For many amateur cooks, garlic is a popular cooking spice because of its pungent taste and aroma. It works especially well in stews, sauces, pizzas, and pasta dishes.

This powerful ingredient is linked to several health benefits due to its medicinal properties. Despite its versatility and health benefits, some garlic enthusiasts wonder if it is possible to go overboard (1).

This article examines the research to determine if you can eat too much garlic.

Although garlic is a healthy addition to a balanced diet, consuming too much can have several side effects.

Increased risk of bleeding

One of the most serious side effects of too much garlic is an increased risk of bleeding, especially if you’re taking blood thinners or undergoing surgery.

This is because garlic has antithrombotic properties, which means it can prevent blood clots from forming (2).

Although bleeding caused by garlic is rare, one report described a case where a person had increased bleeding after regularly eating 12 grams of garlic – about 4 cloves – a day before surgery (3).

In another case study, a person had excessive discoloration and bruising after surgery. The possible cause was a dietary supplement the person was taking that contained fish oil and 10 mg of garlic concentrate, both of which affect blood clot formation (4).

Hence, it is important to speak to your doctor before using any garlic supplements. If you are on medication or are going to have surgery, you should also consult a doctor before adding garlic to your diet.

Garlic breath

Garlic contains a variety of sulfur compounds that are often attributed to its many health benefits (1).

However, these compounds can cause bad breath, especially when consumed in large quantities. This is especially true for raw garlic, as cooking it lowers the levels of these beneficial sulfur compounds (5, 6).

Still, there are several home remedies you can try to get rid of the garlic breath.

Digestive problems

Like onions, leeks, and asparagus, garlic is high in fructans, a type of carbohydrate that can cause gas, gas, and stomach pain in some people (7).

In fact, when people who are fructan intolerant ingest a food that is high in fructan, it is not completely absorbed by the small intestine. Instead, it travels to the colon intact and is fermented in your gut, a process that can contribute to digestive problems (7).

Therefore, people following a low-FODMAP diet – an elimination diet designed to identify certain foods that cause digestive problems – are often encouraged to limit their garlic intake (8).

heartburn

If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you may want to reduce your garlic intake.

GERD is a common condition that occurs when stomach acid drains back into your esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn and nausea (9).

Garlic can decrease the tone of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is the ability of the muscles at the bottom of the esophagus to close and prevent acid from entering. This, in turn, can trigger acid reflux (10).

However, certain foods affect people with GERD differently. If you find that consuming lots of garlic doesn’t cause symptoms, it is likely unnecessary to limit your intake (11).

Summary

Eating large amounts of garlic can lead to garlic breath, digestive problems, and heartburn. In rare cases, it can increase your risk of bleeding, especially during an operation or if you are taking blood thinners.

While there are no official recommendations on how much garlic to eat, studies show that consuming 1 to 2 cloves (3 to 6 grams) per day can have health benefits (1).

If you experience side effects after eating more than this amount, reduce your intake.

Cooking garlic before eating can also help prevent side effects like garlic breath, digestive problems, and acid reflux (11).

If you have any pre-existing health conditions or are taking medication, it is best to speak to your doctor before changing your diet or taking herbal supplements.

Summary

While there aren’t any official guidelines for how much garlic is too much, it’s best to stick to a few cloves a day and cut down on your intake if you experience any side effects. Cooking can also help prevent side effects.

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