The People's Perspective on Medicine

Is Garlic a Key to Long Life?

Chinese elders who ate garlic often were more likely to enjoy a long life than those who rarely indulged.
Shigu, Yunnan, China – November, 2018. An old Chinese woman with a small child on the road in the village of Shigu, Yunnan, China

Can garlic help you live longer? A Chinese study of octagenarians and nonagenarians suggests that those who eat the most garlic are least likely to die prematurely (Nutrients, June 30, 2019). In this instance, of course, “premature” is a relative term. Anyone who reaches 80-plus is already enjoying a long life.

Long Life for Garlic Lovers:

Researchers recruited 27,000 Chinese elders at least 80 years old between 1998 and 2011. Since these people had already reached an advanced age before joining the study, approximately 22,000 of the volunteers died while enrolled. When the researchers followed up through 2014, they logged 92,505 person-years of data.

People who reported that they ate garlic five or more times a week survived longer than those who reported eating it less than once a week. They were about 11 percent less likely to die during the study period. Those who reported consuming the pungent vegetable one to four times weekly also benefited.

Why Would Garlic Be Helpful?

Perhaps one reason garlic might contribute to long life could be its effect on blood pressure. In China, older people with moderately low blood pressure live longer than those with either very high or very low blood pressure (BMJ, June 5, 2018). Crushed raw garlic lowers blood pressure, triglycerides and fasting blood sugar (Journal of Dietary Supplements, July 4, 2018).

Rate this article
4.3- 120 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
  • Shi X et al, "Garlic consumption and all-cause mortality among Chinese oldest-old individuals: A population-based cohort study." Nutrients, June 30, 2019.
  • Lv YB et al, "Revisiting the association of blood pressure with mortality in oldest old people in China: Community based, longitudinal prospective study." BMJ, June 5, 2018. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.k2158
  • Choudhary PR et al, "Effect of raw crushed garlic (Allium sativum L.) on components of metabolic syndrome." Journal of Dietary Supplements, July 4, 2018. DOI: 10.1080/19390211.2017.1358233
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.

Showing 11 comments
Add your comment

It is very unfortunate that conventional medicine does not read or care to read articles similar to this one. although Terry Graedon is an accomplished author and radio show host, this writing will most likely never make it to the desks of most US cardiologists or internists, because it is not related to a prescription. So I encourage those who need the least amount of encouragement, the readers of the People’s pharmacy to take and continue to take responsibility for your own health and you will out live your doctor as I have outlived mine. eat more garlic, it is a good treatment for bad breath. Peace to you all from Germany. I must stop and not over share and be nice.

That is interesting about Garlic, however nothing was written about Garlic supplements? How effective would they be if used on a daily or weekly basis?

How was it consumed? Did they just eat raw garlic or was it used in cooking?

Does the garlic have to be eaten raw or can it be cooked? If it is raw, what is the quantity (i.e. 2 medium garlic cloves) and just how could you eat this? Any suggestions?

does it have to be whole garlic or can powdered garlic or supplements do the same thing?

I grow my own garlic. Easier than I thought. Cure it and use it through the winter. One a day crushed and swallowed in organic apple sauce. I reach my 80th birthday in November and I don’t feel old yet.

I’ve been taking garlic ( 2 cloves every night before I go to work ((I work grave yard shift)) and a shot of ACV when I get home before I go to bed… I went to the Dr to do blood tests….so we’ll see and I’ll keep you informed

From the studies, it looks like raw crushed garlic is especially helpful. I wonder if any other commenters who incorporate that into their diet could share how they do so, and if spouse and co-workers notice the smell.

Raw garlic and onions are very beneficial to my health. I just feel better after have eaten them and have been doing so for the last 20+ years or so. BP always spot on normal or slightly below. At 70 I’m doing okay and am taking no drugs. If I offend some then so be it.

Does taking a garlic supplement offer the same protection?

I tend to think it has more to do with lifestyle of physical activity and not eating greasy or junk food. Genetics also plays a factor. Also depends where one lives–China’s pollution kills more people everyday so diet and lifestyle would be irrelevant. Chinese smoke a lot too, but their air quality is so bad it does not matter.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^