Is Garlic Good For Kidneys? The Surprising Health Benefits

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From common household spice to ancient medicine, garlic has been used by humans in many forms for centuries.  We know that many herbs and spices have beneficial effects on our health, but is garlic part of that list? Is garlic just a flavorful addition to meals and nothing more? Or, is garlic delicious and good for our health? Furthermore, is garlic good for kidneys? Let’s dive into the pros, cons, and ways that you can add more garlic to your diet. 

The surprising health benefits of garlic

The History of Garlic 

Garlic has been used in cooking and medicine for centuries. However, even with its current widespread use, garlic only grows wildly in Central Asia

It is estimated that Egyptian and Indian cultures used garlic for cooking and medicine up to 5000 years ago and was used by the Chinese around 2000 years ago. 

Nowadays, there are many types of Garlic available for purchase across the globe:  

  • Black Garlic 
  • Aged Garlic extract (AGE) 
  • Fresh Garlic 
  • Garlic Oil 
  • Garlic Powder 
  • Garlic Supplements 

Garlic Nutrition Breakdown

Believe it or not, processing garlic does slightly change its nutritional composition. 

CaloriesProteinPotassiumPhosphorusIron Magnesium
Raw Garlic (1 clove, ~3g)4 kcals<1g12 mg5 mg<1 mg1 mg
Cooked Garlic (1 clove, ~3g)4 kcals<1g12 mg5 mg<1 mg1 mg
Garlic Powder (1 tsp, ~3.1g)10 kcals1g37 mg13 mg<1 mg2 mg

The Health Benefits of Garlic 

Now more than ever, the inclusion of herbs and spices to promote health and wellness is being incorporated into treatment options for patients with chronic diseases. This is great news!

Oftentimes cooking with herbs and spices is relatively inexpensive, is low risk when used in appropriate amounts, and adds more flavor to our food. 

Cinnamon, parsley, oregano, and sage are all commonly used spices that also have beneficial health effects. Add to that list: Garlic. 

Garlic contains high amounts of organic sulfur compounds as well as other substances that have beneficial effects.

These include flavonoids, phenolic compounds, allicin, and more. 

Antioxidant Content

Antioxidants are substances that help our bodies keep cells healthy.

More and more research is showing that a diet that is high in antioxidants may have a beneficial effect in fighting against chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, just to name a few.

 Garlic, particularly the organic compounds in garlic, has high levels of antioxidants

More specifically, studies have found that the way that garlic is processed affects the level of antioxidant activity. Raw garlic had more antioxidant activity than cooked garlic.

Black garlic (fermented garlic) had a stronger antioxidant effect than raw garlic. 

Studies have also emerged suggesting that garlic has potential anti-inflammatory effects on the body.

Anti inflammatoary spices for kidneys

Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Effects 

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major global health problem and one of the leading causes of death in those with chronic kidney disease.

Controlling certain risk factors for CVD, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, are ways that we can reduce risk. 

There has been research conducted in humans that measures the effects of garlic on blood pressure.

One study found that in patients that already had high blood pressure, including garlic may be associated with a reduction in blood pressure. However, they did not see a reduction in blood pressure for those that had normal blood pressure levels.  

In one meta-analysis that included human trials, garlic powder supplements reduced blood triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, blood pressure and fasting blood glucose compared to the control group. 

One study in rats found that including Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) increased the production of Nitric Oxide. This, in turn, improved vasodilation (the expansion of blood vessels) and decreased blood pressure.  

Other promising research has suggested that garlic may have a beneficial effect on blood lipids and protection of the heart tissue. However, we need more research to support these claims. 

Bottom line, lots of promising research for the positive effects of garlic on heart health has come out in recent years.

Garlic powder, garlic extracts and regular garlic all have different and varying degrees of benefits. 

Add Flavor Without Adding Salt 

One of the most common “first lines of defense” for kidney disease is limiting salt intake.

Too much salt may cause blood pressure to go up. High blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney disease- so limiting salt to a safe amount is very important!

Learn more about salt and kidney disease here. 

One way to limit your salt intake is to swap out salt with other herbs and spices when you cook (hello, garlic!).

The simple act of adding garlic and other spices in place of salt can reduce sodium intake and increase the nutritional value of your meal. 

Kidney Friendly flavor favorites

The Cons of Garlic 

What about the drawbacks of adding garlic to the diet?

Although garlic is a relatively low-risk addition to a kidney-friendly diet, there are some things to consider before adding garlic. 

Garlic and IBS 

Some people with kidney disease also struggle with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and other gastrointestinal issues.

Symptoms of IBS can include:

  • acute and/or chronic abdominal pain
  • constipation
  • diarrhea

Identifying trigger foods is a common treatment for IBS and other gastrointestinal issues. 

In one study with those with IBS experiencing bowel gas symptoms, garlic was at the top of the list for foods to avoid. 

Our suggestion: work with your dietitian to pinpoint if garlic is the cause of your IBS symptoms. Keep a food log of everything that you eat as well as the symptoms afterward.

Sometimes, the cooked version of garlic can be easier on the digestive system than raw garlic.

However, in some cases avoiding trigger foods completely may be the solution. 


Garlic does contain potassium. Some people with chronic kidney disease may need to limit the amount of potassium that they eat. You can learn more about potassium and kidney disease here. 

When it comes to garlic and potassium, portion size matters! 1 clove (~3g) of raw garlic contains only 12 mg of potassium. This can fit well into a low-potassium diet. 

However, 100g of raw garlic contains 401 mg of potassium, making it a high-potassium item. 

Similarly, cooked garlic has a very close nutritional value.

1 clove (~3g) of cooked garlic contains 12 mg of potassium. 100g of cooked garlic contains 399 mg of potassium. 

Are Garlic Supplements Ok for Kidneys? 

What about garlic supplements? Are garlic supplements ok for kidneys? 

Research has been conducted on the effects of garlic supplementation on blood pressure.

However, there is very little research on rats or humans on the safety of garlic supplements for those with chronic kidney disease specifically. 

In one study, humans were given powdered garlic supplements. Over an 8-week time period, the participants that did include the powdered garlic capsules did see a reduction in blood pressure.

However, the placebo group (the group that did not take the garlic supplement) also saw the same reduction in blood pressure. 

If you do have kidney disease, talk to your doctor or dietitian about whether or not a garlic supplement is ok for you.

Chances are, adding garlic to your food in the raw, cooked, or powdered form will do the trick. 

Garlic and Kidney Disease

What about garlic and kidney disease specifically? Is garlic good for kidneys?

Right now, the best research that we have is from rat studies. 

Little research has been done on garlic and kidney disease.

However, much of the research that has been conducted looks at the positive effect of garlic on blood pressure, which is one of the leading causes of kidney disease.  

Many people with kidney disease also develop blood pressure issues and heart disease, making garlic’s effect on blood pressure more relevant than ever. 

One study found that in rats with chronic kidney disease, supplementing with allicin (which is a bioactive substance found in garlic) had a beneficial effect on kidney function

In this study, rats with chronic kidney disease were divided into three treatment groups.

The first group was treated with allicin (garlic), the second with losartan (a common prescription drug) and one group was given no treatment.

These treatment groups were compared to a control group of rats that did not have kidney disease.  

In the rats that were given allicin and losartan, there was an improvement in blood pressure, oxidative stress and renal function when compared to the rats with kidney disease that did not receive treatment.

This improvement in blood pressure and kidney function shows promising effects for humans with kidney disease.

However, much more research needs to be conducted in rats and human trials need to be conducted before any conclusions can be made. 

The pros and cons of garlic in the kidney diet

3 Ways to Add More Garlic to Your Diet 

Ready to add some garlic to your diet? Try these nutrition hacks out. 

P.S. Concern about garlic breath could be in the back of your mind. It may be beneficial to carry some low-sugar mints with you!  

  1. Make your own kidney-protective garlic salad dressing! 

Smash 1-2 roasted garlic cloves and add olive oil, thyme, oregano, and some lemon juice. 

Whisk together and enjoy on top of your favorite salad! 

  1. Add garlic to a stir fry

Mince 1-2 cloves of garlic and add 2-3 of your favorite veggies (onions, carrots, peppers, corn, and broccoli all do very well!) to a pan with some sesame oil.

Add cubed tofu or edamame to your stir fry and top with coconut aminos and sesame seeds. 

  1. Make your own salt-free spice blend

Combine equal parts nutritional yeast, onion powder, dried basil, dried thyme, garlic powder, and ground turmeric.

Blend and add to your favorite kidney-friendly dish! 


So, is garlic good for kidneys? Short answer: yes. As we learn more and more about how including specific foods can be beneficial to our health, we need to keep garlic at the top of our list. 

Garlic has mainly been studied for its positive effect on blood pressure. However, there is promising research showing its antioxidant activity and positive effect on the kidneys. 

Start spicing up your meals (pun intended!) with raw garlic, cooked garlic and garlic powder to add flavor (without having to add salt) and more nutritional value to your food. 

Have a kidney-friendly garlic dish that you would like to share? Comment below! We would love to try it. 

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