in so many dishes whether raw or cooked. Watch the video at the bottom of this post to see a handful of ways we use it.
I start by placing the garlic root side up and pressing gently with the palm of my hand at a slight angle so the individual cloves separate and the outer skin comes off.
See how it falls apart so beautifully?
You can peel garlic cloves quickly and easily using a tool like this one. Just pop the garlic in and roll it back and forth. The peeling comes off and the bulb rolls out.
Or you can place the garlic on a cutting board and place the wide flat side of a knife over it then smack with your hand, being careful of the blade, then simply remove the layer of skin. This is also a great way to crush the garlic just before you let it rest and use it in recipes. Crushing before using is important to receive the health benefits of garlic.
To stimulate the enzyme process that converts the alliin to allicin which will give you the most health benefits, chop or crush and then allow the garlic to rest for about 5-10 minutes before cooking or eating the garlic or even before adding it to other foods.
Research shows that ingredients with a pH below 3.4 deactivate the enzymes that are most beneficial. Many of the anti-cancer benefits are preserved if you will allow the garlic to sit crushed for about 10 minutes before heating during the cooking process.
Have you ever seen that little green sprout in the middle of the garlic clove? You can leave it or remove it, that is up to you. I have read that it is difficult to digest. I have also read that it has a fresher more garlicky flavor. I never remove mine and I have never noticed a problem with my digestion, but it is worth noting that if you experience digestion problems you might want to remove the little green sprout if you find one. It usually appears in garlic that is aging a bit and is not really a big problem.
Garlic Oil is said to be useful for infections, acne, earache, and more.
How to eat garlic
If you don't enjoy eating garlic, then you might consider supplementation. However, if you do enjoy garlic, eat up because it's so good for you. I keep a small dish of garlic bulbs right next to my stove and the first thing I do when I start cooking is to smash the garlic.
My favorite way to feel like I am doing my body good is just to crush a clove of garlic and lay it on a spoon, then wait 10 minutes, cover it with honey, then just eat it. My husband and children also do this if they are feeling unwell. But here are a few suggestions that will be more enticing 🙂
Garlic can be added to your favorite juice blends. The therapeutic effects of juicing are enhanced by adding a small amount of garlic. One of my favorites is:
Summer Garden Delight Juice
½ red bell pepper
2 celery stalks
½ clove of garlic
I don’t add garlic to juices very often, but this blend is great for fighting the signs of aging and it also revitalizes your cells from the inside out. It is high in potassium which helps to tighten the collagen in your skin. Drink up! Especially in the summer, if you receive veggies from a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
Another great way to get in extra garlic is to add it to your salad dressings. Here’s a delicious garlic and oil based dressing you might enjoy, though it might need to be modified slightly for children:
Garlic Lovers Salad Dressing
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled (crush and let rest 10 minutes)
¼ teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan Sea Salt
¼ teaspoon dill weed
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
(if I want my children to eat this up, I will add about 1-2 tablespoons of local honey)
Crush garlic and let it rest while you measure out the other ingredients into your blender. After 5-10 minutes resting, process all ingredients together on high speed until creamy. Serve over salad greens and veggies. Also tastes great on pasta salad. Trim Healthy Mama’s can use Dreamfields or even some Not Naughty Noodles.
More ways to use garlic
I like to add garlic to most soups and stirfry dishes that I create with or without a recipe. It also goes great with potatoes! In fact, garlic may help with weight loss by increasing energy and it is a known appetite suppressant.
Here’s how I incorporate them in potato dishes. While you are boiling the potatoes, just roast a few cloves of garlic in the oven, when you are mashing the potatoes just throw in a few cloves of the roasted garlic, believe me, it’s delicious. If you like to make potato latkes, adding some garlic will take them over the top. I have also added garlic to sweet potato fries and all I can say is WOW!
If you like fermented foods, try making your own kimchi. My daughter and I recently started trying out some Korean recipes and garlic is often used in traditional Korean cooking. The kimchi we made smells strongly of garlic, but the flavor is over the top delicious!
Try my steak with browned garlic butter, especially if you follow a low-carb or ketogenic lifestyle. I probably don’t need to mention garlic bread, but if you use sourdough bread the health benefits will be increased.
I often melt a little butter in a pan then add some crushed garlic and pour into molds to keep in the fridge to top toast and veggies. If you wanna get all fancy, you can even throw in a few chopped fresh parsley leaves, or even some dried parsley. Just blend it well and let it harden. It looks beautiful.
Mix garlic and chives, onions or leeks to power up the benefits.
Here's a link to an Apple Cider Vinegar and Garlic drink that is said to reduce the risk of catching a common cold or to reduce the duration if you already caught a cold. Try it!
How not to smell bad when you eat garlic
The best way not to smell like garlic is to not eat it, haha, but since that’s not going to happen, you should try to get everyone around you to eat garlic as well because it is less noticeable if everyone is eating it. 🙂
Seriously though, the best way to tame the garlic smell is simply through upping your hygiene game. Obviously, brushing your teeth helps somewhat, but you can also chew on parsley leaves, cloves, or even a few coffee beans to neutralize the odor. Drinking green tea or peppermint tea while eating garlic or afterward is said to help neutralize the sulfur odors.
I also like to keep DoTerra OnGuard or Peppermint Beadlets in my purse. Garlic breath isn't necessarily bad breath. Halitosis is caused by bacteria and the use of garlic reduces bad bacteria, so garlic intake should help people with true bad breath. Although some people find the smell of garlic offensive.
I find it interesting that my friends from other countries don't seem to care about “garlic breath” as much. Friends from Ukraine, Korea, China, Germany, and Mexico have all told me that they don't mind the smell of garlic and that they eat garlic every day.
I’m sure we smell like garlic from time to time, but that’s ok. It keeps people from getting in your personal space! One time my daughter (which one shall remain unnamed – but I will say she practices excellent hygiene) prepared some roasted garlic and enjoyed quite a bit of it on some nice sourdough bread. Later, she went on a road trip with some family members, who actually had to roll down the windows … yeah, the aroma tends to seep out of your pores if you eat a massive amount of it.
It can also give you gas if you overindulge! Here are a few other side effects and warnings about garlic to keep in mind.
Warnings about garlic
As mentioned above, garlic can cause gastrointestinal distress if taken in large doses. Some people experience heartburn when they eat fresh garlic. If you aren't used to eating garlic, it might be best to start with a small amount.
Fresh garlic can cause a chemical burn to your skin, so be cautious about how you use it. If you rub raw garlic directly on your skin you may cause irritation or worse.
Garlic can lower blood pressure, so if you suffer from low blood pressure, take it with caution.
Garlic might prolong bleeding and interfere with blood pressure. It is advised to stop taking garlic at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Garlic does have a few drug interactions so do your research or ask your doctor when taking medicines, especially blood thinners. (2) See the link for further details on medicine interactions.
Also, garlic and onions have known toxicity for dogs and cats due to the sulfides, so keep it away from your furry friends.
So what is your favorite way to use garlic? Have you noticed any benefits from taking raw garlic?
Don't forget to pin this post for later!
Ried, Karin, and Peter Fakler. “Potential of garlic (Allium sativum) in lowering high blood pressure: mechanisms of action and clinical relevance.” Integrated blood pressure control vol. 7 71-82. 9 Dec. 2014, doi:10.2147/IBPC.S51434
Ried, Karin et al. “The Effect of Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract on Gut Microbiota, Inflammation, and Cardiovascular Markers in Hypertensives: The GarGIC Trial.” Frontiers in nutrition vol. 5 122. 11 Dec. 2018, doi:10.3389/fnut.2018.00122
Zeb, Irfan et al. “Aged garlic extract and coenzyme Q10 have favorable effect on inflammatory markers and coronary atherosclerosis progression: A randomized clinical trial.” Journal of cardiovascular disease research vol. 3,3 (2012): 185-90. doi:10.4103/0975-3583.98883
Bayan, Leyla et al. “Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects.” Avicenna journal of phytomedicine vol. 4,1 (2014): 1-14.
American Institute for Cancer Research https://www.aicr.org/news/4-reasons-eating-garlic-is-good-for-cancer-prevention/