Garlic for Weight Loss and 10 Other Health Benefits

As early as ancient times, people have recognized how beneficial garlic is for our general health and well-being. Even Hippocrates used garlic when he treated people for a wide variety of health problems and conditions. [1]

Today, thanks to extensive research, we know that dietary factors play a vital role in the development of various human diseases. We also find that the regular consumption of garlic can provide humans with many health benefits as well as the potential to prevent and treat different conditions.

Garlic active ingredients:

Allicin is the main bioactive compound found in garlic. When garlic is chopped or crushed, the enzyme alliinase is activated and produces allicin from alliin (present in whole garlic). 

Other vital compounds present in garlic include:

  • methyl thiosulfinate
  • methyl allyl thiosulfinate
  • ajoene
  • deoxyalliin
  • diallyl disulfide
  • diallyl trisulfide.

Also, aged garlic extract, which is garlic stored in 15% alcohol for more than 1.5 years, has many health benefits. Although  there is  considerable loss of allicin, it was found to have increased activity of other active health-promoting antioxidant compounds, such as:

  • S-allyl cysteine
  • S-allyl mercapto cysteine
  • allixin
  • and selenium 

All of which remain intact in the aged garlic extract and have many health benefits, including reducing blood pressure, improving arterial stiffness, reducing inflammation, and other cardiovascular markers. Therefore aged garlic extract is an excellent antihypertensive and heart disease treatment. 

The Many Health Benefits of Garlic

1. Weight Loss

A study from 2016 showed that garlic can reduce body weight and body fat mass. 

Another more recent study (2018) showed that oral intake of garlic and onion oils for 60 days decreased amounts of overall fat tissue. It also reduced LDL, and triglyceride levels and increased the HDL levels. This study clearly shows that garlic and onion oils have anti-obesity properties. [2,3] 

Another study showed that alliin in garlic prevents the increase of pro-inflammatory genes and proteins. Since obesity is associated with low-grade chronic inflammation, the connection between garlic and weight loss is evident [4].

2. Anti-fatigue and Weight Loss

Another of the main benefits that even ancient civilizations have found is the fact that garlic can act as an anti-fatigue agent. [5] Due to this effect, garlic was used by Olympic athletes in Ancient Greece. As for today, studies show that garlic supplements improve athletic performance. [6]

Since garlic increases energy levels in the body, this enables your body to burn more calories. What’s more, garlic is also known to suppress appetite, causing you to eat less and therefore lose excess weight. This is because garlic is among the foods that are rich in many nutrients (Vitamins C and B6, manganese, selenium, fiber, and many more). Needless to say, garlic also has very few calories, which makes it an ideal food for weight loss. 

3. Common Cold

Traditionally, garlic was known to be good at fighting the common cold. One study from 2012 found that high doses of aged garlic extract reduced the number of sick days for people with the cold or the flu by 61%. [7]

4. Heart disease

Garlic is also beneficial in lowering the risk of heart disease. Garlic is known to improve cholesterol levels, specifically by lowering LDL (the ‘bad’) cholesterol and overall levels of cholesterol. [8] [9] Garlic also reduces the production of free radicals, which is a risk factor for heart disease, and garlic supplements have been shown to reduce blood pressure in patients with heart disease and hypertension. [10]

5. Anti-viral

Garlic has been shown to have antiviral activity, especially against herpes simplex virus type 1, herpes simplex virus type 2, parainfluenza virus type 3, vaccinia virus, vesicular stomatitis virus, and human rhinovirus type 2. 

A research study showed that the order for virucidal activity was firstly ajoene followed by allicin, then allyl methyl thiosulfinate and methyl allyl thiosulfinate. [11]

6. Dementia and Alzheimer’s

The several effects garlic have might also make it useful in reducing the risk of several brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. This is primarily due to the role of garlic as an antioxidant, fighting free radical damage. [12]

7. Bone Health

Garlic also has favorable effects on bone health in menopausal women, according to a recent study. [13]

8. Immunomodulation (the act of activating or suppressing the immune system)

Immunomodulation is a major field for new drugs, but its high cost, and frequently toxicity, and other adverse side effects render it undesirable for many patients. In contrast, the use of natural plants with immunomodulatory actions is a promising candidate for supporting the immune system. Several studies have been carried out in animal models examining the effect of different garlic components and formulations on immunomodulatory activities. [14] 

9. Anti-allergenic

Studies found that aged garlic extract possesses anti-allergic qualities significantly hindering histamine release.

10. Cancer

It has been proposed that allicin presents anti-tumor activity through its antiproliferative action. [15] These benefits have been shown in bladder cancer and ovarian cancer.

Also, garlic binds to estrogen receptors helping in the prevention of hormone-related cancers [16, 17].

Garlic’s allyl sulfur compounds are related with both their anti-inflammatory and their immunostimulatory properties, both supporting cancer prevention and healing.

The best way to consume garlic:

The best way to consume garlic is to add it after the cooking to your food so that the active ingredients will not be denatured by the heat. 

You can also grow your own garlic at home:

How to grow garlic:

Garlic is also very easy to grow and can be grown in mild climates.

Garlic grows up to 1.2 m in height. You can even grow garlic using bulbs from a grocery store, preferably use organic garlic.

Just plant the cloves in September-October in a sunny place in fertile, well-drained soil. Place the cloves root side down 10 cm (5”) apart in rows. Cover with about 2 cm (1”) of fine soil. The garlic will begin to grow by early spring.

The Bottom Line

With so many benefits garlic has to offer, there’s no reason to leave it out of your daily menu. If you find it hard to consume the garlic in its raw form due to the odor, then garlic extracts and supplements are an excellent alternative.

Thousands of years of practice and now modern scientific confirmations make a strong case for the massive benefits of garlic.

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Galit Goldfarb

References:

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  • [3] Yang C, Li L, Yang L, L? H, Wang S, Sun G. Anti-obesity and Hypolipidemic effects of garlic oil and onion oil in rats fed a high-fat diet. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2018;15:43. Published 2018 Jun 20. doi:10.1186/s12986-018-0275-x
  • [4] Quintero-Fabián S., Ortuño-Sahagún D., Vázquez-Carrera M., López-Roa R. I. Alliin, a garlic (Allium sativum) compound, prevents LPS-induced inflammation in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Mediators of Inflammation. 2013;2013:11. doi: 10.1155/2013/381815.381815
  • [5] Morihara N, Nishihama T, Ushijima M, Ide N, Takeda H, Hayama M. Garlic as an anti-fatigue agent. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Nov;51(11):1329-34. DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.200700062
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