Joyous Health Recipes Food
Joyous Health Wellbeing Well-Being
Joyous Health Beauty Beauty
Joyous Health Family Family
Previous Episodes 

8 Health Benefits of Garlic

Garlic is loaded with health benefits from supporting the immune system, to improving cholesterol and blood pressure levels as well as being a powerful anti-inflammatory food too!
Mar 4, 2024 | Joy McCarthy

I’ve written about the healing benefits of pantry staples like turmeric, cinnamon maca, and ginger, and today I want to turn my attention to one of my all-time favourite ingredients: garlic!

This flavourful bulb isn’t just for adding depth to recipes, like this Lemon Garlic Roast Chicken, it’s also loaded with incredible health benefits. If you’re not already adding garlic to everything, then this post might just convince you to do so! I’m going to cover everything you need to know about garlic including what it is, it’s many health benefits, and some delicious recipes to help you incorporate this superfood into your diet!

What is Garlic?

While you likely know what garlic is, a tasty little clove packed with flavour, I wanted to share a bit more about it to help you understand why this humble (and affordable!) pantry staple is such a superfood. Personally, I can’t get enough of garlic’s complex flavour profile and it’s a great way to add depth to almost any savoury recipe. It’s extra stinky (and extra good for you) when eaten raw, but when you cook it, it becomes this amazing mix of pungent and sweet.


Garlic is part of the lily, or Allium, family, which makes it a close relative of other delicious veggies like onions, leeks, shallots, and chives. Its official name is allium sativum. It grows in bulbs and each bulb contains a number of cloves, which are the little buds that you peel and chop to add to dishes. It’s one ancient veggie, and has been cultivated for at least 5000 years. There were even bulbs of garlic found in King Tut’s tomb!

But tasty as it is, garlic’s first use wasn’t as a food, but as a healing herb.

Garlic was a staple in ancient Sumerian, Egyptian, Chinese and Indian medicine cabinets.

The health benefits of garlic are associated with the sulfur compounds that are released and activated when a clove is crushed or chopped. They are responsible for the stinkiness and health benefits of garlic! Three of these compounds are allicin (released shortly after chopping fresh garlic), s-allyl cysteine, and diallyl disulfide. When we consume garlic, our bodies absorb these compounds, which play a role in its many health benefits that I’ll outline below.

Top 8 Health Benefits of Garlic

Now that we understand the important role of sulfur compounds in garlic, let's take a closer look at how they can support our whole body health, while tasting super delicious!

1. Supports the immune system

One of garlic’s most well-known health benefits is its positive effect on the immune system. Specifically, garlic can help prevent viruses from entering into and replicating in your cells, which can help prevent viral illnesses. Another study done on aged garlic extract found that people who took this extract for 3 months during the peak of cold and flu season had fewer missed days of work and less severe symptoms than controls.

Try making this delicious immune-supporting Wild Mushroom Soup loaded with garlic and other healing foods.

Mushroom soup

2. Powerful anti-inflammatory

I’ve written about my top 10 anti-inflammatory foods here and the best foods to prevent inflammaging here , and it’s likely no surprise that garlic makes both of those lists! Those sulfur compounds that I mentioned above are highly anti-inflammatory which have been shown to inhibit pro-inflammatory messengers. Overall, it works by inhibiting the activity of inflammatory messenger molecules. Think of it as ibuprofen you can grow in your garden, as it works using a very similar mechanism, without any of the potentially harmful side-effects.

bowl of creamy basil pesto pasta

This Creamy Pesto Pasta is packed with anti-inflammatory foods, including fresh garlic!

3. Can improve cholesterol levels

While there is more to the cholesterol story than is often discussed when it comes to heart health, one thing that everyone can agree on is the importance of a proper ratio of HDL to LDL molecules for optimal health. These two studies found that supplementing with garlic extract can help to lower cholesterol levels by as much as 10%!

4. Can help reduce blood pressure.

Supplementing with garlic has been shown to help lower blood pressure, while also reducing arterial stiffness and supporting a lush gut microbiome. The researchers found that incorporating garlic supplements reduced the risk of a cardiovascular event, like a heart attack or stroke, by as much as 16%-40%! That’s a big difference worth noting. Of special interest is that they found garlic supplements worked similarly to blood pressure medications, once again without the negative side effects.

This study investigated the mechanism by which garlic might lower blood pressure and found that it may help relax blood vessels, while also decreasing the production of the hormone angiotensin II that increases blood pressure. If you experience high blood pressure, it’s definitely worth working with a natural health practitioner to figure out whether garlic supplements could be a good alternative.

Support your gut microbiome and heart health with this delicious Garlic & Herb Hummus Dressing!

Garlic Hummus Dressing

5. May help detoxify heavy metals

I’m always focused on ways to lower my daily toxin exposure and support gentle daily detoxification (this tea is my fave!) since we live in a world where we are increasingly coming into contact with heavy metals and other toxins. This study on employees who worked at a car battery plant found that eating garlic daily helped to reduce lead levels in their blood by up to 19%, while also reducing symptoms such as high blood pressure and headaches.

Support your detox pathways with these amazing Roasted Root Veggies , which includes liver-loving beets, garlic, and onions!

6. Supports brain health

The antioxidants and sulfur compounds found in garlic have been shown to help lower the oxidative stress which are often correlated with cognitive decline and the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. As we learn more about the impacts of inflammation on brain health and function, it’s so important to incorporate anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich foods into your diet every day.

7. May protect against certain cancers

There is promising test-tube research that shows allicin killing cancer cells and a review of seven studies found that people who ate a lot of raw and/or cooked garlic had a 30% decreased risk of developing colon cancer. Other population studies found a lower risk of developing esophageal, stomach, and colon cancers in those who ate lots of garlic. Interestingly, the same benefits were not found in people who took garlic supplements, which seems to indicate that there is something special about consuming the whole food, which you know I’m always a fan of!

Slurp up a bowl (or three!) of this delicious Veggie Quinoa soup with many cancer-preventative ingredients, including garlic.

8. Powerful antibacterial properties

Finally, garlic has long been used as “nature’s antibiotic” thanks to its powerful antibacterial properties. Research has shown that the chemical components in garlic are capable of taking out everything from Candida albicans (the fungus that causes yeast infections) to H. pylori bacteria (which cause stomach ulcers). Combine chopped garlic with raw, enzyme-rich honey for a super potent natural antibacterial.

I hope this post has inspired you to start incorporating more garlic into your daily recipes. It makes a great addition to virtually any savoury dish and can help you feel joyously healthy.

Xo Joy

Post Comment

Welcome to thoughtful, organic beauty

Hello Joyous is an organic, plant-based, sustainable beauty brand here to bring more joy to your day.