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Eating Raw Garlic: 9 Health Benefits That Will Surprise You

Eating Raw Garlic: 9 Health Benefits That Will Surprise You

9 Surprising Benefits of Eating Raw Garlic

One of the spices that must be available in the kitchen of every Filipino home is garlic. A lot of our dishes, especially adobo, is not complete without the addition of garlic. But in addition to making food delicious, garlic is also effective in maintaining your health! This is especially true when you eat it raw. Are you curious about the benefits of eating raw garlic?

What Is the Nutritional Content of Garlic?

eating raw garlic

Garlic is a tuber with the Latin name Allium sativum. Garlic is still included in the amaryllis plant family (Amaryllidaceae), and is related to scallions and shallots. It is native to Central Asia, but also grows in Italy and southern France and other countries.

In one garlic there are usually 1-10 cloves. Each clove itself weighs about 6-8 grams. So, per 100 grams of garlic contains approximately:

  • 4 calories
  • 1 gram carbohydrate
  • 0.2 grams of protein
  • 0.1 grams of fiber
  • 0.1 milligrams of manganese (equivalent to 3% of the body’s daily requirement)
  • 0.9 milligrams of vitamin C (equivalent to 2% of the body’s daily requirement)
  • 5.4 milligrams of calcium (equivalent to 1% of the body’s daily requirement)
  • 0.4 micrograms of selenium (equivalent to 1 percent% of the body’s daily requirement)
  • a line of antioxidants such as flavonoids, oligosaccharides, and amino acids

Garlic also contains active sulfur compounds such as alliin, allyl propyl disulfide, diallyl disulfide, and diallyl trisulfide. When raw garlic is chewed in the mouth, the sulfur substances will react to form allicin.

Health Benefits of Garlic

1. Lower Cholesterol

Garlic has long been considered one of the best foods to prevent high cholesterol. A previous study published in the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine reported eating about 10 grams of raw garlic (1-2 small cloves) per day managed to lower cholesterol quite drastically in two months.

This finding is also corroborated by a variety of more recent studies. One of them is a study published in the International Journal of Medical Science and Public Health in 2016. A research team from India initially asked 50 people who had high cholesterol to regularly eat 3 grams of raw garlic once a day. After 90 days of the trial period, all of the participants experienced a significant decrease in cholesterol, which was about 10-13 percent.

Researchers found this benefit comes from the allicin content in garlic. Uniquely, allicin will only be produced by garlic when the cloves are cut, ground, or crushed by chewing. Allicin inhibits an enzyme that plays a role in making cholesterol.

2. Lower Blood Pressure

If you are at risk or have been diagnosed with hypertension, maintaining a healthy diet is one of the keys to staying healthy. Now of the many healthy foods that exist, garlic can be your mainstay.

Yes! The potential benefits of garlic for lowering blood pressure have long been recognized as comparable to generic hypertension drugs. A study from the Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences reported that the effect of lowering systolic and diastolic blood pressure after eating raw garlic was almost the same as the drug atenolol .

Again, this benefit comes from the allicin content that can only be obtained when raw garlic cloves are chewed, mashed, or chopped. This method makes allicin more easily absorbed and used by the body.

In addition, garlic also contains polysulfide which works to widen blood vessels thereby lowering blood pressure.

3. Heart Health

Eating raw garlic is also potentially good for preventing the risk of heart disease. Garlic has been known as an adjunct treatment in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, which in turn reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.

Uniquely, the most consistent benefits are shown by extracts from dried garlic (aged garlic). Summing up a number of studies, aged garlic extract reduces the buildup of soft plaque and prevents the formation of new plaque in the arteries.

Research from the Journal of Nutrition using aged garlic also showed the effect of lowering calcium levels and C-reactive protein in coronary arteries. Calcium deposits in the coronary arteries are a sign of plaque buildup that can narrow or clog arteries. While C-reactive protein is a special protein that triggers inflammation.

The two conditions above then trigger atherosclerosis. When atherosclerosis occurs, you are more susceptible to a heart attack or stroke.

4. Reduced Cancer Risk

The beneficial benefits of eating raw garlic have been known for centuries.

Launching from the National Center for Biotechnology Information , research evidence so far shows a link between regular garlic consumption and a reduced risk of several types of cancer. These include stomach cancer (stomach, colon, and small intestine), esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.

Raw garlic is rich in active sulfur content which prevents the formation of cancer cells and inhibits their spread in the body.

5. Brain Health

eating raw garlic

It turns out that eating garlic is not only beneficial for heart health, but also the brain.

A team of researchers from the University of Missouri found that a carbohydrate derivative in garlic known as FruArg, protects brain cells against the effects of aging and disease. FruArg is reported to reduce nitric oxide levels produced by microglial cells in the brain during the fight against inflammation and oxidative stress.

On the one hand, the role of microglia cells is very useful for maintaining a healthy nervous system. However, the longer the microglia cells fight inflammation, the more they produce nitric oxide. Excess nitric oxide levels have long been linked to brain cell damage.

Well luckily, the FruArg compound in garlic can multiply microglia cells without triggering an increase in nitric oxide levels in the brain. This means that garlic offers protective benefits for brain cells by making them more immune to the risk of neurological diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

6. Acne Prevention

Don’t give up if you have tried a thousand and one ways to get rid of acne but nothing works. Garlic stock in the kitchen might be the solution.

Various studies have shown that allicin has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiseptic properties that help kill acne-causing germs. These various properties help to reduce swelling and inflammation of the skin, as well as increase blood circulation to lighten the skin tone.

Garlic also contains other vitamins and minerals that are believed to eradicate acne. Starting from vitamin C, vitamin B-6, selenium, copper, and zinc which are useful for controlling excess oil production .

7. Strengthens Bones

Did you know that apart from calcium and vitamin D, flavonoids are included in the nutritional components with the most potential to improve bone health?

Summarizing the findings of a study in the Journal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics, flavonoids have the potential to increase bone formation while slowing down the process of bone mineral loss. Now from the onion family, garlic and leeks were found to be the most effective in inhibiting the process of bone fragility.

A study in lab rats also found garlic to be useful in preventing bone loss after surgical removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy).

8. Fights Inflammation, Colds, and Coughs

Garlic is one of the natural remedies to strengthen the immune system. The active compound allicin found in garlic is proven to be effective in killing various germs that cause common diseases, such as colds and flu, coughs, and sore throats.

If you are sick, eating garlic can reduce the severity of your symptoms and help you recover faster. Various studies also report that regularly eating raw garlic reduces the risk of falling ill from contracting the common diseases above.

9. Overcoming Hair Loss

Who would have thought that the benefits of eating raw garlic could overcome the problem of hair loss?

In alopecia or baldness which is caused by an autoimmune disease, raw garlic can strengthen and encourage hair growth on the scalp. Some people even apply garlic oil on the head to prevent baldness.

The Benefits of Garlic Are Better If Eaten Raw

You can reap all the benefits of garlic as easy as chewing the cloves raw. Because it is in the freshest condition, the nutrients in garlic can work optimally.

Maybe this way of eating garlic is not unusual for you, but processing garlic by cooking them will actually eliminate various important nutrients.

But if you don’t want to keep eating raw, it’s okay to add garlic to your daily diet.

How Much Raw Garlic Can You Eat in a Day?

If you are considered to be in good health and do not have serious health problems, the University of Maryland Medical Center allows you to eat 1-4 cloves of raw garlic daily.

Eating more than one clove of garlic per day may worsen the condition of people with severe indigestion. In addition, people who have allergies, low blood pressure, asthma, ulcers, or thyroid problems are also advised to first consult a doctor before eating garlic.

The same is true if you are currently taking the following drugs:

  • Isoniazid (Nydrazid)
  • Family planning pills
  • Cyclosporine
  • Medicine for HIV/AIDS
  • NSAID pain medication
  • Blood thinning medication (Warfarin)

If you are taking any of these medicines, limit the amount of garlic you consume to avoid adverse interactions. You should first ask your doctor whether it is safe to eat garlic while using medical drugs.

Tips To Get Rid of Bad Breath After Eating Garlic

Although potentially good for health, eating too much garlic is also not good. This kitchen spice can cause hot mouth, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, to bad breath and body odor if consumed too much.

To avoid bad breath from eating raw garlic, try these tips first.

  • Wash raw garlic cloves with cold running water
  • Consumption of raw garlic with celery or basil leaves so that the garlic aroma is not too sharp
  • Drink a glass of low-fat milk or eat plain yogurt after eating raw garlic
  • Brush your teeth and gargle with mouthwash until clean after eating raw garlic

How To Store Garlic

1. Store in the Refrigerator

Storing the garlic out in the open will keep it moist and eventually new shoots will appear. It’s best to store the peeled and washed garlic in an airtight container. Put it in the refrigerator or freezer.

If the garlic has sprouted, it’s a good idea to plant the garlic in a small pot filled with soil, and let it grow.

2. Puree Before Storage

You can grind a few cloves of garlic in a blender or food processor and store them in an airtight container. Then, store it in the refrigerator. Minced garlic can save you cooking time later.

Besides being more practical, mashed garlic is also more durable than whole garlic stored at room temperature.

3. Soak in Olive Oil

The next way is to soak the garlic in olive oil. First, peel the garlic and wash it, then store it in a container. Pour in olive oil and submerge the garlic in it. Close tightly and put the container in the refrigerator.

Since the garlic absorbs the olive oil, it can enrich the flavor of your cooking. In addition, the soaking oil that now leaves an garlic flavor can be used as a dressing or salad dressing.

Remember, store garlic and olive oil in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. Garlic stored this way can usually last about 3 weeks. When it’s been more than 3 weeks, throw it away and replace it with fresh garlic and new olive oil.

Learn more about Healthy Eating here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

1 Health benefits of garlic, https://www.consumerreports.org/diet-nutrition/the-health-benefits-of-garlic/, Accessed November 2016.

2 Prevention of bone loss by oil extract of garlic (Allium sativum Linn.) in an ovariectomized rat model of osteoporosis, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15173999, Accessed November 2016.

3 Garlic Found to Protect Brain Against Disease, Aging, https://medicine.missouri.edu/news/garlic-found-protect-brain-against-disease-aging, Accessed November 2016

4 Flavonoid Intake and Bone Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3898177/, Accessed November 2016

5 Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4417560/, Accessed November 2016

6 Garlic and Heart Disease, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26764327, Accessed March 2019

7 Role of Garlic Usage in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: An Evidence-Based Approach, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3652202/, Accessed November 2016

8 Cholesterol lowering property of garlic (Allium sativum) on patients with hypercholesterolemia, https://www.ejmanager.com/mnstemps/67/67-1459944769.pdf, Accessed November 2016

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Written by Hello Sehat Updated Apr 18
Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen