Garlic Benefits, Uses & History

We might all use garlic to season and flavor our food but it actually has some amazing health benefits. That’s not to say that a huge plate of garlic bread is equal to a salad, but adding garlic to your diet is doing more good than you might think. 

Garlic is one of the most common ingredients in so many different dishes from different cultures. It is even used in herbal medicines and some people take garlic supplements to get the most concentrated benefits out of the garlic. 

Health Benefits

Few people eat garlic because of its health benefits as it is just so delicious. But there are so many different benefits to eating garlic. Here are just some of the reasons why you need to keep adding garlic to your diet.


Garlic has been shown to have detoxifying abilities. Specifically, heavy metals. This is thought to be due to the sulfur compounds present in garlic. This is incredibly impressive and one particular study showed that garlic could reduce the levels of lead in the blood by 19%. 

The study involved employees who worked in a car battery plant and so had excessive exposure to lead. This means that people who are not exposed to such environments do not need to increase their garlic intake for fear of toxic heavy metals. But it can be helpful for people who are regularly exposed to it. In fact, taking three doses a day had a better effect than the D-penicillamine drug used to reduce symptoms of toxicity.

Improve Athletic Performance

Olympians in ancient Greece used to regularly consume garlic in order to improve their athletic performance. This might seem pretty tame compared to the performance-enhancing substances used today (especially those which are banned from the modern-day Olympics).  

Garlic can help to reduce fatigue and was also used by laborers in other ancient cultures to help increase their energy levels. This is another reason why some people take garlic supplements. These supplements are primarily intended to help bolster the immune system but they can also improve energy levels. 

Not much research has been done into the effects of garlic on athletic performance in humans, so there cannot be any big conclusive claims about its effects. But one study that looked specifically at the effects of garlic oil on people with heart disease showed some promising evidence. The study showed that the participants who took garlic oil for six weeks had a 12% reduction in their heart rate when exercising and also reduced the work load of the heart which resulted in better exercise tolerance. This means that they had a greater capacity for exercise. 

Improve Bone Health

This is only a potential health benefit of garlic as studies have only currently been conducted on female rodents. But, the studies did show that regularly taking garlic helped to increase estrogen in the female rodents which in turn helped to reduce bone loss. 

Due to the fact that garlic could increase estrogen levels, a study was conducted on menopausal women and found that they also experience a reduction in estrogen deficiency. This could mean that it can also help to reduce bone loss in women, but there has not yet been enough research conducted. 

As there are no negative side effects to eating garlic, this does mean that regularly consuming garlic, specifically dry garlic, should help people who experience estrogen deficiency and potentially even help reduce bone loss due to this. 

Improves Cholesterol Levels

This is another way in which garlic can help those at risk of developing heart disease. Multiple studies have shown that taking garlic supplements can help to reduce both total and LDL cholesterol.

LDL is cholesterol that can have a negative impact on the heart whereas HDL is the type of cholesterol that does not. Garlic has been shown to reduce levels of LDL but not HDL. The level of reduction was between 10% to 15% which is significant. This is incredibly positive for reducing the risk of heart disease as it can help reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol whilst leaving “good” cholesterol alone.

Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is another problem that can cause problems with your heart. It can cause heart attacks and strokes and is one of the most common causes of death in the world. Studies have been pretty conclusive in showing that garlic can reduce high blood pressure. Garlic has even been shown to be equally as effective as Atenolol which is a drug that reduces blood pressure. 

Simply adding garlic to a pasta sauce every now and then won’t be quite enough. Instead, garlic supplements of 600mg to 1,500mg need to be consumed over a long period of time. 

Potentially Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

This is primarily due to the antioxidants present in garlic. This means that garlic can encourage the mechanisms which protect the body against oxidative damage. This means that it can help to protect against cell damage which is a cause of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. So, while it might not be able to cure or prevent these diseases completely, it might be able to reduce the risks. 

In high doses, garlic has also been shown to increase antioxidant enzymes in the body which can reduce oxidative stress, specifically in people with high blood pressure.

Strengthens Your Immune System

This is one of the main reasons why you should add garlic to your diet. Eating garlic can help reduce the risk of developing a cold or the flu. Garlic can also help reduce the symptoms of cold and flu by up to 70%. 

Aged garlic has been found to be the best at reducing the symptoms of colds and flu. So, the next time you feel under the weather and a little blocked up, try having some garlic. That said, it’s important to have a high concentration when ill. Throwing a bulb into a pasta dish will be good but not enough. Try having some garlic supplements or something with a high concentration of pure garlic. Fresh garlic is also better, rather than dried or pickled. 

Can garlic help you to live longer?

This might sound like a bold claim but it isn’t all that extreme. Due to the way that garlic can reduce blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and potentially reduce the risks of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s, including garlic in your diet might help you to live longer.

Garlic can also help to bolster your immune system which can help to reduce the risk of developing a cold or the flu and can help to reduce their symptoms. This is the most common way in which garlic helps the immune system, but it can also help to fight other infections.

While adding fresh or dried garlic to your diet is definitely a healthy option, it’s important to remember that a lot of these health benefits require quite high concentrations of garlic. So, if you struggle with any of the problems listed above, garlic supplements might be the easiest and most direct way to up your garlic intake.


You very likely know that garlic is used in a lot of different foods in lots of cultures. Garlic is very easy to cook with as it only needs to be peeled and then chopped up. It can be eaten raw but it has an overwhelming taste when raw and so can be overpowering and almost bitter. For this reason, most people cook with it.

Garlic can be chopped up and added to pasta sauces and curries. Or whole cloves can be roasted or smoked alongside vegetables, primarily root vegetables. It’s important to remember that garlic can lose some of its potency when cooked.

Heating garlic changes its pH level which can alter some of its health benefits. But only slightly, just make sure not to heat it above 140F. This should be relatively easy but if you are concerned, taking garlic supplements could be beneficial. 

Usage History

Garlic has been used for millennia. It has been used for at least 4,000 years in Mesopotamia, China, and Egypt. Garlic was even found in Tutankhamun’s tomb and it was incredibly well-preserved. 

Although it is now a very common ingredient, garlic was not traditionally used in English cuisine. It is unfathomable for most English people do not regularly use garlic in their cooking but this is a relatively new addition. Especially in comparison to the thousands of years of usage in other cultures.

Garlic has also been used in folk medicine for centuries. Garlic is another item that has been used for an incredibly long time before its benefits were fully established through scientific research. Garlic has an amazing number of benefits, as shown above, yet it is such a common part of people’s diets purely for the flavor. This is a fascinating development and few people are aware of the benefits of garlic today. 

Although we mostly use the bulb to add flavor to dishes, the entire plant is actually edible. Garlic can also be eaten when immature and not fully grown or when it has been aged until completely black. Black garlic has a very specific flavor and texture.

The cloves are completely black and do have a traditional garlic flavor, but they also have a very sweet flavor. The cloves are sticky and soft so are very different in consistency from ripe garlic. Garlic is an amazing food that is very versatile. 

Plant Origins

Garlic is part of the onion family and is closely related to shallots, chives, and other types of onions. This is a little surprising considering how different it tastes and looks compared to most other types of onion. However, there are similarities to others in the onion family. It has a thin papery outer skin and multiple layers inside. 

Garlic can be cultivated in many different areas and thrives in mild climates. This is one of the reasons for its popularity as it can be so easily grown. It does not need much special care and you can easily grow it from a single clove. 

Difference Between Wild Garlic and Bulb Garlic

During springtime, wild garlic grows in a wide number of places, especially in parks and woodlands across Europe. It has an identical taste to bulb garlic but is a completely different plant. Wild garlic is a leaf rather than a bulb but can be used in a similar way to bulb garlic. 

Wild garlic can be made into pesto, added to pasta dishes, or tossed into a salad. It is incredibly versatile and has a very strong flavor. But this flavor is only as potent when raw. When chopped up, cooked, or added into a dish wild garlic does lose some of its flavor. This is similar to bulb garlic but they lose their flavor in different ways. 

Wild garlic has very similar health properties to bulb garlic so it is another great addition to your diet. Wild garlic is very easy to find and can be easily foraged. This is a very affordable and eco-friendly way to add garlic to your diet. 


Garlic, whether bulb or wild, is an incredibly healthy addition to your diet. Most of us add garlic to food purely for the flavor but it can do so much more. Garlic is an amazing health food, a great source of antioxidants, and an amazing way to bolster your immune system.

Adding a clove or two of garlic to your dinner every night is a great idea. It tastes amazing and will give you a huge number of health benefits. If you struggle to add more garlic to your diet, or somehow just don’t enjoy the flavor, you can also take garlic supplements. 

Garlic supplements provide a concentrated addition to your diet and might even be able to help you live longer. Garlic is one of the easiest ways to improve your diet and make a great change to your health and wellbeing.