Cousin to the onion and sister to the shallot, garlic is a small but mighty ingredient that’s been linked to weight loss, and its health benefits far outweigh the risk of bad breath!
What the Research Says
While the evidence is still preliminary, evidence from animal and human research has shown that garlic, or more specifically its sulfur-containing compounds, may help people lose weight. One of the major sulfur-containing compounds in raw garlic, allicin, is shown to potentially prevent obesity and associated metabolic disorders by activating brown adipose tissue or brown fat.
Brown Fat Burns Calories
Our bodies have several types of fat, white adipose tissue (white fat) and brown adipose tissue (brown fat). White fat is what we consider body fat. Unlike white fat, which stores calories and can lead to obesity, brown fat burns calories and has the potential to lead to weight loss. Unfortunately, most adults don’t have a lot of brown fat.
When the body gets cold, brown fat burns calories to produce heat, a process known as thermogenesis. In fact, brown fat burns a lot more calories than white fat does. This calorie-burning process can also be kicked into action by the sulfur-containing compounds present in raw garlic.
Many of these studies have published the effects of garlic supplements on animal models of obesity. One 2016 study found that oral administration of fermented garlic extract during eight weeks showed anti-obesity effects by reducing body weight, fat, triglyceride, and total cholesterol levels and suppressing the formation of white fat cells in obese mice.1
The beneficial effects of garlic on obesity are also well-documented in clinical trials. A meta-analysis published in The Journal of Nutrition suggests that garlic supplementation seems to reduce waist circumference, but not body weight and body mass index (BMI).2 Another study published in 2016 found that garlic powder supplements appeared to help reduce body weight and fat in people who have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.3
Garlic, specifically aged garlic extract, may even lead to weight loss in postmenopausal women. This 2012 study, which was published in Nutrition Research and Practice, found that postmenopausal women taking aged garlic extract daily for three months lost more weight (measured in body fat percentage and BMI) than those who did not.4
Adding Garlic to Your Diet
Garlic won’t magically make you lose 10 pounds, but it will give your weight-loss journey a tasty boost and a boatload of health benefits. Plus it’s ridiculously easy to incorporate into your everyday cooking. Here are some diet-friendly ideas to consider:
- Add minced garlic to your morning egg scramble or omelet.
- Add minced garlic to salad dressings.
- Add a few cloves to your guacamole to cut through the creaminess.
- Brew up some garlic lemon tea
- Sprinkle some baked veggies with minced garlic.
- Toast up a slice of bread, butter it, and sprinkle raw minced garlic on top.
- Toss some garlic in a pan with whatever veggies.
Eating raw garlic is really the best way to maximize the health benefits of this spicy vegetable. If you must cook it, try to crush or chop your garlic and allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before adding it to heat. Doing so will preserve many of garlic’s health benefits.
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