Garlic Nutrition Facts

Garlic Nutrition Facts

Many people love garlic, and many people hate it, or at least have it in their mind that they hate it, but one thing about garlic is for certain. It deserves a place among the world’s healthiest foods, and for a multitude of reasons.

Garlic Contains Many Essential Vitamins and Minerals

Garlic is rich in many essential vitamins and minerals. For example, as the table below shows, garlic is an excellent source of manganese and a very good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C. It is also a good source of vitamin B1, calcium, phosphorus, copper, and selenium.  An ounce of garlic (3 medium cloves) provides you with the following amount of these vital nutrients.

            Manganese   0.5 mg            23.5% DV

            Vitamin B6    0.4 mg            17.5% DV

            Vitamin C      8.9 mg.           14.8% DV

            Selenium       4.0 mcg            5.8% DV

            Calcium         513 mg             5.1% DV

            Phosphorus  43.4 mg            4.3% DV

            Copper           0.1 mg              4.0% DV

            Vitamin B1    0.1 mg            1.7 % DV

            Protein           1.8 g               3.6% DV

The manganese in garlic is necessary for protein and carbohydrate metabolism and for activating the enzymes needed for utilization of the B complex vitamins. Manganese also serves as a powerful antioxidant, and in garlic, it is one of many. Garlic is loaded with antioxidant protection.

Vitamin C, another nutrient known for its strong antioxidant properties, is best known for the key role it plays in maintaining a strong, healthy immune system and particularly in fighting off nagging respiratory infections like cold and flu viruses. A less widely known but equally important benefit of vitamin C is helping to prevent cancer. Since garlic is also abundant in phytonutrients that do the same thing, possibly even better, it packs a potent level of protection few other foods can match.

Copper and selenium further contribute to the antioxidant value of garlic. Even though Selenium is a trace mineral, research studies show its importance in preventing such diverse conditions as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.  According to John Milner, Professor of Nutrition at Penn State, selenium appears to work synergistically with other nutrients in garlic, so they are all more effective. He, therefore, recommends eating garlic with other foods that are rich in selenium like fish and whole grains.

The B vitamins in garlic are important for energy production and normal nervous system functioning. Also, vitamin B6 helps maintain healthy skin and prevents the buildup of homocysteine, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Calcium and phosphorus are essential for bone health.

Garlic is surprisingly low in calories. An ounce of garlic (3 medium cloves) contains only 41 calories. Another surprise is that the same amount of garlic contains 1.8 grams of protein. Clearly, garlic is a fine to include if you are watching your weight and there is even room in a strict reducing diet for garlic. In fact, there is evidence from research studies that eating garlic can help you lose weight. Of course, since garlic is rarely eaten alone, the healthiness of the dish that includes the garlic must also be considered. If it includes other ingredients that are very rich, the garlicky food will be less healthy, high in fat and calories, and not a good choice for a weight reducing plan.

Other Important Health Promoting Nutrients – More Reasons to Eat Garlic

The primary nutritional benefit from garlic comes from other nutrients not yet mentioned. For example, garlic contains more than a dozen immunity-boosting phytates that help fight colds and other infections. The saponin in garlic helps lower cholesterol while coumaric acid fights cancer. We would need a lot more than this page to list all of the health-promoting phytonutrients in garlic; there are that many.

It is no secret that one of the distinguishing characteristics of garlic is the unmistakeable smell. The first sign of that smell is not when you buy it, but when you open it up at home and start peeling, chopping, and crushing it. The odor continues while the garlic is cooking, and shortly after you eat the garlicky food, the smell will probably be on you!

Garlic contains an amino acid called Alliin, which is an unstable sulfur-based compound that starts going to work when the garlic is chopped, sliced or crushed. That is when Alliin interacts with the enzyme Alliance to create Allicin, one of the best medicinal and health promoting compounds available. Allicin contributes to the activity of the other  antioxidants in garlic and assists the immune system in helping fight off viruses and harmful bacteria. If eaten in a crushed or pureed form, garlic can even be a good pre-biotic that helps improve digestion and mineral absorption. Interestingly, since many people believe that garlic is irritating to the stomach, ingesting garlic can help both prevent and relieve indigestion associated flatulence and diarrhea. Garlic has been shown to have the capability of killing off bad bacteria in the gut and replacing them with good bacteria.

Garlic also contains the sulfur compound sulfhydryl, which helps eliminate toxins such as the heavy metals lead and cadmium from the blood and lymphatic system. Another sulfur compound in garlic, diallyl disulfide (DAD), prevents unwanted clotting and facilitates smooth blood flow.

Allicin, diaallyl disulfide, and other sulfur-based compounds in garlic are a main reason eating a lot of garlic is good for your heart. Numerous studies indicate that garlic has a positive impact on helping to reduce LDL cholesterol, the bad cholesterol, and triglycerides, while raising HDL, the good cholesterol. Garlic may also be helpful in controlling blood pressure, at least according to some of the studies, although the findings are inconsistent. The major impact that garlic has on reducing heart disease risk appears to be its ability to prevent platelet clumping.

In addition to helping to prevent serious cardiovascular disease leading to atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes, garlic fights many other major illnesses often associated with aging, including arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. We recommend you read our comprehensive section on the Health Benefits of Garlic to learn more about the important role garlic plays in preventing and treating these and other serious medical conditions.

Scientists have identified over 200 compounds in garlic, of which about 20 have antibacterial properties. Many of the compounds also work as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.You can view these compounds on the USDA database by following the link under research and links on this website. You can have a natural pharmacy right in your kitchen by stocking up on garlic bulbs.

Garlic Supplements

There is no doubt that the extra work involved in chopping or crushing garlic and, of course, the stinky odor, are a turnoff to many people. Of course, garlic supplements are a readily available alternative, and many people might be tempted to take them instead of eating fresh garlic. While garlic supplements do contain allicin, they will probably not contain the full complement of other health promoting nutrients that work with allicin to maximize the overall benefit. It is better to eat one clove (or more if you can tolerate it) of fresh garlic daily, and there are so many different ways to incorporate it into your diet, it should not be difficult at all.