Basket of garlic

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Garlic is one of the world’s oldest crops. Historical evidence suggests that it has been used medicinally and as a food source for over 7,000 years. In ancient times, it was one of the most valued plants. Today, the plant is very commonly used to spice up tons of dishes like pasta, soups, and breads. Studies have also shown that garlic supplements may help reduce blood cholesterol and hypertension.

Related to onions and leeks, garlic is a pungent vegetable part of the Allium family. Hippocrates, who is considered the founder of modern medicine, is said to have prescribed garlic for several illnesses, such as pulmonary problems, sores, and abdominal growths. It has reached several parts of the world throughout history, including Ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece, India, China, and even up north in the territories of the Vikings.

While modern medicine may be a little more refined today, there are still plenty of reasons to prescribe yourself some garlic with your meals. Here are five really good ones:

1. Antioxidant powerhouse

Allicin is one of the main active components in garlic. It has been shown to reduce inflammation, fighting against harmful free radicals that can hurt the cells and tissues within the body. It is derived from the amino acid alliin, which is found in fresh garlic. Chopping garlic activates an enzyme called alliinase, which allows alliin to convert to allicin.

Knife with Chopped Garlic on Cutting Board
Photo by RDNE Stock project from Pexels

2. Antifungal properties

Using garlic as an antifungal is a folk remedy, but that doesn’t mean current research doesn’t support it. Allicin has been shown to have these properties. Most commonly, studies show that garlic fights Candida albicans, the fungus that most commonly causes yeast infections in women. So far, research has shown that it can not only stop its growth but also its spread.

3. PACKED full of nutrients

Garlic is small but mighty. A single clove might not pack that much, but who eats just one clove anyway? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a head of garlic contains fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and even some vitamin C.

4. It may help support detoxing

Studies have shown that garlic can positively impact liver function by reducing liver enzymes. High liver enzymes, such as alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate transaminase (AST), and alkaline phosphatase (ALP), generally indicate liver damage or inflammation. When the liver is impaired, it will usually show up in these blood tests. When the liver is functioning optimally, your body is able to remove excess waste products at peak performance.

5. Garlic may protect against food poisoning

E. coli is one of the most common food poisoning-causing bacteria. It’s most commonly found in raw milk, raw or undercooked ground meats, raw cheeses, and contaminated vegetables. Garlic has been shown to inhibit E. coli, thanks to its strong antibacterial properties. Other studies have found similar results with Salmonella, a bacteria commonly found in chicken, beef, pork, eggs, and fruits and veggies.

E. coli test
(© Victor Moussa –

Bottom Line

Some people love the taste of garlic, others need to get as far away from it as possible the moment they smell it. However, there’s a reason that garlic has stayed in people’s kitchens for thousands and thousands of years. It not only adds a unique flavor to foods, but studies continue to show that its health benefits aren’t just old wives’ tales.

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About Shyla Cadogan, RD

Shyla Cadogan is a DMV-Based acute care Registered Dietitian. She holds specialized interests in integrative nutrition and communicating nutrition concepts in a nuanced, approachable way.

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  1. Joseph Francis.jr says:

    I have been eating garlic for years and put it in every thing I eat. In my salads I love to eat it raw some people don’t see how i do it. It is my Medication!

  2. Joseph Francis.jr says: