Garlic and ginger are both famous for their health benefits.
Decades of scientific research have shown that these popular ingredients have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and may offer some protection against disease.
Combining them may also have health-promoting effects. You could do this by consuming them in dishes like stir-fries and soups or supplementing them.
This article explores 7 impressive potential benefits of eating garlic and ginger together.
1. Garlic and ginger provide anti-inflammatory benefits
One of the most well-known benefits of ginger and garlic is their ability to decrease inflammation.
Although the body’s inflammatory response is essential for keeping you healthy, chronic inflammation is linked to the progression of many diseases, including heart disease and certain cancers.
Garlic and ginger contain powerful anti-inflammatory plant compounds that may help inhibit pro-inflammatory proteins associated with chronic inflammation.
Interestingly, different preparations of garlic contain different types of anti-inflammatory organosulfur compounds.
Fresh garlic is packed with:
- S-allyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide (alliin)
- γ-glutamyl cysteine derivatives
Dried garlic powder contains the compounds:
- diallyl disulfide (DADS)
Ground garlic offers:
- sulfide family compounds
- (E–Z)-ajoene compounds
Ginger is also loaded with anti-inflammatory substances, including the phenolic compounds gingerols and shogaols.
Several studies have demonstrated that ginger and garlic have anti-inflammatory effects.
For example, studies have shown that garlic and ginger reduce markers of inflammation in humans. Both foods lower your levels of these pro-inflammatory proteins:
- tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α)
- interleukin-6 (IL-6)
- high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP)
A 2020 review of 17 high-quality studies found that garlic supplements significantly reduced CRP. It also found that another type of garlic supplement, called aged garlic extract, significantly reduced CRP and TNF-α.
A 2020 review of 109 high-quality studies found that ginger may be particularly effective when people with arthritis use it to reduce inflammation and pain.
Little is known about the combined effects of ginger and garlic on inflammation in humans. However, based on the available research, it’s likely that using garlic and ginger together could help reduce markers of inflammation.
Summary: Studies show that garlic and ginger both separately offer potent anti-inflammatory effects. Based on results from clinical research, it’s likely that combining garlic and ginger would offer anti-inflammatory benefits.
2. Garlic and ginger may protect against cellular damage
Oxidative stress occurs when an overload of molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS) overwhelms your body’s defenses.
The body’s antioxidant defense system includes antioxidant enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase. These help keep the level of ROS in balance. However, when this system is overwhelmed, oxidative stress occurs, which leads to cellular damage.
Studies show garlic and ginger may help reduce oxidative stress markers, including the highly reactive and damaging compound malondialdehyde.
A 2015 study gave people with type 2 diabetes 2 grams of ginger powder daily for 12 weeks. At the end of this treatment, they had significantly reduced blood levels of malondialdehyde compared with a control group.
A 2016 study showed that taking ginger supplements reduced levels of malondialdehyde and the inflammatory marker TNF-α in people with tuberculosis.
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A 2008 study in 13 older people found that taking garlic supplements daily for 1 month decreased malondialdehyde levels and boosted levels of the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase.
What’s more, a 2020 study in rats with Alzheimer’s disease demonstrated that combined treatment with garlic, ginger, and chili pepper extract significantly increased levels of the defense enzymes superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase.
It also significantly decreased levels of the damaging compound malondialdehyde.
Summary: Studies in humans and rodents show that garlic and ginger may help reduce markers of oxidative stress and may help boost antioxidant defenses.
3. Garlic and ginger may benefit cognitive health
Regularly consuming garlic and ginger or taking garlic and ginger supplements may help protect your brain and improve cognition.
Some population studies have suggested that consuming garlic may be particularly helpful for protecting against cognitive impairment in certain populations.
A 2019 population study that included 27,437 older Chinese people found that those who consumed garlic more frequently were less likely to experience cognitive impairment. They also lived longer than those who rarely consumed garlic.
Scientists need to do more studies on this phenomenon, including research on other groups of people.
Studies have shown that taking garlic powder may improve memory and attention in healthy adults.
Research suggests the organosulfur compounds in garlic may help protect against nerve cell inflammation and degeneration.
Research has also linked ginger to cognitive benefits. In a 2011 study, taking 400 or 800 mg of ginger extract daily for 2 months helped improve cognitive performance and memory in healthy women, compared with a placebo.
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Additionally, animal studies suggest that taking ginger may help decrease brain damage, protect against neurodegenerative disease, and increase levels of antioxidant enzymes in the brain.
Summary: Ginger and garlic may benefit brain health by protecting against cognitive decline and improving cognitive function.
4. Garlic and ginger may reduce heart disease risk factors
Studies have shown that garlic and ginger have strong heart-protective properties and may help decrease some risk factors of heart disease, including:
- elevated blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- high blood sugar levels
A 2014 review of 22 high-quality studies found that consuming garlic powder significantly reduced levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and fasting blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
Other studies have shown that garlic helps reduce blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol and helps prevent atherosclerosis or plaque buildup in the arteries.
Studies have also linked ginger to heart health benefits.
A 2017 study including 4,628 participants found that consuming 1 gram of ginger daily decreased people’s risk of high blood pressure and coronary heart disease by 8% and 13%, respectively.
Ginger supplements may also help improve blood sugar control and reduce levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and inflammatory markers in people with diabetes. This is significant because people with diabetes have an increased risk of heart disease.
Therefore, consuming garlic and ginger regularly or taking garlic and ginger supplements may help you promote heart health.
However, you should check with a healthcare professional before taking high-dose garlic and ginger supplements because they may interact with certain medications. These include blood thinners, which healthcare professionals use to treat heart disease.
Summary: Studies show that ginger and garlic may help reduce heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure and high blood lipid levels and help protect against heart disease.
5. Garlic and ginger may be beneficial for those with diabetes
Garlic and ginger may help reduce blood sugar levels and improve other health markers in people with diabetes, especially if you take them in supplement form.
A 2020 study of 103 people with type 2 diabetes gave participants 1.2 grams of ginger supplements daily for 90 days. Those who took it experienced a greater reduction in blood sugar and total cholesterol levels than those who took a placebo.
A 2018 review that included 10 high-quality studies found that taking ginger supplements increased heart-protective HDL (good) cholesterol and reduced levels in the blood of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c).
This molecule is a marker of long-term blood sugar control, fasting blood sugar, and LDL (bad) cholesterol. So, when it reduces, it indicates your health is improving.
Studies suggest that garlic supplements may be helpful for people with diabetes as well.
A 2018 review of 33 studies found that garlic supplements were more effective than placebo treatments at reducing triglycerides, fasting blood sugar, total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and HbA1c in people with diabetes.
A 2017 review included nine high-quality studies that gave people with type 2 diabetes daily garlic supplements in doses of 0.05–1.5 grams. Participants who received this treatment experienced significant reductions in blood sugar and blood lipid levels.
If you want to use garlic and ginger supplements to treat diabetes or elevated blood sugar levels, check with a healthcare professional to ensure it’s safe.
Summary: Garlic and ginger may benefit those with diabetes by helping reduce blood sugar levels and improve other health markers. Check with a healthcare professional before taking high-dose garlic and ginger supplements.
6. Potential anticancer properties
Some evidence suggests that a diet rich in garlic and ginger may help protect against certain types of cancer. This may be due to their concentration of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that help protect against cellular damage.
For example, results from population studies have suggested that people who consume more garlic in their diet are less likely to develop colorectal cancer.
A 2020 study of 660 Puerto Rican women found that high garlic and onion consumption was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.
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Studies have also found that garlic intake reduces the risk of lung cancer and gastric cancer.
Many test tube and animal studies have found that ginger has anticancer effects against several types of cancer cells, including:
- pancreatic cancer cells
- prostate cancer cells
- breast cancer cells
Although these results are encouraging, ginger and garlic can’t replace cancer treatment. If you have cancer, don’t use garlic and ginger supplements unless your healthcare team approves them.
Summary: Research suggests that consuming a diet rich in garlic and ginger may offer some protection against certain cancers. If you’re receiving cancer treatment, follow your healthcare team’s advice.
7. Garlic and ginger may promote a healthy immune response
Garlic and ginger have potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. Thus, adding them to your diet may help keep your immune system healthy.
Garlic contains allicin and diallyl sulfide compounds that may help enhance immune cell activity and inhibit the expression of inflammatory proteins like interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β) and TNF-α.
They may also decrease the production of damaging molecules by suppressing certain enzymes.
Ginger may also help promote immune health by inhibiting your cells from producing proteins that promote inflammation, like TNF-α and interleukin-8 (IL-8).
A 2019 study of 70 people with rheumatoid arthritis gave participants 1.5 grams of ginger powder daily for 12 weeks.
The study found that ginger powder increased the expression of genes that helped prevent an autoimmune reaction. It also decreased the expression of inflammation-promoting genes.
Garlic and ginger offer powerful antiviral and antibacterial effects against various pathogens, including the flu and respiratory infections.
Additionally, limited evidence suggests that taking aged garlic extract supplements may help enhance immune cell function and reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms in healthy people. However, scientists need to do more research in this area.
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Summary: Garlic and ginger may benefit the immune system by decreasing inflammation and enhancing immune cell function. However, research in this area is limited, and scientists need to do more studies on humans.
Scientists have known about the health benefits of garlic and ginger for decades. However, there’s limited research on the potential health effects of combining garlic and ginger, whether in your diet or as supplements.
Studies show that ginger and garlic both offer significant health benefits.
Although studies on the combined effects of garlic and ginger are scarce, adding these powerful ingredients to your diet will probably benefit your health somehow.
However, if you want to take high-dose garlic and ginger supplements, speak with your healthcare professional first. This is especially important if you have a medical condition or are taking medication.