What is the safest way to eat raw garlic?

Eating raw garlic can provide many health benefits, but it’s important to consume it safely. Raw garlic contains a compound called allicin, which is released when garlic cloves are chopped or crushed. Allicin is responsible for much of garlic’s therapeutic effects, including its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties (1).

However, eating too much raw garlic on an empty stomach can cause gastrointestinal issues like heartburn, gas, and nausea in some people. There are some simple steps you can take to get the benefits of raw garlic while minimizing side effects (2).

Start with small amounts

When adding raw garlic to your diet, start with small doses like 1 clove per day and slowly work your way up to avoid digestive upset. Crush the clove and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before consuming to allow the allicin to fully develop (3). You can mince the garlic and add it to dressings, dips, sauces, or spreads.

Have it with food

Eating garlic with other foods can help minimize potential stomach irritation and acid reflux symptoms. Try adding minced raw garlic to savory foods like hummus, guacamole, pizza, pasta, or mixed into salads. The food will help absorb some of the harshness of the garlic (4).

Use garlic powder

If raw garlic causes digestive issues for you, try using garlic powder instead. Garlic powder provides the flavor and some benefits of raw garlic without the harshness and high allicin content. Use garlic powder to season meats, vegetables, eggs, soups, and sauces (5).

Bake garlic whole

Baking whole garlic bulbs mellows their flavor and makes the cloves easier to digest. Bake bulbs with olive oil, herbs, and spices at 325°F for 45-60 minutes until soft. Then squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and mash them into a paste to spread on bread, mix into mashed potatoes or pasta sauce, or add to dip (6).

Pickle garlic

Pickling garlic in vinegar brine for 2-3 weeks can mellow its flavor and reduce the likelihood of digestive issues. Use pickled garlic cloves in place of raw garlic in recipes, or add them to salads, pizza, pasta, and antipasto spreads (7).

Use garlic infused oil

Steeping crushed garlic cloves in olive oil on the lowest stovetop setting for 15-20 minutes infuses the oil with garlic flavor. Strain out the garlic cloves and just use the flavored oil to dress salads, drizzle over pasta, marinade meats, or dip bread (8).

Take garlic supplements

If you want garlic’s benefits without eating it raw, consider a daily garlic supplement. Look for allicin-containing products made from aged garlic extract. Supplements may be easier to tolerate than raw garlic for those sensitive to it (9).

Avoid garlic on an empty stomach

Eating raw garlic on an empty stomach is more likely to cause digestive symptoms, as there’s no food to buffer it. Try to always have raw garlic with meals, or at least a small snack like nuts or crackers if you’re taking it as a supplement (10).

Drink plenty of fluids

Having raw garlic with a full glass of water or other liquid can help dilute its potency and ease its passage through the digestive tract. Drinking water, herbal tea, vegetable juice, or milk is preferable to soda, alcohol, or coffee, which can further irritate the stomach (11).

Start with cooked garlic

If raw garlic is too harsh for your stomach, start with cooked garlic like roasted garlic, sautéed garlic, or garlic boiled in soups or stews. Cooked garlic is digested much more easily. As your tolerance builds, start adding a little raw garlic to meals (12).

Opt for aged garlic extract

Aged garlic extract is made from garlic that has been stored in ethanol for 20 months or more. This aging process removes the harsh irritants and makes it gentler on the stomach. However, it also reduces the allicin content significantly (13).

Be cautious if you have ulcers or reflux

Anyone with a stomach or duodenal ulcer, ulcerative colitis, or acid reflux should be very cautious about consuming raw garlic, as it can irritate the mucosal lining. Speak to your doctor first or consider cooked preparations (14).

Stop eating it if it bothers your stomach

Discontinue eating raw garlic if you experience bothersome digestive symptoms or discomfort in your stomach or abdomen after eating it. Symptoms like pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are signs it’s irritating your GI tract (15).


Enjoying raw garlic safely comes down to using careful prep methods, moderate amounts, and pairing it with foods to prevent stomach irritation. Start with small doses like 1 clove per day with meals and increase slowly as tolerated. Options like baked, pickled, or oil-infused garlic provide flavor while being gentle on digestion. Avoid raw garlic on an empty stomach, drink plenty of fluids, and discontinue use if any discomfort arises.

With some care and cautions, raw garlic can be a tasty addition to a healthy diet and provide immune-supporting allicin and other beneficial plant compounds. But be sure to introduce it gradually and wisely to feel your best.

Safest Ways to Eat Raw Garlic Potential Benefits Drawbacks
Start with small amounts (1 clove per day) Provides allicin and sulfur compounds May cause digestive upset
Have garlic with food Antioxidant and antimicrobial properties Garlic breath, unpleasant body odor
Use garlic powder Immune-boosting effects Reduced allicin content vs fresh garlic
Bake whole bulbs Anti-inflammatory effects Time consuming to prepare
Pickle garlic Cardiovascular benefits Alters fresh garlic flavor
Infuse oil with garlic Potential anti-cancer activity Minimizes raw garlic consumption
Take garlic supplements Ease of use Risk of impurities in supplements

In this table, some of the safest ways to consume raw garlic are outlined along with the potential benefits and drawbacks of each method. While raw garlic has many advantages, various preparation methods can make it easier to tolerate and can mitigate side effects like digestive upset.

Health Benefits of Raw Garlic

For centuries, garlic has been used in traditional medicine systems to treat a wide range of ailments. Modern research has confirmed many of garlic’s traditional uses and revealed additional therapeutic roles. Some of the scientifically studied benefits of raw garlic include:

Antimicrobial Effects

Raw garlic exhibits antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties which can help prevent and fight infections. Lab studies indicate garlic may be effective against common foodborne pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella, and staphylococci bacteria. Applying raw garlic directly to warts, skin infections, or fungal infections can help clear them up (16, 17).

Immune-Boosting Properties

Garlic can give your immune system a boost, thanks to its sulfur-containing compounds like allicin. Regularly eating raw garlic may help reduce the frequency or severity of colds, flu, and respiratory infections. It also activates certain immune cells including T-cells, macrophages, and natural killer cells (18).

Cardiovascular Benefits

Compounds in raw garlic like allicin and S-allylcysteine promote healthy blood flow and circulation. Garlic acts as a natural blood thinner, reducing platelet aggregation. Consuming raw garlic regularly may help lower high blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing heart disease risk (19).

Anti-Cancer Activity

The phytochemicals in raw garlic exhibit anti-cancer properties in lab and animal studies. They may be able to inhibit tumor growth by inducing apoptosis, regulating cell cycles, and detoxifying carcinogens. More human studies are needed, but garlic shows promising cancer-fighting abilities (20).

Antioxidant Effects

Raw garlic contains potent antioxidants including quercetin, alliin, allicin, and allyl disulfide. These work to scavenge harmful free radicals throughout the body, reducing oxidative stress and cell damage. This helps support healthy aging and may lower risk of chronic diseases (21).

However, keep in mind that cooking garlic reduces its antioxidant content and allicin levels significantly. For the maximum antioxidant benefits, consume raw garlic (22).

Side Effects and Safety Precautions

Along with its multitude of benefits, raw garlic consumption may also come with some adverse effects:

  • Digestive upset like bloating, gas, heartburn, and nausea
  • Unpleasant garlic breath and body odor
  • Potential burning sensation in mouth and stomach
  • Allergic reactions like skin rash or asthma (rare)
  • Bleeding risk due to antiplatelet effects, an issue for those on blood thinners
  • Herb-drug interactions with certain medications
  • Topical burns with direct application to skin

To reduce the likelihood of problems, start with small amounts of raw garlic like 1 fresh clove per day with food. Slowly increase the dose based on your individual tolerance. Avoid putting raw garlic directly on your skin. Check with your doctor before use if you take any medications or have any health conditions (23).


Is it safe to eat raw garlic every day?

For most people, eating 1-2 cloves of raw garlic per day is considered safe when introduced gradually. However, some people may experience digestive issues or allergic reactions. Monitor yourself for any stomach discomfort, diarrhea, or other unpleasant effects.

Does raw garlic burn belly fat?

There is no evidence that raw garlic has any special fat burning properties. However, garlic as part of a healthy diet and active lifestyle may support weight management. But no specific food can “target” fat loss from a particular body area like the belly.

What happens if you eat too much raw garlic?

Consuming excessive amounts of raw garlic could cause more severe digestive problems, bad breath and body odor, migraines, skin irritation, sensitivity to sunlight, and other side effects. Stick within recommended doses of 1-2 cloves per day.

How long does raw garlic last?

Fresh raw garlic heads stored in a cool, dry, and dark place can last for up to 3-6 months. Once the head is broken up, the separated cloves will last about 10-14 days if stored properly in a container. Over time, the garlic may start to sprout and lose potency.

Can you eat raw garlic on keto?

Yes, raw garlic is keto diet approved and encouraged. It contains minimal carbs and calories, along with antioxidants and compounds that support ketosis like allicin. Add raw garlic to keto staples like eggs, meat, vegetable dishes, sauces, and salad dressings.

The Bottom Line

Raw garlic delivers a stronger dose of health-promoting compounds compared to cooked garlic. But it needs to be consumed wisely to avoid digestive and odor issues. Start with small amounts like 1 clove per day eaten with meals. Consider aged, baked, pickled or infused preparations for better tolerance.

When enjoying garlic raw, drink plenty of fluids, avoid empty stomach consumption, and discontinue use if any severe side effects develop. This pungent vegetable lives up to its medicinal hype, as long as you handle it carefully and listen to your body’s response.

Leave a Comment