Garlic boost immune system

9 Foods That Can Naturally Improve Your Immune System

Sure, you might get the common cold when weather changes or after a few nights in a row with little sleep, but if you’re always getting sick, it could mean something’s off with your health. Luckily, there are certain foods that can boost your immunity, so you can fight germs and infections easier and have a faster recovery. That means less time in bed, running through tissue boxes, and more time being active and comfortable in your own skin.

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on feeling healthy and strong, and that extends across diet, activity level, self-care, and other ways to love and nourish the body. When you’re taking on too much (like crazy work deadlines or projects, perhaps), or you’re feeling stressed out, it can lead to a bad case of the sniffles, for sure. Likewise, if you don’t ensure that your body receives enough foods that are meant to boost the immune system, you’re lowering your body’s ability to fend off toxins, which can put you at risk of falling under the weather. Instead, by sleeping and taking care of yourself, as well as choosing a balanced diet, you’ll benefit your body and health, overall. Here are a few foods that can instantly improve your immune system and could be great staples to the diet.

1. Hot Water & Squeezed Lemon


“Something so simple has the ability to detoxify the liver, increase the metabolic rate, help digestion, minimize depression and anxiety, and reduce risk of cancer,” says Rebecca Gahan, [email protected] Fitness Owner and Founder, over email with Bustle. “Make sure to drink within 15 minutes of waking up,” Gahan says.

2. Citrus


Here’s more reason to love grapefruit or orange juice in the a.m. “Citrus contains Vitamin C which increases the production of white blood cells,” says Gahan. When there’s more of these cells, your body can better defend against diseases and bacterial intruders.

3. Green Tea


There’s nothing wrong with having decaf green tea to unwind before bedtime. “It’s packed with the antioxidant, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG),” says Gahan. What’s more, don’t switch to black tea, if you’re not a green tea fan. “Black tea is not a great alternative because it goes through a fermentation process, which kills many of the antioxidants,” says Gahan.

4. Yogurt


“Gut health coincides directly with the immune system. Thus, its important we include foods in our diet that help support the micro biome, too,” says ​Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT over email with Bustle. These foods can range from a variety of options, including probiotics like yogurt, kefir, kimchee, and sauerkraut,” Shaw says.

5. Walnuts


“These nuts are packed with antioxidants and help your skin fight off free-radical damage. They also are one of the best sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, acting as an anti-inflammatory to fight off auto-immune disorders like eczema and psoriasis,” says Gahan. Add walnuts to a Greek yogurt or oatmeal, or just snack on them, as is.

6. Mushrooms


Mushrooms are not only tasty, but they’re also great for your immune system, says Isabel K Smith, MS RD CDN over email with Bustle. Because of their high selenium content, it keeps the body in tip-top shape, Smith says. Add to stir fry, salads, pasta dishes, and more.

7. Kale


“Packed with Vitamin C to help fight off infection and regenerate antioxidants,” kale is a great food to eat to keep the immune system high and sharp, says Gahan. Or, try spinach, says Smith, as it’s high in zinc, which can stabilize T cells and fight infections.

8. Raw Garlic


Eating raw garlic might sound gross, but it’ll kick your immune system into gear, says Lauren Blake, RD, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center over email with Bustle. Here’s why: “Allicin, the main active compound in garlic, is thought to improve your immune cells’ ability to fight off colds and the flu,” says Blake. Plus, garlic also seems to have antimicrobial and antiviral properties that may help fight bacterial and viral infections. “To maximize garlic’s immune-boosting effects, aim to eat one clove two to three times per day. Crushing the garlic and allowing it to stand for 10 minutes prior to cooking can also help increase its effects,” says Blake.

9. Oats


You might want to pour a bowl of oats for breakfast. “Oats contain beta glucan that may help boost immune system to fight respiratory infections,” says Smith. Plus, oats are really filling, so it’ll help banish cravings later on in the day and get your morning off to a good start.

If you want to keep your body strong and fight illnesses as quickly as possible, keep these foods in your daily diet. Besides, they are delicious, too. No complaints necessary.

Julie Daniluk, R.H.N.

This time of year when the weather goes from mild to cold and back again, you may find you are more susceptible to colds and flu. We may set out with a lighter coat and by evening, the night chill can take a toll on our immune system. Recent research suggests that there may be a connection between getting a chill and the cold virus’s ability to take a hold and cause symptoms to develop.

And this is where garlic comes in. Garlic contains more than 100 biologically-useful chemicals (including alliin, alliinase, allicin, S-allylcysteine, diallyl sulfide and allyl methyl trisulfide), which do everything from lower cholesterol to fight off viruses. Garlic has been shown to protect against the common cold, so next time your co-worker shows up to work when they should stay in bed, try the tasty Caesar salad dressing below with lots of raw garlic to keep you healthy.

Five reasons to put up with garlic breath:

1. Garlic is antiviral and antifungal: Garlic has been used for centuries for its antibacterial and antiviral properties, but did you know that it can also prevent yeast infections? The chemical component of garlic (allicin) has been shown to prevent the growth of the candida albicans fungus in humans.

2. Garlic can reduce cholesterol: The powerful antioxidant properties of garlic prevents free radical damage to the arterial lining and prevents the formation of scar tissue on the arteries. This stops the initiation of plaque build-up. Garlic has also been shown to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood. High levels of homocysteine are directly linked to high cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease.

3. Fight off the cold and flu with garlic: Garlic has the ability to boost your immune system by increasing the rate at which your natural killer cells are made. Natural killer cells are a fundamental part of our non-specific immunity. This means that these cells will kill off all invaders without the specific targeting that antibodies use to kill pathogens.
4. Eat garlic to lower your blood pressure naturally: Garlic has the ability to decrease platelet aggregation. This means that garlic doesn’t let your blood cells stick together, and allows them to move more freely through your system. Consider eating more garlic instead of Aspirin to lower blood pressure and increase circulation.

5. Garlic can regulate blood sugar levels: The exact mechanisms by which this occurs are still under investigation, but consumption of garlic has been shown to have a regulatory effect on the blood sugar levels of type 2 diabetic patients. Combine this with its antioxidant properties and it’s the ultimate prevention food.

Immune-boosting Caesar salad

This salad is a great departure from the standard offering of croutons and creamy dressing. The dressing uses the fibre from the celery and the date to create a creamy texture without using dairy—it can be served to anyone with lactose intolerance. The sweetness helps cut the extra raw garlic and balances all the taste buds leaving you healthy and deeply satisfied.


1 head Romaine hearts (1 heart = 232 g)
1 head purple endive, leaves separated (1 leaf = 15 g)
1/2 fresh pineapple, diced
10 flax crackers (gluten-free if possible), broken into pieces
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
Caesar dressing:
Makes enough dressing for two to three salads so store leftovers in the fridge and consume quickly.
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
1 celery stalk, chopped fine
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp wheat-free tamari
3 anchovy fillets
1 date (1 tsp of honey works if dates are unavailable)
1/2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)

1. Wash and dry romaine hearts and endive leaves.
2. Chop pineapple and layer on top of the greens. Top with a light dusting of capers, flax crackers and grated hard cheese if desired.
3. Using a blender, whip all the dressing ingredients together.
4. Top the salad with the dressing and enjoy.
Makes two full salad servings.

Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts the Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her soon to be published first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.

For more amazing recipes visit’s recipe section.

Aged Garlic Extract Modifies Human Immunity


Garlic contains numerous compounds that have the potential to influence immunity. Immune cells, especially innate immune cells, are responsible for the inflammation necessary to kill pathogens. Two innate lymphocytes, γδ-T and natural killer (NK) cells, appear to be susceptible to diet modification. The purpose of this review was to summarize the influence of aged garlic extract (AGE) on the immune system. The author’s laboratory is interested in AGE’s effects on cell proliferation and activation and inflammation and to learn whether those changes might affect the occurrence and severity of colds and flu. Healthy human participants (n = 120), between 21 and 50 y of age, were recruited for a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel-intervention study to consume 2.56 g AGE/d or placebo supplements for 90 d during the cold and flu season. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were isolated before and after consumption, and γδ-T and NK cell function was assessed by flow cytometry. The effect on cold and flu symptoms was determined by using daily diary records of self-reported illnesses. After 45 d of AGE consumption, γδ-T and NK cells proliferated better and were more activated than cells from the placebo group. After 90 d, although the number of illnesses was not significantly different, the AGE group showed reduced cold and flu severity, with a reduction in the number of symptoms, the number of days participants functioned suboptimally, and the number of work/school days missed. These results suggest that AGE supplementation may enhance immune cell function and may be partly responsible for the reduced severity of colds and flu reported. The results also suggest that the immune system functions well with AGE supplementation, perhaps with less accompanying inflammation. This trial was registered at as NCT01390116.

aged garlic extract, human immunity, NK cell, γδ-T cell, colds, flu

Garlic has been widely known for centuries to influence health and to provide benefits to almost all physiologic systems. Aged garlic extract (AGE)4 is manufactured from organically grown garlic cloves (Allium sativum L.) that are sliced and soaked in an aqueous ethanol solution and extracted and aged up to 20 mo. Numerous compounds have been detected in AGE that have the potential to affect immunity, including the lectin family, which is known to interact with pathogen recognition receptors on immune cell surfaces (1, 2). Fructo-oligosaccharide and Nα-fructosyl arginine are aged garlic compounds that have structures resembling pathogen-associated molecular patterns, with the potential to interact with immune cells (3). Chandrashekar and Venkatesh (4) showed that the fructans from AGE were a well-tolerated adjuvant to IgG production when mice were treated with ovalbumin as the antigen.

The immune system is complex and redundant. In healthy persons, the immune system lives in surveillance mode, with cells migrating through the blood and lymph systems to detect pathogens in the body (Figure 1). When a potential pathogen is discovered, the immune system can often eliminate it without symptoms, although pathogens have unique ways to evade the body’s surveillance. When the amount of pathogen becomes a serious threat, the immune system goes into response mode. This response includes the proliferation of immune cells and the subsequent activation of those cells, characterized by increased expression of cell surface receptors and the synthesis and secretion of cytokines. Once the immune system has eliminated the pathogen, it then returns to surveillance mode by an active process of resolving inflammation.


Potential mechanisms by which diet may influence immunity, inflammation, and/or oxidative stress. Surveillance by the immune system allows for the destruction of potential pathogens, without any accompanying signs of illness. When a potential pathogen overwhelms the surveillance system, cells of the immune system respond (arrow 1), resulting in immune cell proliferation and activation and symptoms such as fever, congestion, etc. (arrow 2). Once the threat has been removed, the immune system returns to surveillance mode (arrow 3). The resolution of the response and return to surveillance is important because if the immune system does not return to normal, chronic inflammation persists. This inflammation is destructive to host tissues and organs and may lead to disease (arrow 4). Diet may play a role in aiding the surveillance processes by improving the initial response to potential pathogens and by helping to resolve the inflammation caused by the response. In addition, diet may play a role by supplying antioxidants that protect host tissues and organs during an inflammatory response.


Potential mechanisms by which diet may influence immunity, inflammation, and/or oxidative stress. Surveillance by the immune system allows for the destruction of potential pathogens, without any accompanying signs of illness. When a potential pathogen overwhelms the surveillance system, cells of the immune system respond (arrow 1), resulting in immune cell proliferation and activation and symptoms such as fever, congestion, etc. (arrow 2). Once the threat has been removed, the immune system returns to surveillance mode (arrow 3). The resolution of the response and return to surveillance is important because if the immune system does not return to normal, chronic inflammation persists. This inflammation is destructive to host tissues and organs and may lead to disease (arrow 4). Diet may play a role in aiding the surveillance processes by improving the initial response to potential pathogens and by helping to resolve the inflammation caused by the response. In addition, diet may play a role by supplying antioxidants that protect host tissues and organs during an inflammatory response.

The resolution of inflammation is a balance of positive and negative feedback from the immune cells and the tissue microenvironment. Neutrophils switch from synthesizing leukotrienes and prostaglandins to lipoxins and resolvins, among others (9, 10). Fibroblasts and other stromal cells remove their survival signals, resulting in apoptotic death of immune cells that are no longer needed (11). T-regulatory cells are involved in the transition from inflammation to resolution of inflammation (12), and there is an active coordinated process of apoptosis and clearance of cells by macrophages (13).

Inflammation is the product of an immune cell response, which is necessary and valuable for pathogen elimination and wound healing. In healthy humans, inflammation usually resolves itself. However, when the body is unable to resolve inflammation and revert to a surveillance mode, an unhealthy state of chronic inflammation develops. Chronic inflammation results from the prolonged activation of immunity or an inability to resolve the immune response and is associated with many disease states such as metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and arthritis (14, 15). Tissue damage caused by an overactive immune system creates a cycle whereby the immune system attempts to repair the damage, which, in turn, creates more inflammation and potentially more damage (Figure 1).

Can diet, or more specifically AGE, improve immune surveillance, improve the immune response, and/or help inflammation subside? Surveillance is the state in which the immune system removes the pathogen without causing symptoms related to illness. Improving the response means improving the ability to proliferate and the ability to activate (express receptors on the surface and secrete cytokines). Do the antioxidant properties of AGE help protect against the free radicals that damage the host and that set up a vicious cycle of tissue damage, inflammation, and more tissue damage? Is there a health outcome associated with functional immune cell changes?

Recent studies have shown the effectiveness of AGE on the immune response against implanted tumors in mice. Ebrahimpour et al. (16) and Fallah-Rostami et al. (17) investigated immune responses to implanted fibrosarcoma cells in mice. Naltrexone, an opioid antagonist, was used with or without AGE. AGE plus naltrexone increased survival times, tumor growth inhibition, and the immune response, mainly cytotoxicity, as well as the CD4+-to-CD8+ ratio and IFN-γ production (16). AGE alone also increased survival time, reduced tumor growth, and increased the production of IFN-γ (17). Larypoor et al. (18) examined the immunostimulatory aspects of AGE against the immunosuppression by aflatoxin B1. They concluded that AGE alters the cytokine pattern toward T helper (Th) 1, whereas aflatoxin B1 alters the cytokines into a Th2 pattern. The Th1 pattern is beneficial to immunity in general and to antitumor immunity specifically.

In our study completed in 2011 (19), we used healthy adults to examine the effects of AGE on 2 specific innate-like lymphocytes, the γδ-T cell and the NK cell, as our primary outcome. The effect of AGE on NK cells has been studied in patients with cancer (20). No studies, to our knowledge, have examined the effect of AGE on γδ-T cells, and this cell has been shown by our previous studies to be modified by diet (21, 22). Although not many γδ-T cells are found in the blood, they are numerous in the intestine and epithelial linings of the lung and genitourinary tract. For our randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-intervention study, we recruited 120 healthy individuals, 60 for each group, to determine the effect of consuming 2.56 g AGE daily. Capsules were consumed for a total of 90 d, and the blood draw was taken at the beginning and at 45 d to determine if immune changes had occurred. The study continued for another 45 d to capture the full cold and flu season. Participants’ average age was 26 y and 60% were female. Overall compliance determined by capsule count was good, with an average of 85% taking their capsules as directed for the entire study. Compliance was also shown by increased SAC concentrations in the serum and increased reduced glutathione (GSH) concentrations in the cytosol of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), as seen in Table 1.


Changes in serum SAC and PBMC cytosol GSH concentrations in adults who received 2.56 g AGE/d or placebo for 45 d1

AGE (n = 56) Placebo (n = 56) P
SAC, ng/mL 228.0 ± 15.0 109.7 ± 18.8 <0.001
GSH, nmol/L 144.1 ± 0.1 −55.1 ± 0.1 0.036
AGE (n = 56) Placebo (n = 56) P
SAC, ng/mL 228.0 ± 15.0 109.7 ± 18.8 <0.001
GSH, nmol/L 144.1 ± 0.1 −55.1 ± 0.1 0.036


Values are means ± SEMs. Baseline values were subtracted from the values at 45 d. The negative value in the placebo group indicates that GSH concentrations were lower at the end of the study. AGE, aged garlic extract; GSH, reduced glutathione; PBMC, peripheral blood mononuclear cell; SAC, S-allyl-L-cysteine.


Changes in serum SAC and PBMC cytosol GSH concentrations in adults who received 2.56 g AGE/d or placebo for 45 d1

AGE (n = 56) Placebo (n = 56) P
SAC, ng/mL 228.0 ± 15.0 109.7 ± 18.8 <0.001
GSH, nmol/L 144.1 ± 0.1 −55.1 ± 0.1 0.036
AGE (n = 56) Placebo (n = 56) P
SAC, ng/mL 228.0 ± 15.0 109.7 ± 18.8 <0.001
GSH, nmol/L 144.1 ± 0.1 −55.1 ± 0.1 0.036


Values are means ± SEMs. Baseline values were subtracted from the values at 45 d. The negative value in the placebo group indicates that GSH concentrations were lower at the end of the study. AGE, aged garlic extract; GSH, reduced glutathione; PBMC, peripheral blood mononuclear cell; SAC, S-allyl-L-cysteine.

In a population of cells from participants who consumed AGE for 45 d, the γδ-T and NK cells were able to proliferate better in ex vivo cultures than cells from those who consumed the placebo (19).The γδ-T cells nearly doubled their ability to proliferate, whereas the NK cells almost tripled their proliferation numbers when compared with preconsumption values. The expression of CD314 , a marker of activity, on the surface of NK cells was significantly greater after AGE supplementation, suggesting the potential for more cytolytic activity by NK cells. This cytolytic activity is responsible for killing infected and tumor cells but may also play a role in inducing the apoptosis of responding immune cells, as the need for them is decreased when the pathogen has been eliminated. In addition, γδ-T cells have been shown to kill macrophages during the resolution of bacterial infections (23, 24). Thus, there may be a role for AGE to help resolve inflammation by improving conditions for immune cell death by apoptosis.

Participants (n = 120) were instructed to keep a daily diary of symptoms related to illness as a secondary study outcome. After 90 d of AGE/placebo supplementation, the diaries were collected and the entries were analyzed. With 55% of the placebo group and 45% of the AGE group reporting illnesses, no significant difference in the incidence of colds and flu was seen between the groups (Figure 2A). Participants who consumed AGE appeared to have a reduction in the severity of their illness, as noted by a reduction in the number of symptoms reported (Figure 2B), and a reduction in the number of days they functioned suboptimally and/or missed work or school due to illness (Figure 2C). These results suggest that, although not helping to prevent an illness, the addition of AGE to the diet could be useful in reducing illness severity.


Incidence of self-reported cold or flu (A), number of symptoms reported by participants who became ill (B), and number of days that participants reported a decrease in their normal routines due to illness during consumption of an AGE supplement (2.56 g/d; n = 56) or a placebo (n = 56) for 90 d. P values are shown when the groups differed significantly (z-test of proportions). AGE, aged garlic extract.


Incidence of self-reported cold or flu (A), number of symptoms reported by participants who became ill (B), and number of days that participants reported a decrease in their normal routines due to illness during consumption of an AGE supplement (2.56 g/d; n = 56) or a placebo (n = 56) for 90 d. P values are shown when the groups differed significantly (z-test of proportions). AGE, aged garlic extract.

In determining compliance, we found improved GSH concentrations in PBMC cytosol and improved thiol status in the serum (Table 1). These 2 antioxidants serve to protect host tissues in times of oxidative stress. Immunity requires GSH for 2 reasons. First, because the immune system produces free radicals to kill pathogens, GSH serves to protect the host immune cells with its antioxidant activity. Second, lymphocytes are dependent on adequate GSH concentrations; T cell proliferation and NK cell cytotoxic activity are functions that are impaired under low GSH conditions (25, 26). It is unclear why the individuals in the placebo group had lower GSH concentrations after the study than they did before the study began.

The change in cytokine concentrations detected in the cell culture supernatant of PBMCs stimulated with phytohemagglutinin for 24 h was also noteworthy. Participants who had consumed AGE for 45 d had reduced concentrations of both TNF-α and IFN-γ, although the values did not achieve significance (19).

Taking these results into consideration, we concluded that supplementing the diet with AGE resulted in enhanced immune cell function, and perhaps under less inflammatory conditions. This led us to hypothesize that AGE supplementation might reduce inflammation in a chronically inflamed population.

It is well known that obesity is associated with chronic inflammation in both adults (27) and children (28). Immune function is reduced in obese and overweight people, and yet they are in a chronic state of inflammation. Adipose tissue actively secretes adipokines, cytokines, and chemokines, and the more adipose tissue one has, the more inflammatory mediators will be secreted (29). In the peripheral blood of overweight and obese individuals, increased inflammation has been represented by a higher neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio, elevated high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, and increased chemokines (30).

In addition, Lautenbach et al. (31) found a reduction in NK cells in the livers of obese individuals. It is worth noting that after AGE consumption, when immune cells were stimulated ex vivo we found both enhanced NK proliferation and increased expression of the surface receptor NKG2D on those cells (19). NKG2D, the cytolytic receptor found on NK cells and several other tumoricidal immune cells (32, 33), is thought to be important in resolving inflammation through apoptosis of the immune cells that are no longer required once a response has ended.

The literature is replete with research that endorses the concept of inappropriate immunity leading to inflammation, whether as chronic inflammatory activity or an inability to resolve an immune response. Theories to define what might be responsible for creating this problem have included the following: alterations in adipokine synthesis and secretion, oxidative stress, adipose tissue hypoxia, endoplasmic reticulum stress, and FA-induced inflammation (29). It is likely that a combination of these theories may eventually result in a plausible explanation. What is important, however, is that many, if not all, of our disease risks are associated with chronic inflammation. If a dietary supplement derived from garlic could help to alleviate the consequences of this type of inflammation, this could only lead to improved health outcomes in the general population.


SSP had responsibility for all parts of the manuscript.

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  • AGE

    aged garlic extract

  • GSH

    reduced glutathione

  • NKG2D

    natural killer group 2 member D

  • PBMC

    peripheral blood mononuclear cell

  • SAC


  • Th

    T helper


2 Support for this research was provided by Wakunaga of America Co., Ltd.

Author notes

1 Published in a supplement to The Journal of Nutrition. Presented at the conference “2014 International Garlic Symposium: Role of Garlic in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Metabolic Syndrome, and Immunology,” held 4–6 March 2014 at St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, CA. This supplement is dedicated to our colleague and friend John A Milner. His dedication to good science and his voice for nutrition are remembered and sorely missed. The symposium was sponsored by the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine and the University of Florida and co-sponsored by the American Botanical Council; the American Herbal Products Association; the ASN; the Japanese Society for Food Factors; the Japan Society for Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Agrochemistry; the Japan Society of Nutrition and Food Science; and the Natural Products Association. The symposium was supported by Agencias Motta S.A.; Bionam; Eco-Nutraceuticos; Healthy U 2000 Ltd.; Magna; Mannavita Bvba; MaxiPharma; Medica Nord A.S.; Nature’s Farm Pte. Ltd.; Nature Valley W.L.L.; Organic Health Ltd.; Oy Valioravinto Ab; Purity Life Health Products L.P.; PT Nutriprima Jayasakti; Vitaco Health Ltd.; Vitae Natural Nutrition; Sanofi Consumer Health Care; Wakunaga Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.; and Wakunaga of America Co., Ltd. The Chair of the conference and Scientific Program Coordinator for the supplement publication was Matthew J Budoff, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA. Scientific Program Coordinator disclosures: MJ Budoff has been awarded research grants from Wakunaga of America Co., Ltd., and received an honorarium for serving as Chair of the conference. Vice-Chair and Supplement Coordinator for the supplement publication was Susan S Percival, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Supplement Coordinator disclosures: SS Percival has been awarded research grants from Wakunaga of America Co., Ltd., and received an honorarium for serving as Vice-Chair of the conference. Publication costs for this supplement were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This publication must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 USC section 1734 solely to indicate this fact. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and are not attributable to the sponsors or the publisher, Editor, or Editorial Board of The Journal of Nutrition. © 2016 American Society for Nutrition

Can garlic help the immune system?

How might garlic help the immune system?

For many years there have been suggestions that garlic can help with a whole variety of medical problems, including heart disease, high cholesterol and colds and flu.1 Part of the reason for this is that garlic contains allicin – a property which is released when you cut into the vegetable (this property is also the cause of the vegetables distinctive smell). This, along with the antioxidants inside the vegetable, help to fight off infection and support the immune system – the part of the body that protects and fights against things like cold and flu.

The Studies

You’re probably wondering what the evidence is to back up this claim, that’s why we’ve had a look at the research!

One study conducted by the University of Florida used a group of 120 people to determine the effects of aged garlic on the growth of immune cells and cold and flu symptoms. They found that taking aged garlic reduced the severity of cold and flu symptoms and that these symptoms also went away quicker. Their overall conclusion from this was that garlic boosted participant’s immune cell function.2 Another study conducted in Mexico, using similar methods, found that garlic reduced the frequency of colds in adults but not the duration.3

However, as with all studies, we must consider the issues with them. To get these positive results for example, individuals had to consume garlic regularly. Also, it is widely agreed that more evidence is needed to draw a full conclusion about the benefits of garlic to the immune system.4

How do you get more garlic into your system?

The evidence suggests that raw or aged garlic is most effective in boosting the immune system and fighting off colds. This is because most of the therapeutic aspects of the vegetable are lost through cooking.5 However, although some people may enjoy nibbling on a week-old clove of garlic, the majority of us do not. I don’t blame you, it doesn’t sound too tasty! There are other ways you can incorporate more garlic into your diet though, and therefore help out your immune system.

Jan de Vries – Hawthorn-Garlic Complex Capsules

This product, which is made from organic garlic and red hawthorn berries, can be used for a variety of purposes. It’s great if you’re feeling stressed for example, as it contains antioxidants to help fight oxidative stress. However, it has traditionally been used to help support blood pressure, circulation and cholesterol as well.


If this option doesn’t take your fancy, and you don’t want to munch on raw garlic either, you could just try incorporating more garlic into your regular diet. You can add some raw, crushed garlic to a homemade salad dressing for example, and this would avoid any cooking. Alternatively, we have many recipes for you to try, including our Tomato, Garlic and Chickpea Soup. This will give you a tasty, healthy lunch and is super quick to make too! If you’re feeling brave, you could add a few more garlic cloves into the recipe to increase you intake of this valuable vegetable – but maybe buy some mints for afterwards!

Here are a few tips to maximise the health benefits of garlic when cooking:

  • Crush or slice your garlic before eating it as this increases the allicin content (the part of the vegetable that helps boost your immune system)
  • Before cooking, allow the garlic to stand for a few minutes as this can help prevent the loss of its medical properties
  • Using more garlic than normal can compensate for the effects of cooking.

How much garlic should you consume?

Two to three garlic cloves a day would be the minimum amount you could take for it to have a positive effect on your body. Remember though, consuming a lot of garlic can cause some digestive upset so, if you decide to take a supplement as well, don’t exceed the recommended dosage. We’d recommend you stick to the natural options given above when it comes to consuming garlic.






Garlic is practically a one-stop-shop when it comes to vitamins. That’s why it’s a great idea to take garlic supplements! It’s highly nutritious, loaded with all the fortification you need to fight off sickness, and strengthen your immune system.

If you’re not in the mood to get a cold this fall, you have got to give garlic a go. Garlic consumption has been shown to reduce the length of colds by 70%, and can also aid with a whole host of medical issues, including high blood pressure and is rich in antioxidants.


But what if the taste of garlic is little too strong for you? You’re in luck. When taken as a supplement, garlic has been shown to (possible) be more effective as a physical fortifier. For this reason, we’ve put together a list of garlic supplements on the market for your browsing pleasure.

Happy browsing!

1. Nature’s Bounty Garlic

Source: Nature’s Bounty Garlic

Nature’s Bounty Garlic comes in a pair of two bottles. 240 count. $12.98


One user says: “I have used garlic for a number of years not only for cardiovascular health but I have found that garlic is effective at helping keep a cold at bay and for fighting off a cold once I get it. So, garlic has been part of my regular cold fighter routine. I have tried different brands of garlic pills, including tablets (coated and uncoated) and the gel cap versions of garlic. I personally think that the coated tablets are more effective than the gel cap and uncoated versions. I am also not so sure that the gel cap versions contain as much garlic as they indicate either.”

2. Solaray Garlic

Source: Solaray Garlic


Solaray Garlic is gluten-free, and contains only garlic and vegetarian celulose. $10.22

One user says: “is potent and strong. works but if you take more than one you will get it on your breath”


3. Aged Black Garlic

Source: Aged Black Garlic

Aged Black Garlic is GMO and Gluten free. $23.99

One user says: “I found out I had high blood pressure 2 weeks ago and as a skinny 33 year old that’s a tough pill to swallow. I started taking these a week ago but in full disclosure I started taking this as well as a change of diet and exercise everyday. Ok well about 15 minutes each day on weekdays and an an hour of walking on the weekend. My morning ritual is take 2 of these, an omega 3 supplement and a tablespoon of apple cider vinger. But in 1 week this was my result, yea it’s still high but it’s pretty good for only 1 week.”

4. Nature’s Bounty Odorless Garlic

Source: Nature’s Bounty Odorless Garlic

Same as the original softgels, but Nature’s Bounty Odorless Garlic with odor reduction for those sensitive to the smell. $6.99.

Tom Says: “We us garlic as part of a daily health maintenance nutrition supplementation. We consider the Natures Bounty brand to be a quality product. In this case we ordered two bottles. One was in perfect condition, but the second was totally melted into a blob. So we just tossed that bottle.”


5. Zhou Extra Strength Garlic

Source: Zhou Extra Strength Garlic

Zhou Extra Strength Garlic contains Allicin. $14.24.

Emmanuel says: “With sustained usage of this product (three months) my blood pressure dropped from 145/90 to 129/70 on two tablets per day. The only other change I made was walking 30 minutes every other day and cutting down on processed high-sodium foods. This is a perfectly reasonable approach that may help you taper off medication eventually, with your doctor’s supervision of course.”

6. Himalaya Garlic

Source: Himalaya Garlic

Himalaya Garlic is GMO and gluten free. $13.28.

One user says: ” have used this product line before and it seems reputable to me. I am a 45 yo hisp/native american who has had escalating high cholesterol. Right now, 222 LDL, 130 HDL. Going to give this a try even though it is not “kyloic” and hope I don’t stink! What I do appreciate about this supplement is that when I smell and pop it in my mouth, I literally sense (smell and taste) that it is the same sensation as when I chop the real deal and put it on toast.”

7. Pure Healthland Black Garlic

Source: Pure Healthland Black Garlic

Pure Healthland Black Garlic is USDA Certified Organic, NON-GMO Verified and does not contain ingredients of animal origin. Each caplet is also free-from additive, gluten, wheat, corn, soy and dairy, and contains no artificial fillers, binders or excipients. $22.79

One user says: “wasn’t aware black garlic existed till I was about to reorder my regular white garlic, and saw this advert as “other people also order”. Did some research (10 times stronger than white garlic!), went back to Amazon, ordered this. I don’t have garlic breath for several minutes after taking it, like happened with the white garlic. I’m confident this will help keep me in good health.”

8. Rejuvenation Therapeutics Garlic Supplement

Source: Rejuvenation Therapeutics Garlic Supplement

Rejuvenation Therapeutics Garlic Supplement is gluten free. $12.30

One user says: “I take a lot of supplements and I definitely need supplements for heart/cardiovascular health. I cannot say how well these work to that degree. Likely as well as any other garlic supplement. What I can say is this… These supplements smell like garlic. As soon as I put the two capsules in my mouth (the serving is 2 per day) I tasted garlic very strongly. Then I tasted garlic for hours and my husband asked me if I ate garlic bread so apparently my breath smelled like garlic too. Maybe it just affected me oddly because I have a sensitive stomach and sensitive taste buds but as I write this I can still taste the garlic and it’s been hours. If you don’t like the taste of garlic you definitely don’t want to get these. On the other hand, if you love garlic and would love to taste it all day these would be great.”

9. Natural Vitamin High Allicin Garlic

Source: Natural Vitamin High Allicin Garlic

Natural Vitamin High Allicin Garlic is high-concentration and gluten free. $19.94.

Olivia says: “So far I’ve taken it for BV for 2 days now. It does give me a small stomach ache at first and acid reflux with some garlic burps, but it seems to be working so I’m not really disappointment. Will update in another week or so on the longer term results.
Ok so I just figured out by process of elimination and re-entry that these make me super super sick for days after just one dose! Very upset that they have this awful effect because the other effects they had were wonderful.”

10. New Chapter Garlic Force

Source: New Chapter Garlic Force

New Chapter Garlic Force is Non-GMO Project Verified, 100% Vegetarian, Certified Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Soy Free. $23.97.

Joey says: “Great, but I can taste it when I burp.”

11. Now Garlic 5000

Source: Now Garlic 5000

Now Garlic 5000 is reduced moisture. Nut and gluten free. $11.10

Jim says: “This is a good value in a garlic supplement. Does not have any nasty after taste. The price is right and one pill per day does the trick.”

12. Natural Nutra High Allicin Garlic

Source: Natural Nutra High Allicin Garlic

Natural Nutra High Allicin Garlic is high strength, not recommended for children or pregnant women. $21.80.

NOTE: A previous image of the label said this product contained gelatine. This has been corrected, and verified to be vegan-friendly.

Garlic Recipes

Of course you might be tempted to forgo the supplements and enjoy the tasty flavor garlic has to offer in your food. Here’s a few recipes, courtesy of the Food Monster App.

1. Garlic Pasta With Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Source: Garlic Pasta With Crispy Brussels Sprouts

What is a better way to ward off colds than a warm bowl of al dente pasta? Maybe if aforementioned pasta is tossed in a creamy, nut-free garlic sauce and then topped with crispy shallots and tender Brussels sprouts. Rene Barke‘s Garlic Pasta With Crispy Brussels Sprouts dish is simple to make and the perfect dinner to keep you warm and satisfied!

2. Black Garlic BBQ Mushroom Sandwich

Source: Black Garlic BBQ Mushroom Sandwich

Meaty mushrooms, caramelized onions, crunchy slaw, and creamy avocados are so satisfying together in Rachel Carr’s Black Garlic BBQ Mushroom Sandwich! Black garlic is an unusual ingredient that lends a very unique and ephemeral flavor to this dish. It’s made by fermenting whole garlic bulbs for several weeks, until the flavor becomes mildly sweet, molassey, and mild.

3. Garlic and Thyme Pan-Seared Mushrooms

Source: Garlic and Thyme Pan-Seared Mushrooms

If you like mushrooms, you’ll love Renee Press‘s dish. Garlic and Thyme Pan-Seared Mushrooms is best served with… well, anything! You can serve this with pasta, put it on a sandwich, over rice, toast, whatever you desire. The aromatic flavors blend well with so many different kinds of food.

Liked this article? Check out more food health features like 15 Immune System Boosting Recipes. We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!

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