Garlic (Allium sativum) has a longstanding reputation for being a healthy food and there’s a growing belief that it may also help people to lose weight.
Research suggests most of the therapeutic abilities of garlic may be due to a compound called allicin. So, although many people take garlic supplements to try and lose weight and/or maintain good general health, others take supplements that provide pure allicin instead.
But can allicin from garlic really help you to lose weight? Although a lot of people believe it can, there not much scientific evidence to prove it has this ability.
However, a considerable amount of research suggests the allicin in garlic can boost immune function, lower blood pressure, and provide other desirable health benefits.
Should you take a garlic or allicin supplement? Doing so does not generally entail much expense so you don’t have much to lose.
A better alternative may be to include fresh garlic in more of your meals. This will be especially easy to do if you are following the Mediterranean diet. Garlic is a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine and the Mediterranean Diet is known to one of the healthiest diets in the world.
Of course, if you dislike the taste of garlic or worry about walking around with a garlicky smell, you may not be keen to eat a lot of garlic. If this is the case, your only option may be to use a garlic or allicin supplement instead.
However, regardless of whether you decide to eat more garlic or take a supplement, it’s important not to have unrealistic expectations.
Garlic is a healthy food. It’s good for you. But it still lacks credibility as a weight loss aid. If you start eating garlic or using an allicin supplement and notice you have lost weight, see it as a bonus. Jump for joy, continue using it alongside your normal diet and exercise regimen, and hope for more of the same.
Why Allicin is Overrated as a Weight Loss Aid
The problem with using garlic for weight loss is there isn’t much proof it will work. The same is true for Allicin supplements.
The results of one study show garlic powder outperformed the placebo but it’s only one study. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26955623/)
There are a few other studies that suggest the allicin in garlic may support weight loss but far more suggest it does not.
The results of a meta-analysis of 13 clinical trials suggest garlic supplements may help reduce waist circumference but are unlikely to reduce body weight or BMI. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31357923/)
Garlic for Good Health: What the Research Shows
Garlic has a long history of medicinal use. Records show it was used by the Ancient Egyptians and by healers from other cultures all over the world including Babylonia, Greece, and China.
Early healers obviously knew what garlic can do but they didn’t know how it works.
Modern-day research reveals the health benefits of garlic are due to several sulfur compounds. Allicin is the most important one.
Research shows garlic can support good health in several ways including:
- Boosting immune function
- Lowering blood pressure
- Lowering cholesterol
- Removing heavy metal toxins from the body
Boosting Immune Function
Lots of studies support using garlic as an immune system booster. The results of one 12-week study involving 146 volunteers show the volunteers receiving the placebo were more likely to get colds than the volunteers who got the allicin-containing garlic supplement. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11697022/)
In addition to boosting immune function and preventing infection, garlic also appears to be good for reducing the severity of symptoms if people do become ill.
The results of a study conducted in Florida are highly supportive of this ability. They show the garlic extract the non-placebo volunteers were given reduced the severity of cold and flu symptoms. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22280901/)
This appeared to be partly due to garlic’s ability to enhance T Cell function.
Lowering Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a surprisingly common condition. It’s also a condition that contributes to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.
Many studies show the active compounds in garlic can lower blood pressure, making cardiovascular issues less likely to occur. However, good results require a pretty high dose.
The results of a study conducted in Saudi Arabia are particularly interesting because they suggest 600 – 1,500 mg doses of garlic extract can be as effective as Atenolol. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24035939/)
Atenolol is a beta-blocker medication doctors prescribe as a treatment for hypertension and heart-associated chest pain. It can present several unpleasant side effects including nausea and shortness of breath.
However, although garlic supplements may be a good option for people who want to control their blood pressure naturally and/or without side effects, it would be unwise to replace your medication with a supplement without getting your doctor’s approval. Seriously. Don’t do it. Doctor knows best.
Garlic appears to be able to further protect the heart by lowering levels of LDL cholesterol. There are two types of cholesterol. The good type is HDL. LDL cholesterol is the bad kind of cholesterol you do not want.
Study results vary but garlic generally appears to lower bad cholesterol levels by 10-15 percent. That’s okay, but garlic won’t be able to go head to head with cholesterol-lowering medications. Nevertheless, its ability to reduce LDL cholesterol is still a good reason to consider adding more garlic to your diet.
Gets Rid of Heavy Metal Toxins
When consumed in high doses, the allicin from garlic appears to offer protection against organ damage due to exposure to heavy metals like lead and mercury.
In a study involving employees from a car battery factory, whose work gave them excessive exposure to lead, 1200 μg of allicin, taken three times per day, reduced the amount of lead in their blood by 19%. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22151785/)
Supplements that provide garlic or allicin can benefit the body in a number of ways but their ability to support weight loss is disputable.
The red pepper extract capsaicin has far greater value as a weight loss aid. As do a number of other natural ingredients.
It’s also important to remember you don’t need to take supplements to take advantage of the health-boosting abilities of garlic. You could simply choose to eat more of it instead.
Although it is the most important therapeutic compound in garlic, allicin is not the only beneficial agent the distinctive-smelling bulb provides. So, if you are thinking of taking an allicin supplement there are certainly arguments for taking basic garlic capsules instead. Just think long and hard about it before you do.
If your main goal is weight loss, garlic/allicin supplements are not the best options. You would be better off using a good diet pill like Phentaslim instead.
However, if you want to boost your immune system, lower blood pressure, or scare vampires away garlic’s credentials are pretty good.