Chewing or swallowing: What’s the best way to eat garlic for maximum benefits?

Garlic is a culinary and medicinal powerhouse, hailed for its potential health benefits. It is rich in the compound allicin, which lends it a unique taste and strong fragrance. Garlic has antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, and these make it a superfood for the immune system! Garlic is not just good for heart health, but also helps in managing chronic conditions and promoting overall wellness. While it is widely used in cooking, eating garlic on an empty stomach may have some wonderful benefits for the body. But have you wondered whether you should be swallowing or chewing garlic for reaping its best benefits?

Health benefits of garlic

Consuming garlic has several health benefits! You may eat raw garlic on an empty stomach or include it in different ways in your diet!

1. Keeps cough or cold at bay

Consuming raw garlic can ward off infections like coughs or colds. You can keep your immunity high by eating two crushed garlic cloves on an empty stomach. Even the strong smell of garlic has the potential to keep infections or allergies at bay in kids and babies. Garlic bolsters the immune system, helping to prevent common illnesses like colds and flu, says nutritionist Avni Kaul.

what is the best way to eat garlic
Garlic is the best remedy to keep cough and cold at bay. Image courtesy: Freepik

2. Supports cardiovascular health

Garlic supports in the reduction of blood pressure and cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of heart disease, says the expert. Allicin, found in garlic, plays a major role in stopping the oxidization of LDL (bad cholesterol). This lowers cholesterol levels and improves heart health. Persistent consumption of garlic curbs the formation of blood clots. It also lowers blood pressure, which makes it a superfood for patients with hypertension.

3. Anti-inflammatory properties

Garlic’s anti-inflammatory components can help reduce inflammation and may benefit people with conditions such as arthritis, says the expert. People suffering from digestive issues can find relief from them by incorporating raw garlic into their diet. It improves the functioning of the intestine and curbs inflammation. Consuming raw garlic also helps to get rid of intestinal worms. The best part is that garlic boosts the production of good bacteria in the gut while destroying the bad bacteria.

4. Antioxidant properties

Garlic has antioxidants that protect against oxidative damage, lowering the risk of chronic diseases. Garlic hinders the production of free radicals in the body and helps prevent damage to the DNA. The presence of zinc in garlic boosts immunity. Vitamin C also helps to ward off infections. Alongside, its antimicrobial properties may be beneficial against eye and ear infections.

5. Detoxification

Garlic helps in detoxifying heavy metals from your body, particularly lead, thereby protecting organs from damage. It helps get rid of unwanted toxins in the body that we unknowingly consume in everyday life.

Also read: Earache? My mom says garlic may help to ease the pain

6. Weight loss

Garlic increases the process of heat production in the body and leads to the burning of more fat and also lowers LDL (bad cholesterol).

the best way to eat garlic
Get to know the best way to consume garlic. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What is the best way to consume garlic: Chew or swallow?

The best way usually to consume garlic for its health benefits is to eat it raw after crushing or chopping it and letting it sit for 10 minutes. This activates allicin, the compound responsible for many of garlic’s health benefits.

Cooking garlic could reduce its beneficial compounds, although lightly cooking it can still provide some advantages. Eating raw garlic maximises its immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, and cardiovascular benefits. To reduce its strong flavour, you can mix raw garlic with honey, and olive oil, or incorporate it into salads and dressings. This method ensures you get the most potent health benefits from garlic, suggests the expert.

Should you chew garlic or swallow garlic? “Chewing garlic releases beneficial compounds such as allicin, which has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It also boosts garlic’s flavour and aroma. Swallowing garlic cloves whole can still provide you with health benefits, but the release of active compounds is less efficient. For maximum health benefits, chewing is preferable, even though the strong taste and odour may be off-putting to some. Adjust consumption method based on personal preference and tolerance.”

This is corroborated by a 2005 study published in the Lipids in Health and Disease Journal. It looked into the effect of garlic on lipid profile, lipid peroxidation and cyclosporine serum level, by comparing the efficacy between swallowing and chewing. As per the study, swallowed garlic had no lowering effect on lipid level of serum, but crushed garlic or chewed garlic reduced cholesterol, triglyceride and blood pressure.

Also read: 6 unique ways to add garlic to your diet

Who should avoid consuming garlic?

People with certain health conditions or those on specific medications need to avoid consuming garlic. Individuals having gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or acid reflux may find that garlic exacerbates their symptoms. Those having a garlic allergy should obviously avoid it. Garlic might also interact with blood-thinning medications increasing the risk of bleeding, so individuals on these medicines should consult their doctor or a qualified dietician before consuming garlic.

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