Garlic: Properties and Benefits


Garlic grows in many areas of the world and thanks to its intense aroma and delicious taste is a very popular ingredient in the kitchen. Throughout history, however, thanks to its organoleptic properties, its main use was the therapeutic one

Garlic, scientific name Allium sativum, belongs to the Aliaceae family. The Aliaceae are vegetables that mostly have a bulb. This is only a short modified stem. 

Garlic  has a number of properties so high that make it a valuable plant.

Garlic: properties and benefits

Garlic has been appreciated since ancient times for its unique aroma, with the passage of time then his fame has acquired many attributes therapeutic. It has been used frequently to heal, and above all prevent, different types of disorders and even epidemics.

Garlic has played important roles and nutritional medicines throughout history. Some of the first references to this medicinal plant were found in Avesta. It is a collection of sacred Zoroastrian writings that was probably compiled in the 6 th century B.C.


Studies on its benefits are second only to those on turmeric, reflecting the fact that its therapeutic properties are really important. The most up-to-date studies report that eating garlic regularly has been associated with the prevention of the top 4 causes of death worldwide: heart disease, stroke, cancer and infections. (1)

The National Cancer Institute, for example, while not recommending any dietary supplement for the prevention of tumors, recognizes this vegetable as a food possessing potential anticancer properties .

For the promotion of  adult health, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the consumption of a daily dose of 2,5 grams of fresh garlic or 0,4 to 1,2 of that in powder.

Chemical Composition

Chemical composition for 100 grams of garlic
Water g 58.6
Protein g 6.4
Carbohydrates g 33.1
Fat g 0.5
Sugars g 1
Fibers g 2.1
Ashes g 1.5
Calcium mg 181
Iron mg 1.7
Magnesium mg 25
Phosphorus mg 153
Potassium mg 401
Sodium mg 17
Zinc mg 12
Copper mg 0.3
Manganese mg 1.7
Selenium mcg 14.2
Vitamin A IU 9
B1 mg 0.1
B2 mg 0.2
B3 mg 0.7
B5 mg 0.6
B6 mg 1.2
Vitamin C mg 31.2
Vitamin E mg 0.1
Vitamin J mg 23.2
Vitamin K mcg 1.7
Folate mcg 3

Source: Nutritiondata

The precious garlic bulb contains about 400 different healing components of the human body.

Other constituents of garlic are beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.

Amino acids : aspartic acid and glutamic acid, alanine, arginine, cystine, glycine, phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, proline, methionine, serine, tyrosine, tryptophan, valine and threonine.

Its most important properties, however, depend on a sulphurous essence present in the bulb. Its active ingredient is allicin which has strong antiseptic properties. Fresh bulbs contain from 0,1 to 0,4 of essential oil.


100 grams of edible portion have a caloric intake of 149 kcal.

Garlic: Properties and Benefits

Throughout history, many cultures have recognized the potential use of garlic for the prevention and treatment of various diseases. Recent studies support the effects of garlic and its extracts in a wide range of applications.

It is believed that several compounds present in this vegetable reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, have antitumor and antimicrobial properties and show benefits on the high concentration of glucose in the blood.

Antibacterial Properties

Garlic has been used for centuries in various cultures to fight infectious diseases. Although no written reference is available, it is believed that Louis Pasteur described his antibacterial effect in 1.858 for the first time.

More recently, this plant has been shown to be effective against a plethora of gram-positive, gram-negative and acid-resistant bacteria. Among these are SalmonellaEscherichia coli, PseudomonasProteusStaphylococcus aureus, Klebsiell, Clostridium, Mycobacterium and  Helicobacte r.  (23456 )

Its antibacterial properties are widely attributed to allicin. The antibacterial effect of different concentrations of garlic extract against the human dental plaque microbiota has been demonstrated in an in vitro study. ( 7 )

Garlic has also been suggested as a treatment for drug-resistant tuberculosis. ( 8 )

See also: black garlic properties and benefits


There are several studies that suggest that garlic supplements can reduce LDL cholesterol by 15%. According to scientific research this precious plant reduces bad cholesterol levels while leaving good cholesterol levels unchanged. ( 9 , 10 )

A study conducted in Pakistan instead found that garlic was able to reduce LDL cholesterol in patients with diabetes. ( 11 )

A study conducted at New York Medical College suggests that garlic, in an approximate amount of half a clove per day, reduces total serum cholesterol levels by about 9%. ( 12 )

An Australian study reports that this vegetable has useful properties to reduce cholesterol. ( 13 )

High blood cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. reduction of  8% of the total serum cholesterol is clinically significant and is associated with a reduction of 38% in the risk of coronary events in 50 years.

A very recent chinese study confirms the results of the studies cited above. ( 14 )

Blood Pressure

It also has beneficial properties against blood pressure. Its regular and moderate consumption in many cases is able to balance blood pressure values.

The cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and stroke, are the leading causes of death worldwide. Hypertension is one of the main causes of these diseases.

There are several scientific studies that have shown that regular intake of this plant is effective in reducing blood pressure. ( 15 , 16 , 17 )

A 2013 study conducted in Saudi Arabia confirmed what has just been written. It has been shown that doses of 600-1.500 mg are as effective as the drug Atenolol in reducing blood pressure. ( 18 )

Several clinical studies have shown that this vegetable has reduced blood pressure in over 80% of patients with hypertension.

A study of 47 hypertensive patients showed that the precious bulb significantly reduced mean systolic blood pressure by 12 mmHg and mean diastolic blood pressure of 9 mmHg compared to placebo. The researchers stated that garlic was free of side effects and that no serious complications were reported. ( 19 )

It has been suggested that the mechanism of anti-hypertensive activity of garlic is due to its effects similar to prostaglandins, which decrease peripheral vascular resistance. ( 20 )

Heart Health

Garlic and its preparations have been widely recognized as agents for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

The abundance of scientific literature maintains that its consumption has significant effects on the reduction of blood pressure, on the prevention of atherosclerosis, on the reduction of serum cholesterol and triglycerides and on the inhibition of platelet aggregation. ( 21 )

As we have just seen its consumption is good for blood pressure, only this makes this food a valid help for the heart. Garlic has been widely recognized as a valuable preventive agent and for the treatment of diseases such as heart disease, cancers and diabetes.

A review of Indian studies has established that overall the consumption of this plant has relevant cardioprotective effects, both in animals and in humans. One of the most surprising properties is its ability to remove plaque from the arteries. ( 22 )

A 2016 study examined the effects of the precious bulb  on a group of patients with metabolic syndrome. The results showed that the aged garlic extract effectively reduces plaque from the coronary arteries. ( 23 )

Another recent study confirmed that the extract can help slow the progress of arteriosclerosis and reverse the early stages of heart disease. ( 24 )

In vitro experiments, garlic administration suppressed the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and increased HDL. This can be one of its protective mechanisms and its beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. ( 25 )

It has also been reported that this vegetable reduces the risk of peripheral arterial occlusive diseases and increases the elastic properties of blood vessels and capillaries. ( 26 )


Very recent studies inform us that the sulphurous compounds present in vegetables such as onion and garlic are able to influence the processes that modify the risk of cancer. ( 27 ) A French study conducted on more than 300 breast cancer patients found that increased consumption of vegetables containing sulfur compounds decreased the risk of breast cancer. ( 28 )

Garlic also appears to have beneficial effects on pancreatic cancer. A US study found that those who consume more garlic and onions have a 54% reduced risk of developing pancreatic cancer. ( 29 )

Animal research suggests that taking oral liquid garlic extract increases oral cancer cell death. ( 30 )

recent study, carried out in China and the USA, suggests that used regularly in the diet, it can have protective effects against cancer. In addition to this, it has unique properties. It is able to inhibit, delay or even reverse the human cancerous process. The results of these experiments were presented at the international symposium on New frontiers in hematology and oncology.

An Italian study reports that garlic reduces the growth rate of cancer cells. ( 31 )

In 1990, the US National Cancer Institute initiated the Designer Food Program to determine which foods played an important role in cancer prevention. The results established that garlic could be the best food with preventive properties against tumors.

It is possible anticancer mechanisms and its constituents may include inhibition of tumor activation. ( 32 )

Strengthens the Immune System

The intake of the precious bulb is known to increase the reactivity of the immune system. A large well-documented study has shown that a daily garlic supplement reduces 63% of colds compared to placebo.

There are also other studies that  claim that it has properties that can strengthen the immune system. One of these studies lasted 12 weeks and was published in the US National Library of Medicine. The study considered 100 volunteers. The properties of garlic against the immune system have been tested. ( 33 )

Half of the volunteer patients were treated with a placebo. The other half was given a garlic extract. After 12 weeks these were the results. Those who took the extract reduced the number of colds by  63% compared to those treated with placebo.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia

As we know, oxidative damage induced by free radicals accelerates the aging process of our cells.

Studies have shown that this vegetable contains antioxidants that help the body protect itself from oxidative damage. ( 34 )

Scientific research suggests that the effects of blood pressure reduction and cholesterol reduction combined with antioxidants have very beneficial effects on health. ( 35 ) The studies confirm that these properties can help prevent widespread brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. ( 36 )

It has been shown by several studies that high doses of this vegetable supplement increase the antioxidant potential in humans. This results in a reduction of oxidative damage to the general level with great health benefits.

To Live Longer

The effects on longevity are practically impossible to prove on humans. However, given its beneficial effects on blood pressure and cholesterol, it is legitimate to think that this vegetable can help you live longer.

Its ability to fight infectious diseases is also an important factor for longevity. These in fact are among the most common causes of death, especially among the elderly.

Heavy Metals

In the right doses, the sulfur compounds in the bulb have been shown to protect the body against damage caused by heavy metals. A 4-week study published in the US National Library of Medicine demonstrated these properties. ( 37 )

The study was carried out on employees of a car battery factory, where there was a strong exposure to lead. Garlic has reduced the level of lead in the blood by 19%. In addition to lowering blood lead levels, it has also reduced intoxication symptoms such as headaches and headaches high blood pressure.

Garlic: Properties and benefits

Athletic performances

In the history of humanity, garlic has probably been one of the first foods used to improve physical performance.

Some studies suggest that exercise- induced fatigue can be reduced with garlic. ( 38 ) In another test carried out on people with heart disease, the garlic oil taken for 6 weeks has given good results. The results showed a 12% reduction in heart rate and improved their physical efficiency. ( 39 )

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Bone Health

A study of menopausal women found that a daily dose of dry garlic extract decreases estrogen deficiency. This suggests that this vegetable can have beneficial effects on bones in women. ( 40 )

In another 2010 study it was found that the plants belonging to the Aliaceae family have benevolent effects on osteoarthritis. ( 41 )

Cold and Flu

A British study in 2001 showed that a daily supplement of this precious plant reduced the number of colds compared to placebo by 63%. The beneficial effects of the precious bulb were also seen on the duration of the illness. ( 42 )

In fact the duration of symptoms of the common cold is decreased by 70%. If those taking the placebo had an average duration of 5 days, the supplement group had an average cold duration of 1,5 days.

Another study conducted in 2012 at the University of Florida supports this property. The test showed that  2,56 grams of garlic extract per day can reduce the duration of flu and cold by 61%. ( 43 )


According to a study conducted in Turkey, the gel produced with this formidable vegetable increases the therapeutic efficacy of topical corticosteroid in the treatment of alopecia areata. ( 44 )


A study published on suggests that consumption of this vegetable helps regulate blood sugar levels. ( 45 )

A study conducted on diabetic rats found that cholesterol, triglyceride and blood sugar levels, had decreased significantly after 7 weeks of raw garlic intake. ( 46 )

A Pakistani study has shown beneficial short-term effects of garlic on dyslipidemia in diabetic patients. ( 47 )

An Indian study suggests that garlic extracts are effective in reducing insulin resistance. ( 48 )

See also: Garlic care

The Garlic on the Table

It is important to make a concept clear: there are many compounds or tablets that progress presents to us in order to avoid the olfactory effects due to the consumption of garlic.

In order to keep the healing properties unchanged and to carry out its benefits on the human body, it must be eaten raw. If we are really annoyed by the smell, we can resort to the always valid remedy of the grandmother. Slowly chew 2 roasted coffee beans.

Go ahead then to the garlic on the table, raw, squeezed on the salads or chopped together with a few leaves of parsley. Excellent rubbed on slices of homemade bread with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil.

To want to see its uses are infinite. I think the only limit is the imagination of the person who prepares it.

Those who are convinced they cannot bear it or digest it could start with very small doses. The quantity is gradually increased. It is a proven method that often gives good results.

Garlic, oil and hot pepper

For true garlic lovers I suggest this recipe garlic, oil and chilli. The recipe calls for the use and maintenance of raw garlic.

This is to keep the properties and benefits intact, as well as the taste.

Ingredients for one person:

100 gr of pasta (spaghetti or bavette), two cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, parsley, dried chilli.


Bring a small pan and pour in the 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Take the 2 slices, clean them, and slice them into very small cubes. You can also squeeze with the garlic squeezer (personally I prefer the cubes).

Light the fire under the pan with the oil and add the freshly cut garlic (or squeezed). Add some dried chilli too (depending on your taste, but it’s better not to overdo it).

Pasta aglio olio e peperoncino


IMPORTANT: as soon as you see the first cooking bubbles around the garlic turn off fire immediately. In this way you will leave the garlic almost raw and the oil flavored by its taste.

As soon as the pasta is cooked, pour it into the pan with the garlic. Add the chopped parsley (to taste), rekindle the heat to very low heat and stir for a couple of minutes. Enjoy your meal!


Since ancient times it was used not only for its particular aroma but, thanks to its properties, as a real food plant.

The workers who worked on the construction of the great pyramid of Cheops, in Egypt, used it daily as food. In addition to making the effort more bearable, it seems that it increased physical strength and power.

Garlic has also played an important role in the Sumerians and the Egyptians. There is evidence that during the first Olympics in Greece, this vegetable was given to athletes to increase endurance.

To these virtues of a generic nature, Pliny the Elder added others. He considered it diuretic, effective against intestinal worms, suitable for fighting asthma and jaundice. He even considered it a valid antidote against anger and poison.

To these positive premises over the centuries others were added. Popular medicine saw garlic as a force capable of healing and bringing benefits in a great variety of ailments.

Ancient Chinese and Indian medicine recommended it to promote breathing and digestion and to treat leprosy and parasitic infestations.

It happened to me, a few years ago, to be warned by a mountain dweller, who knew a lot about herbs, in these terms:

” If you want to stay healthy, don’t forget to consume 2 cloves of garlic a week!” A council that probably has its roots in the food culture of the whole of humanity and which, in truth, has cost me no effort to follow. I am in fact a convinced admirer and supporter of its beneficial properties.

Even in case of toothache caused by cariesgarlic is useful. To use it in these cases it is necessary to squeeze it and put the dough obtained on the painful part.

Maybe not everyone knows that

Interestingly, even Hippocrates, a famous Greek physician, recommended the use of garlic as a medicinal plant. During the first Olympic Games, garlic was given to athletes as a stimulant.

Roman soldiers, for example, consumed enormous quantities of garlic. They considered it capable of purifying and strengthening the body.

In 1.858, Luigi Pasteur identified the antibiotic properties. At the beginning of the 20th century, Albert Schweitzer used it in Africa as the only job against dysentery.

Who wants to adopt a healthy diet should include in his diet a regular use of garlic, strictly raw.

This is one of the best ways to consume it and take advantage of its properties and benefits. Squeeze a couple of fresh cloves, add good extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and use it all as a raw dressing.

There are two species of wild garlic, the wild garlic ( Allium ursinum ) and the yellow garlic ( Allium flavum ).

The yellow one grows in the wet areas, often near the water courses, in the period between February and May. The yellow garlic has a look and a leek-like flavor. The characteristic odor is due to the numerous substances deriving from sulfur, including allicin and diallyl disulfide .


As with all foods, even if they are beneficial, the rule is not to overdo it. Consuming excessive amounts of garlic can lead to unpleasant consequences such as nausea and vomiting.

Its use is not recommended for people suffering from certain diseases such as gastritis and ulcer. Garlic in fact, could increase the symptoms caused by these disorders.

Garlic, because of its properties that can thin the blood. It is not recommended when taking  vasodilator drugs as it could cause unpleasant side effects. In any case, however, in case of taking medications, it is always better to consult your doctor.

Even pregnant women should refrain from consuming it. In addition to altering the taste of breast milk, some substances may pass into the milk and cause intestinal disorders to the unborn child.

Finally there are people who do not tolerate the precious bulb and therefore have problems digesting it. In these cases, if after some tests the problem persists, better to desist from eating it raw and try to eat it cooked.

Garlic: Properties and Benefits

Italian version


This is not a medical newspaper, the information provided by this site is for informational purposes only and is of a general nature, it cannot in any way replace the prescriptions of a doctor or other health professionals authorized by law. The notions of dosage, medical procedures and product descriptions on this site have an illustrative purpose and do not allow to acquire the necessary experience and manual skills for their practice or their use. If you have been prescribed medical care I urge you not to interrupt or modify them, because all the suggestions you find on  must always and in any case be compared with the opinion of your doctor.

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