Is Pickled Garlic Good for You? Health Benefits Explained

You’ve probably come across pickled garlic at your local supermarket or heard about its unique flavor and potential health benefits. But, like many people, you might be wondering whether it’s really good for you. As a result, it’s important to explore the reasons why pickled garlic has gained popularity and whether it can improve your overall health.

Pickling, an age-old preservation technique, has transformed the sharp and spicy nature of raw garlic into a mellow, slightly sweet flavor. This process not only enhances the taste but also retains many of garlic’s health benefits. 

However, you may have concerns about the sodium content and possible side effects that the pickling process may introduce. Keep reading to learn how pickled garlic can affect your well-being and whether incorporating it into your diet is a wise choice.

What is Pickled Garlic?

Is Pickled Garlic Good for You

Pickled garlic is a type of preserved garlic that has been soaked in a solution of vinegar, salt, and sometimes sugar or other spices. This process imparts a tangy, slightly sweet, and often garlicky flavor to the cloves while softening their pungent taste. Pickling garlic helps to extend its shelf life and makes it a versatile condiment and ingredient in various dishes.

Here’s how pickled garlic is typically made:

  • Selecting the garlic: Choose fresh, firm, and unblemished garlic bulbs for pickling. It’s best to use smaller cloves, as they tend to pickle more evenly.
  • Peeling the cloves: Separate the garlic bulbs into individual cloves and peel off the papery skin. This can be a time-consuming process, but it’s essential to ensure the pickling solution reaches all parts of the garlic.
  • Preparation of the pickling solution: The pickling solution typically consists of a mixture of vinegar, water, salt, and sometimes sugar and spices. Common types of vinegar used are white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or rice vinegar. The proportion of water, vinegar, salt, and other ingredients can vary based on the recipe.
  • Blanching the garlic (optional): Some recipes may require blanching the garlic cloves in boiling water for a short time before pickling. This step can help reduce the pungency of the garlic.
  • Pickling process: Place the peeled garlic cloves in sterilized glass jars or containers. Pour the pickling solution over the garlic, ensuring that all the cloves are fully submerged. Seal the jars tightly.
  • Fermentation (optional): In some pickled garlic recipes, fermentation is encouraged by leaving the sealed jars at room temperature for a period. This allows the flavors to develop further. After fermentation, store the pickled garlic in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process.
  • Maturing: Let the pickled garlic mature in the refrigerator for a few days to several weeks before consuming. The longer it sits, the more the flavors will meld together.

Uses of Pickled Garlic:

  • Condiment: Pickled garlic can be used as a tangy and flavorful condiment. Add a few cloves to sandwiches, burgers, or hot dogs for a zesty kick.
  • Salads: Chopped or sliced pickled garlic can be a tasty addition to various salads, adding a burst of flavor.
  • Antipasto platters: Pickled garlic is a common ingredient in antipasto platters, serving as a complement to cheeses, cured meats, olives, and other pickled vegetables.
  • Stir-fries and sautés: Incorporate pickled garlic into stir-fries or sautéed dishes for a unique twist on traditional recipes.
  • Pizza and pasta: Use pickled garlic as a topping for pizzas or mix it into pasta dishes to elevate the flavors.
  • Marinades and dressings: The tangy taste of pickled garlic can be an excellent addition to marinades for meats, fish, or vegetables. You can also use the pickling liquid as a base for dressings.

Remember that pickled garlic has a distinct flavor, so it might not be suitable for every dish. Experiment with it to find the combinations you enjoy most!


Pickled garlic is a delicious and versatile ingredient that can be used in various recipes or eaten on its own. To make pickled garlic, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Fresh garlic cloves: Choose firm, large cloves for the best results.
  • Vinegar: Most commonly, white vinegar or apple cider vinegar is used for pickling garlic. They provide the necessary acidity to preserve the garlic and create a tangy flavor.
  • Water: This helps in diluting the vinegar, creating the perfect brine for pickling the garlic.
  • Sugar: A small amount of sugar is added to balance the tanginess of the vinegar and create a mildly sweet taste.
  • Salt: Salt helps preserve the garlic and adds depth to the overall flavor of the pickled garlic.
  • Spices: You can use various spices, such as black peppercorns, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, and crushed red pepper, to enhance the flavor of pickled garlic. This can be adjusted based on your preference.

Preparing and pickling garlic requires a few simple steps:

  1. Peel the garlic cloves: Remove the outer skin from the garlic cloves, ensuring that they remain whole and intact.
  2. Prepare the brine: Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and chosen spices in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve.
  3. Blanch the garlic cloves: Briefly boil the peeled garlic cloves in water, then drain them. This step helps in making the garlic less harsh in flavor and easier to digest.
  4. Pack the garlic into a jar: Place the drained garlic cloves in a clean jar, ensuring they are well-packed but not squished.
  5. Pour the brine over the garlic: Once the brine has cooled slightly, pour it over the garlic cloves, ensuring they are fully submerged.
  6. Seal and store: Close the jar tightly and store it in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks to allow the pickling process to take place.

When using pickled garlic in recipes, you can enjoy its soft and flavorful taste, which lacks the strong bite of raw garlic. From adding it to salads and dressings to incorporating it into your favorite pasta dishes, pickled garlic provides both taste and nutritional benefits.

Nutrition Information

Pickled garlic retains many of the nutrients found in fresh garlic, although the pickling process may cause a slight reduction in some nutrients. Here are some of the key nutrients typically found in pickled garlic:

  • Allicin: Allicin is one of the most potent bioactive compounds in garlic. It is responsible for the characteristic aroma and many of garlic’s health benefits, including its potential antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
  • Vitamins: Garlic is a good source of several vitamins, including vitamin C, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and small amounts of vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
  • Minerals: Garlic contains essential minerals, such as manganese, selenium, calcium, phosphorus, and small amounts of iron and zinc.
  • Sulfur Compounds: Along with allicin, garlic contains other sulfur-containing compounds like diallyl disulfide and diallyl trisulfide, which contribute to its aroma and potential health benefits.
  • Antioxidants: Garlic contains various antioxidants, including flavonoids and organosulfur compounds, which help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body.

It’s important to note that the exact nutrient content of pickled garlic can vary based on the specific recipe and preparation method used. While pickled garlic can provide some beneficial nutrients, it’s essential to consume a diverse range of foods to obtain a well-rounded and balanced diet.

Health Benefits

Pickled garlic, like its fresh counterpart, may offer several potential health benefits due to the presence of bioactive compounds and nutrients. However, it’s essential to remember that while pickled garlic can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet, it should not be considered a cure-all, and its health benefits may vary from person to person.

Here are some of the potential health benefits associated with pickled garlic:

  • Cardiovascular Health: Garlic, including pickled garlic, is believed to have cardiovascular benefits. The sulfur compounds in garlic may help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and improve overall heart health. These effects may contribute to a reduced risk of heart disease.
  • Antioxidant Properties: Garlic contains antioxidants that help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. Antioxidants may contribute to reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Immune Support: Garlic is known for its immune-boosting properties. The allicin and other compounds in garlic may help enhance the function of the immune system, making the body better equipped to defend against infections and illnesses.
  • Antimicrobial Effects: Garlic has long been valued for its natural antimicrobial properties. The compounds in garlic may help fight against certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi, contributing to a strengthened immune response.
  • Cancer Prevention: Some studies suggest that the compounds found in garlic, including allicin and organosulfur compounds, may have potential anti-cancer properties. They may help inhibit the growth of cancer cells and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as stomach and colorectal cancer.
  • Digestive Health: Garlic, when consumed in moderation, may aid in digestion and promote a healthy gut. The prebiotic properties of garlic may support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Effects: The compounds in garlic may possess anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for individuals with inflammatory conditions.

It’s important to note that while there is scientific evidence supporting many of these potential health benefits, more research is needed to fully understand the specific mechanisms and optimal dosages. Additionally, individual responses to garlic consumption can vary, and excessive consumption of garlic may cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some people.

Pros and Cons

Pickled garlic offers several health benefits, but it’s also important to be aware of potential risks and side effects. First, let’s examine the positive aspects of consuming pickled garlic.


  • As you may know, garlic has numerous health benefits, including the ability to protect your heart, lower blood sugar, fight off colds, and remove toxins. Pickled garlic maintains many of these properties.
  • Consuming pickled garlic can also lower lung cancer risk as it can act as a chemo-preventive agent to help address lung cancer.
  • Another advantage of pickled garlic is its potential effect on the immune system. Studies have shown that garlic can help boost the immune system, which may be beneficial for those suffering from arthritis or other autoimmune conditions.


  • While pickled garlic contains numerous health benefits, some people may experience side effects from consumption. Common side effects include an upset stomach, bad breath, or body odor.
  • One major concern when consuming pickled garlic is the risk of bleeding. Garlic has natural blood-thinning properties and can increase the risk of bleeding when taken with other blood-thinning medications or supplements. If you are on any blood-thinning medications, it’s vital to consult your healthcare provider before incorporating pickled garlic into your diet.
  • Additionally, the use of garlic supplements may not offer the same benefits as consuming pickled or raw garlic. Some studies suggest that cooking or processing garlic can reduce its health benefits, so it is essential to be cautious when considering garlic supplements as an alternative to pickled or raw garlic.

In summary, pickled garlic offers several health benefits, but it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks and side effects associated with its consumption.

Additionally, it’s crucial to remember that taking garlic supplements might not provide the same advantages as consuming pickled or raw garlic. Always consult a healthcare professional if you have any concerns, especially if you are on blood-thinning medications.

Related Studies

One study discusses the beneficial effects of garlic on cardiovascular health. It highlights that garlic has been used in complementary and alternative medicine for centuries and recent research supports its effectiveness in reducing cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and abnormal lipid levels. The article also mentions that garlic stimulates the production of nitric oxide, which helps prevent cardiovascular disorders.

Additionally, garlic has anti-inflammatory properties and can generate hydrogen sulfide, which relaxes blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. Overall, garlic as a dietary component shows promise in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

There is also an umbrella review that examines the evidence for the health benefits of consuming allium vegetables, such as garlic and onions. The review includes 16 meta-analyses with a total of 50 unique outcomes. The findings suggest that allium vegetables may have a protective effect against gastric cancer.

Garlic consumption for as little as 8 weeks can significantly reduce serum total cholesterol levels, with greater benefits observed in individuals with dyslipidemia. Diabetic patients who consume garlic for longer durations experience improvements in fasting blood glucose levels, HbA1c, and serum fructosamine.

Garlic intake is also associated with blood pressure reduction in hypertensive patients. The review also notes that garlic has limited side effects, such as garlic odor and gastrointestinal complaints. Overall, the findings suggest that allium vegetables, particularly garlic, can be beneficial for cancer prevention and as part of the dietary management of dyslipidemia, diabetes, and hypertension.

One study evaluated the effects of a commercial garlic powder on the viability of gut bacteria. In pure culture studies, Lactobacillus casei was found to be resistant to garlic powder, while Bacteroides ovatus, Bifidobacterium longum, and Clostridium nexile showed a significant reduction in cell numbers.

However, bacterial numbers increased over time and the strains that became resistant retained their resistance. In a colonic model, lactic acid bacteria were found to be more resistant to garlic compared to clostridial members. Overall, garlic intake may temporarily modulate the gut microbiota, potentially favoring the growth of beneficial lactobacilli species.

What Do Health Experts Say About Pickled Garlic?

Health experts highlight the numerous health benefits associated with consuming pickled garlic. First and foremost, it has antibacterial and antioxidant properties, which can support your immune system. This makes it an effective addition to your diet for protection against the common cold and flu.

Pickled garlic has also been noted for its potential in treating various forms of cancer. Research shows that the organo-sulfur compounds in garlic, such as DADS, DAS, and DATS, have demonstrated effectiveness in destroying dangerous cells in brain tumors. In particular, DATS has been found to be the most effective of these compounds.

In addition to its cancer-fighting properties, pickled garlic can benefit those with arthritis and heart disease. Its potent anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce inflammation and discomfort associated with arthritis, while its positive effects on heart health include lowering blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels.

While pickled garlic does offer an array of health benefits, it is important to consume it in moderation. As with any food item, excessive consumption can lead to unwanted side effects, such as digestive discomfort or a strong garlic odor on your breath. Remember to balance your diet with various nutritious foods to maximize your overall well-being.

To incorporate pickled garlic into your meals, try adding it to salads, stir-fries, or even as a tangy topping for sandwiches. Its unique flavor can further enhance the taste of your dishes and simultaneously support your health. Remember to always consult with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your diet or if you have any concerns about the consumption of pickled garlic.

Who Should Avoid It?

Allergic Reactions and Sensitivity

Caution for individuals allergic to garlic or sensitive to sulfites, commonly found in pickled garlic, as it may trigger adverse reactions like hives or respiratory issues.

Blood-Thinning Medications

Consult a healthcare provider before consuming pickled garlic if you’re on blood-thinning medications, as it could enhance their effects and increase the risk of bleeding.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

While no documented risks are associated, it’s best to consult a healthcare provider before consuming pickled garlic during pregnancy or breastfeeding to ensure safety.

Moderation and Sodium Content

Consume pickled garlic in moderation due to its high sodium content, which can affect blood pressure and overall health. Maintain a balanced diet with diverse food choices

Natural Alternatives

If you’re looking for natural alternatives to pickled garlic, consider incorporating these options into your diet:

  • Fresh Garlic: Using fresh garlic is a straightforward and natural alternative to pickled garlic. You can mince, crush, or chop fresh garlic to add flavor to your dishes. It offers similar health benefits without the added sodium found in pickled versions.
  • Roasted Garlic: Roasting garlic enhances its sweetness and reduces its pungency. Simply wrap a whole bulb of garlic in foil and roast it in the oven until soft and golden. Roasted garlic can be spread on bread, mixed into dips, or used in various recipes.
  • Garlic Powder: Garlic powder is made from dehydrated garlic and can be used as a seasoning in place of pickled garlic. It’s a convenient option that retains the flavor and health benefits of fresh garlic.
  • Garlic Infused Oil: Garlic-infused oil is made by steeping garlic cloves in oil, which infuses the oil with garlic flavor. Use this oil for sautéing or drizzle it over dishes to add a garlic kick.
  • Garlic Chives: Garlic chives are an herb with a mild garlic flavor. They can be used fresh or dried as a seasoning in soups, salads, and various recipes.
  • Black Garlic: Black garlic is fermented garlic with a sweet and mellow taste. It lacks the pungency of fresh garlic and can be used as a unique alternative in recipes.
  • Garlic Scapes: Garlic scapes are the green, curly shoots that grow from garlic bulbs. They have a milder garlic flavor and can be used in salads, stir-fries, or as a garnish.
  • Shallots: Shallots have a subtle garlic flavor and can be used as a replacement for pickled garlic in recipes that call for a milder taste.

Remember to adjust the quantities of these alternatives according to your taste preferences and the specific recipe you’re preparing.


Pickling garlic is a flavorful way to enjoy this nutritious vegetable. When consuming pickled garlic, you can expect some potential health benefits as well. For instance, both raw and pickled garlic may lower the risk of lung cancer and help in cold prevention.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that moderation is key. Consuming excessive amounts of garlic, whether pickled or otherwise, may lead to unwanted side effects. It’s always a good idea to maintain balance in your diet and incorporate a variety of nutrient-rich foods.

Additionally, if you have any concerns about including pickled garlic in your diet or if you have an existing health condition that might be affected, consult your healthcare professional for personalized advice.

In summary, pickled garlic can be a tasty and beneficial addition to your diet. Just be mindful of portion sizes and enjoy its unique flavor while reaping potential health benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many cloves of pickled garlic can you eat a day?

There isn’t a specific limit on the number of pickled garlic cloves you can consume daily. However, moderation is key when it comes to any food. Consuming a clove or two per day should be sufficient to enjoy the benefits without experiencing any side effects.

What are the side effects of consuming pickled garlic?

While pickled garlic offers numerous health benefits, excessive consumption may lead to some side effects, including digestive issues, bad breath, body odor, and potential interactions with certain medications. It’s essential to consult your doctor if you’re concerned about any side effects, especially if you take medications or have a pre-existing health condition.

Does pickled garlic offer the same health benefits as raw garlic?

Pickled garlic does provide several health benefits, such as boosting immunity and possibly reducing the risk of certain cancers. However, the pickling process may reduce some of the beneficial compounds found in raw garlic. Consequently, pickled garlic is still a healthy choice, but it may not offer the full spectrum of benefits associated with raw garlic.

What are the health benefits of Korean pickled garlic?

Korean pickled garlic, also known as “maneuljangajji,” is high in antioxidants, making it a great immunity booster. Regular consumption may help to improve heart health, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of certain cancers. Keep in mind that moderation is essential, and it’s best to pair Korean pickled garlic with a balanced diet.

What’s the difference between pickled and fermented garlic?

Pickled garlic is preserved using a vinegar-based brine, which gives it a tangy flavor and helps extend its shelf life. On the other hand, fermented garlic is preserved through a controlled fermentation process that involves beneficial bacteria, and it’s usually preserved in a salt-based brine. Fermented garlic may offer additional probiotic benefits, while pickled garlic provides some of the original garlic’s nutrition and flavor.

What are the benefits of fermented garlic and ginger?

Fermented garlic and ginger both offer unique health benefits. Fermented garlic boosts immunity, improves heart health, and may reduce cancer risk. Similarly, fermented ginger possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties, contributes to better digestion, and may help reduce nausea. Combined, fermented garlic and ginger make a powerful duo for supporting overall health and wellness.


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