Intake of garlic and its bioactive components

J Nutr. 2001 Mar;131(3s):955S-62S. doi: 10.1093/jn/131.3.955S.


The health benefits of garlic likely arise from a wide variety of components, possibly working synergistically. The complex chemistry of garlic makes it plausible that variations in processing can yield quite different preparations. Highly unstable thiosulfinates, such as allicin, disappear during processing and are quickly transformed into a variety of organosulfur components. The efficacy and safety of these preparations in preparing dietary supplements based on garlic are also contingent on the processing methods employed. Although there are many garlic supplements commercially available, they fall into one of four categories, i.e., dehydrated garlic powder, garlic oil, garlic oil macerate and aged garlic extract (AGE). Garlic and garlic supplements are consumed in many cultures for their hypolipidemic, antiplatelet and procirculatory effects. In addition to these proclaimed beneficial effects, some garlic preparations also appear to possess hepatoprotective, immune-enhancing, anticancer and chemopreventive activities. Some preparations appear to be antioxidative, whereas others may stimulate oxidation. These additional biological effects attributed to AGE may be due to compounds, such as S-allylcysteine, S-allylmercaptocysteine, N(alpha)-fructosyl arginine and others, formed during the extraction process. Although not all of the active ingredients are known, ample research suggests that several bioavailable components likely contribute to the observed beneficial effects of garlic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allyl Compounds / pharmacokinetics
  • Allyl Compounds / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Disulfides
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Garlic / chemistry*
  • Garlic / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacokinetics
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Rats
  • Safety
  • Sulfides / pharmacokinetics
  • Sulfides / pharmacology
  • Sulfinic Acids / pharmacokinetics
  • Sulfinic Acids / pharmacology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Allyl Compounds
  • Disulfides
  • Plant Extracts
  • Sulfides
  • Sulfinic Acids
  • allicin
  • allyl sulfide