Too much garlic may give you bad breath, but its myriad of health benefits far outweigh those smelly side effects — not to mention the possible vampire protection you’ll have. But vampire jokes aside, research has found garlic to be effective in preventing and treating high blood pressure, reducing risks of dementia and heart attack, and successfully killing tumors and cancer cells. But another positive health benefit to garlic is that it may help you reach your weight loss goals too.
Can Garlic Help You Lose Weight?
Grown in abundance, inexpensive to buy, and easy to find in grocery stores (usually in the same aisle as potatoes and onions) it’s not difficult to add more of the bulb to your healthy diet. My mother-in-law talks about a time in England when garlic was seen as an exotic food from the east, and thus difficult to find everywhere. But lucky for you and me, garlic is now readily available via Amazon too.
I’m sure by this point you are asking, “That’s great that it’s so easy to find and fit into my diet, but get to the point Sunny… How does garlic ACTUALLY help you lose weight?”
Well, Garlic won’t help you drop 10 lbs overnight, but it does provide you with health benefits that aid with the steps you are already taking to lose weight (hello healthy diet and exercise!)
In fact, here are 5 different ways in which garlic can aid in losing those extra pounds and even help you maintain a healthy body weight.
1. Garlic is an appetite suppressant
Put simply, you feel less hungry after eating garlic. Studies have shown that garlic increases the brain’s sensitivity to leptin, a hormone which regulates appetite. The lower your leptin levels, the less hungry you feel.
In addition to curbing appetite, garlic also stimulates satiety—keeping your stomach full for a long period of time to prevent over-eating. This happens due to something called allicin. When garlic is chopped or crushed, it produces a reaction that turns its active compound alliin into allicin. Allicin has been found to be responsible for the many health benefits attributed to garlic. Findings by a 2003 study published by the American Journal of Hypertension showed that allicin stimulated the satiety center in rats’ brains which reduced feelings of hunger.
2. Garlic inhibits weight gain
Allicin is once again the winner here as it inhibits weight gain. That same 2003 study published in the American Journal of hypertension concluded that the inhibition of weight gain could be added to the list of beneficial properties of allicin (another reason to crush that garlic clove before eating.)
3. Garlic increases the metabolism rate of the body
Your body also releases another hormone, called norepinephrine. This hormone, along with another hormone called epinephrine are catecholamines (hormones made by the adrenal glands) that stimulate the central nervous system and raise your metabolic rate. Catecholamine release is very closely related to exercise intensity as the hormones also initiate fat burning in both your active muscles and your fat tissue — garlic has been shown to increase the release of norepinephrine.
A 2011 study published in The Journal of Nutrition found garlic to have anti-obesity effects through increased fat-burning. While another study found that aged garlic extract may lead to weight loss in postmenopausal women.
4. Garlic adds flavor, helping you better stick to a healthy diet
Healthy food needs to taste good for you to want to continue eating it, and garlic does just that. The bulbous vegetable packs a tasty punch, as it is full of flavor that pleases even the pickiest of taste buds. Also, garlic is low in calories (there are 4 calories in one clove of garlic, and you usually only need one clove to flavor about 2 cups of veggies) and has nutrients and properties you wouldn’t get were you to only use fat, sugar, sodium, soy or hot sauce alone to flavor your foods.
5. Garlic helps strengthen the immune system: less cold and flu symptoms mean more time spent being active.
Garlic is anti-inflammatory and a proven immune booster. Full of nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants, the compounds in garlic have been shown to boost the white blood cells in the body to better fight viruses that they encounter.
How to Get More Health Benefits out of a Clove of Garlic
For more of that health promoting compound called allicin, fresh garlic must be cut or crushed and left to sit for about 5-10 minutes at room temperature. When you cook raw garlic some of the compounds are destroyed. Crushing garlic and letting it sit allows for all of the chemical reactions to take place to release more of that much needed allicin. In fact, studies show that crushing garlic and letting it sit retains about 70% more allicin compared to when cooked immediately after cutting up the garlic.
I personally try to use garlic in at least one dish per day, and once I have peeled it, I crush it super fine so that it disperses in my meal, as I don’t like a strong taste of garlic in just one bite. I use one of my favorite cooking utensils, the “Joseph Joseph” stainless steel garlic crushing rocker to get a good mince to my garlic—it’s super easy to clean and doesn’t hold any of that stinky garlicky odor. Friends and family who come over for dinner always ask me about it when they see it in use, so I thought I would share it with you here. (Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post, though purchasing from one of my amazon affiliate links means that I will earn a small commission).
Needless to say, garlic is a staple at my house. The health benefits have long been proven, and I like knowing that it revs up my metabolism, while both suppressing and satiating my hunger. I also have some anecdotal evidence as an extra incentive for you to eat more garlic, so if all of the scientific evidence I’ve provided here doesn’t sway you, perhaps this story will:
My favorite yoga teacher, Dee, told me that her Turkish grandmother lived to be 102 years old, and that she had been well known for eating a couple of raw garlic cloves everyday… and that her grandmother’s pockets were always full of garlic cloves!
Now before you start eating raw garlic the way Dee’s grandmother did, check with your doctor to make sure you are not on any blood thinners or medication as garlic is a natural anticoagulant and may increase the risk of bleeding. So eat responsibly!
To positively strong garlic eating habits,