Garlic is a food full of benefits and properties. For hundreds of years, it has been considered a powerful food that supports the immune system and general health . But recent research has shown that the benefits of eating garlic also include lowering blood sugar levels and other diabetes-related problems.

What are the benefits of eating garlic if you are diabetic?

Several studies suggest that consuming moderate amounts of garlic (at least one clove a day) when you have type 2 diabetes can help regulate your blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. 

Results from nine studies looking at the connection between garlic and diabetes showed that there was a significant reduction in fasting blood glucose (sugar) in just 1-2 weeks in a group that took 0.05 to 1, 5 g of garlic supplement daily. Additionally, A1C levels dropped significantly at week 12. Garlic consumption was also shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.

Garlic can also keep your heart healthier as it lowers blood pressure and can further reduce the risk of cardiovascular events (such as heart attack and stroke) in patients with high blood pressure.

Are there any side effects from consuming too much garlic?

The health benefits of eating garlic aside, there are a few things to consider if you plan to increase your garlic consumption. While garlic is generally safe to consume, you will have to deal with its powerful taste and smell, and persistent bad breath . Consuming too much can also cause a strong body odor.

Garlic can contribute to heartburn, gas, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, especially if consumed raw. It can also increase the risk of bleeding , which is why it is not recommended to consume it a few weeks before a surgery. Also, if you are taking a blood thinner, it is best to speak with your doctor before consuming large amounts.

How can I add more garlic to my diet?

Garlic is a good addition to many foods, especially sauces, soups, and other savory dishes. If you don’t mind the strong flavor, you can add finely chopped raw garlic cloves to your salads or other meals. 

It is recommended to let the minced garlic sit for at least five minutes to enhance its health benefits. If you prefer the garlic a little milder, sauté it in olive oil or bake it before adding it to your favorite foods.

What about garlic supplements?

If you can’t handle more garlic in your diet, taking a garlic supplement may be your best option.

Supplements can be especially helpful for older adults who have lower caloric intake or less control of their food choices, or for pregnant women who cannot handle garlic in its natural form.

Also be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist to be sure the extra garlic intake doesn’t interfere with any of your other medications.

Keep in mind that the benefits of eating garlic far outweigh its less favorable smell. So if you have type 2 diabetes, consider adding a little extra garlic to your next meal. Your body will thank you.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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