Garlic Health Benefits and Side Effects
By Christopher Karam
What Is Garlic?
Garlic (Allium sativum) is a vegetable that’s part of the onion family (Alliaceae). Garlic is an underground grown crop widely used to prepare many foods due to its savory and spicy flavor.
It’s one of the core Mediterranean cooking ingredients which is frequently used in Asian, European, Middle Eastern, and African regions and cuisines.
Garlic is part of the group of allium vegetables, which includes shallots, leeks, chives, scallions, and onions.
Allium vegetables are rich in flavonols and organosulfur compounds, which have the added benefit of reducing your risk of cancer. Garlic is full of nutritional value due to its macronutrients, micronutrients, and bioactive nutrients.
Garlic has a bad smell that comes from its sulfuric compounds, when metabolized it produces a sulphide and that gets released through our lungs and skin, releasing the bad smell.
Fresh garlic cloves are a staple household kitchen ingredient, a health and dieting superfood, as well as having powerful medicinal and immune-boosting properties that help fight against a variety of health disorders.
The Benefits of Garlic
- Garlic Is A Natural Antibiotic
Garlic has a broad-spectrum of antibacterial properties. Similar to coconut oil, it's mostly effective against micro-organisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
Allicin is a plant-based compound found in garlic that reacts with the enzymatic functions of most viruses and infections, suppressing their growth and helps fight off the infection.
The strong antimicrobial property of garlic is also great for fighting stomach infections, and most effective against stomach bacteria such as Helicobacter Pylori as well as the prevention of stomach ulcers.
- Improves Heart Health
Garlic lowers bad LDL cholesterol by limiting the production of bad cholesterol in the liver, having no effect on good cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Raw garlic also has strong blood-thinning benefits, preventing blood from clotting inside veins, arteries, and blood vessels, reducing blood pressure levels.
- Garlic Helps Lower Your Risk of Cancer
Multiple research papers and clinical trials were conducted on garlic, to determine its anticarcinogenic health benefits.
Garlic has shown to be highly effective at preventing cancers including gastric, colorectal, and liver cancer.
Both in vivo and in vitro (in human and in glass) studies found that active chemicals found in garlic target the reproductive cell cycle in cancerous cells. This induces cell death while also helping repair damaged blood vessels.
The Side Effects of Garlic
As garlic is full of potent plant compounds, you shouldn’t consume more than 2 cloves per day. Because of its large list of potential side effects, excessive intake can cause additional issues.
Like most other herbs, this can produce some lighter, common side effects such as:
- Burning sensation in mouth, throat or stomach
- A major increase in body heat, causing sweating
- Light-headedness and many others.
However, if you go overboard and begin to consume 4 to 5 cloves daily you can start experiencing severe side effects such as:
- Over sensitive skin and bruising
- Ease of bleeding (for example, gums or nosebleeds)
- Bad breath and/or body odors
- Heart, mouth, or throat burn
- Nausea, vomiting, excess gas, diarrhea
- Low blood pressure heart attacks
- Brain damage
- Heart damage
The side effects of garlic are based on your daily dosage of garlic, you should not have more than 10 grams of garlic per day (2 cloves).
The nutrients found in fresh garlic are deactivated with aged, heated, and bruised, becoming less effective as well as providing lesser health benefits over time.
Although the garlic is full of healthy compounds, fiber, and protein, it should be avoided by people undergoing serious surgeries or diseases because allicin is a strong blood thinner. Always check with your medical professional before making substantial changes to your diet
About the author:
Christopher Karam is a certified nutritionist, dietitian, and personal trainer at MyDietGoal. Our team of M.D.s and researchers deliver thoroughly researched articles on common health, dieting, and wellness-related topics.