The Health Benefits of Garlic and Other Allium Vegetables

“You’ve got garlic breath.”

That’s hardly a compliment. The smell from your breath can make eating garlic unpleasant on a first date and other social occasions. 

Even so, garlic tastes good. It gives dishes like our Old-fashioned BBQ Chicken with Garlic Tomato Zucchini Noodles and Bok Choy amazing flavor. And garlic comes packed with nutrients, which support your immune system and lots more.1

Garlic belongs to a category called allium vegetables. They also include onions, chives, leeks, and shallots.2 Botanically, garlic is a vegetable that belongs to the onion family. As a food, you’ll probably use it like an herb or spice.3 

Regardless, you’re probably not eating enough garlic, onions, and other nutrient-rich vegetables. 

You might not care for their pungent odor. Allium vegetables might seem difficult to cook with. Slicing an onion releases a chemical that can irritate your eyes,4 and garlic can blister or burn your skin if you hold it too long.5

A supplement can conveniently help get those benefits. Our Max Greens Capsules combine fruit, vegetables, and other nutrient-rich foods. In just two easy-to-take capsules, you can support your gut, immune system, and so much more.

The Health Benefits of Allium Vegetables Go Way Back

For thousands of years, people have eaten allium vegetables for health benefits. In fact, garlic goes back over 6,000 years.6 Since ancient times, onions have provided relief for headaches, heart disease and mouth sores.7

Around the 1940s, researchers began studying particular nutrients in allium vegetables.8 Among their benefits, they can help manage heart disease.9 

They also help reduce your risk of several types of cancers. One study found that men who ate more allium vegetables, especially garlic and scallions, lowered their risk of prostate cancer.10 Another review found that allium vegetables could benefit people with gastric cancer.11  

Eating these vegetables also helped normalize:

  • Cholesterol and other blood lipid levels 
  • Blood sugar for people with diabetes
  • Blood pressure in people with high blood pressure12 

Allium vegetables might even help you lose weight. At least that’s what animal studies show with eating garlic.13 Likewise, onions can help control blood sugar levels and lower body fat.14

The Many Roles of Sulfur in Good Health

Many of these benefits come from sulfur, a mineral with numerous health benefits. You probably know the smell of sulfur from hard-boiled eggs.15 Garlic and onions also contain this mineral, which give these allium vegetables their smell and flavor.16 

When you cut or crush garlic, your body converts the major sulfur compounds into its active ingredient, allicin.17 This sulfur-containing ingredient breaks down into four smelly compounds that linger in your body. 

These compounds create bad breath. They also make your urine and sweat smell. In fact, that smell can linger for two days.18 (Eating apples, lettuce, or peppermint can reduce the odor from eating that much garlic.19

Likewise, cutting or crushing an onion releases sulfur, which gives them their characteristic smell and flavor. 

The pungent smell in allium vegetables is a defense mechanism: These compounds kill microbes and repel insects. (Sulfur chemicals can damage red blood cells in dogs and cats, so keep these vegetables against them.)20

What harms insects and animals can benefit you. Sulfur can protect against allergies, osteoarthritis, muscle soreness, and skin conditions such as acne.21 Sulfur also helps your body build glutathione, an important antioxidant that can support your immune system, lower inflammation, and much more.22 

Garlic, for instance, can help your body fight the germs that make you sick. Garlic can reduce your risk of:

  • Getting sick
  • How long you stay sick
  • How severe symptoms are when you’re sick23

The active compound in garlic, allicin, quickly converts to other sulfur-containing compounds. They can help your body’s white blood cells fight viruses, including the viruses that cause the common cold or flu.24

Boost Your Immune System? Eat More Allium Vegetables

The sulfur-containing compounds in allium vegetables can benefit your body’s inflammatory response. They support your body’s antioxidant defense to protect against oxidative stress.25 

Garlic gets most of the glory, but all allium vegetables can support your body’s antioxidant defenses and protect your immune system. 

Too many free radicals can create oxidative stress, which contributes to numerous diseases including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and aging.26 Oxidative stress can age you and make you more prone to age-related problems like bone loss.27 

Chronic inflammation can also occur when your body lacks the antioxidants to neutralize damaging free radicals.28 This type of inflammation can contribute to nearly every disease, including obesity.29

Allium vegetables are packed with antioxidants to support your body’s defense. Onions, for instance, have over 25 different varieties.30 

One of the most-studied is quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that helps lower inflammation. Quercetin can benefit heart health, fight cancer, relieve allergy symptoms, balance blood sugar levels, and more.31

Things like a high-sugar diet, drinking alcohol, and environmental toxins can further contribute to oxidative stress and inflammation.32 To protect your immune system and promote good health, you’ll want to minimize or avoid those things.

You also want to focus on ways to support your body’s immune defense system. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is the best way to help your body create those antioxidants.33

How to Get More Allium Vegetables in Your Diet

Along with sulfur, garlic contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C.34 Likewise, onions provide vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, and more.35 Allium vegetables also provide prebiotics, or the food that feeds your good gut bugs.36

Don’t be daunted by cooking with allium vegetables. Start slowly: Onions are simple to add raw or cooked to your meals. Add some raw onion to your guacamole. Throw in some sliced onion to broccoli, mushrooms, or other vegetables.37 

If you cook garlic, don’t heat it above 140°F since higher temperatures destroy allicin. One option is to add garlic when you’re almost done cooking a recipe.38

You can get the benefits of garlic, onions, and other allium vegetables in our delicious, convenient recipes:

Supplements to Get the Benefits of Allium Vegetables

Eating enough allium vegetables to get their benefits can be a challenge. Consider garlic. You need to eat two to three cloves daily to get its benefits.39 One study found that five grams of fresh crushed garlic could support the immune system.40 

Most of us don’t eat that much garlic.41 Supplements can provide the immune and other benefits of garlic without preparing or eating therapeutic amounts. 

Garlic supplements can help reduce the number of colds as well as cold symptoms.42 One study found that aged garlic extract could reduce the number of days you have a cold or flu by 61 percent.43

We’ve combined the sulfur and other benefits of garlic in our Garlic + Parsley Oil Blend. This unique supplement includes Garlicillin®, which combines garlic and parsley oils for immune and many health benefits. 

Our softgels are enteric coated to get all those nutrients without an unpleasant garlic odor. In fact, the parsley can improve your breath. You get all the health benefits of garlic in one easy-to-take softgel.

Immune Support and More? Eat More Vegetables, Period

Most likely, the health benefits of allium vegetables come from a combination of nutrients including vitamin C.44 

You’ll want to eat more allium vegetables, but you also want to choose a wide variety of vegetables and low-sugar fruits. Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli and Brussels sprouts, for instance, contain cancer-fighting nutrients including sulforaphane.45

Even when you’re eating from our Core or Advanced Plans, getting the nutrients in vegetables that can help support your immune system and much more can be a challenge. That’s where a supplement can help. 

Green powders make a great way to get the nutrients you might not be getting if you’re not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Sometimes — if you’re traveling, say, or stuck at the office working long hours — mixing a powder into liquid can be inconvenient.

That’s why we made Max Greens Capsules. This unique formula provides comprehensive fruit and vegetable blends, immunity blends, fiber, and probiotics in just two capsules every day. 

Only one in 10 Americans get enough fruits and vegetables daily.46 Max Greens Capsules are a comprehensive way to supply the body with two servings of veggies and one serving of fruit in every serving. 

Whether you’re already meeting your quota but want the assurance that you’re getting all nutrients that vegetables provide, or you struggle some days to get enough vegetables (it happens with even the healthiest of us!), Max Greens Capsules makes a convenient way to get all the nutrients that allium and other vegetables provide.